What's better: seasonal events, or dynamic snow?
Last time, you decided by a narrow margin that becoming overpowered is better than a chunky manual. With no chunky manual to teach you a game's systems, I guess you'll be busy experimenting with that for a while. This week, I've had a queer fancy to (for once) make you pick between things which have absolutely no connection. What's better: seasonal events, or dynamic snow? I know, it's a bit of a silly choice, but hey, it's the last week of work before Christmas, let's goof off.
At certain times of the year—Lunar New Year, the spring equinox, Halloween, Christmas, and so on—live service games kick back and chill out with special events themed for the season. Even serious games become keen to hand out silly hats, give levels a seasonal twist, and maybe introduce some party games.
GTA Online has some of my favourite seasonal events. On the 4th of July, it rolls out firework launchers and patriotic monster trucks (I've had mixed success in starting Independence Day parties on servers). Come Halloween, you'll be stalked through the streets by murderous NPCs including flaming Christine cars and slashers, and can even be abducted by aliens. At Christmas, the California sun vanishes behind snowclouds as Los Santos gets a skiddy dusting and snowball fights break out. I don't play GTAO much anymore but I'll always return for a day or two of seasonal celebrations.
Which are your favourites, reader dear?
One drawback to seasonal events is that can be grindathons, especially at Christmas. Games sometimes get a little too hungry to fill your free time, too keen to monopolise your attention. Holding the shiniest presents behind long grinds feels miserly during the season for giving, and anti-social at a time that's supposedly for family (but actually about meeting your true love at a Christmas tree farm, obs). Heaven forbid a game simply give you nice presents, EH DESTINY 2? But we shouldn't get carried away judging a thing by its worst implementation.
When I first ventured onto Europa in Destiny 2's Beyond Light expansion, I missed a lot of the early story because I was so distracted by the snow. Parts of the frozen moon have deep snowdrifts which not only make that good snow footstep noise (the best noise in video games? we might need to return to this) and leave good snowy bootprints, they deform and get flattened as you slide through them and stomp down. Wonderful. It's still delightful to me. And during the Christmas event, when snow reaches the social hub, I always enjoyed filling time while waiting for my fireteam by trying to skid the snow away from the steps near the postmaster. Because a true hero uses their bum as a magic snow shovel to save people from slipping.
Red Dead Redemption 2 has even fancier dynamic snow, even leaving ridges between your legs as you kick through it. Snowboarding games and other wintersport bonanzas are obviously on top of dynamic snow. Many driving games too, such as Forza Horizon 5. And SnowRunner! Glorious SnowRunner. Ah, please tell me about more good snow.
Dynamic snow is one of those video game technology tricks which I hope never ceases to delight me. I know it's a trick. I can see the rough edges, and the niche situations where the technology cannot maintain the facade and falls apart. But I am delighted by the game doing its best to fill me with wonder by tricking me. The game is a magician and I am the audience member keen to believe it's actually a wizard.
But which is better?
Pick your winner, vote in the poll below, and make your case in the comments to convince others. We'll reconvene after our Christmas hols to see which thing stands triumphant—and continue the great contest.