It’s been a glorious, if very long and busy, year for Guild Wars 2, so I’m sure ArenaNet is eager to see Wintersday approaching at long last. With Wintersday comes the giving of gifts, however, which can make even the coolest Snowman melt under the pressure to impress. Luckily, there’re plenty of GW2 options available this holiday season, whatever your budget and interests.
Don’t be the Grentch who ruins the festive fun for fans this Wintersday: Sit up, pay attention to this handy-dandy gift guide, and I’ll help you find a gift that’ll make the GW2 fan in your life coo with joy this holiday season. Whether or not you’re familiar with the MMO yourself, you’re sure to find something in my list to cater to both new fans of the franchise and veteran players alike. Perhaps you’re the die-hard GW2 fan yourself and you want to use the holidays as a good excuse to get some friends or family to join you in Tyria: I have you covered too!
Let’s start with the basics: If your giftee doesn’t already own both the base game and the new expansion Heart of Thorns, this is a definite must-buy on your list. Those who are feeling the pinch this holiday season will be very pleased to hear that the core game recently went free-to-play, so you can get your friends involved in the GW2 fun for free and still have come up with a fantastic quality gift. Speaking from experience, I think there’s plenty of relevant content to explore in the core game and this is a fabulous time to jump in because of the heightened post-expansion activity in the starting zones.
Heart of Thorns purchases include the core game, so popping down the funds for the expansion offers good bang for your buck. If you’ve been putting off buying the expansion so far, I highly recommend placing it at the tippy top of your holiday wishlist: It offers a solid story extension, fantastic new challenging endgame content in the form of raids, and a crazy-fun jungle to explore with gliders, updrafts, and mushrooms, among many other things. The price is now fairly reasonable for a new expansion, so you don’t need to feel too bad about including it in your letter to Santa.
Does your giftee already have the expansion? Not to worry: Gems are always a welcome gift for seasoned GW2 players. Gems can be purchased easily in-game with a credit card, but if you’re stuck on the payment option front or want something physical to wrap prettily with gorgeous paper and fabulous bows to give your giftee something with a bit more wow factor, pick up a pre-loaded gem card instead. Pay attention to the costs and weigh them against the current in-game gem exchange rate to ensure you’re not paying over the odds, though! The value of gems can change pretty rapidly, and I’d hate for you to be caught on the wrong side of that shift.
Redeeming your gem card is easy peasy: Simply input your unique code in-game using the “Redeem Code” option in the gem store. The gems should be added pretty much immediately with no fuss at all, ready for an epic shopping spree after you’ve eaten your own weight in holiday food. The range of in-game goodies that can be purchased with gems is dizzying, but I personally recommend picking up the complete Season 2 pack for additional story fun if you missed out when it launched, and I also love the new raiding toolkit. In terms of vanity items, who wouldn’t love a jaunty festive scarf that’s bigger than most character’s heads, a gorgeously detailed, romantic fancy winter outfit, or a set of white or black feathered wings that are so amazingly long they swoosh and drag behind your character? Pure swoon factor!
If virtual goodies don’t ring your jingle bell, there are a few stunning peripherals that would make a fabulous — and surprisingly affordable — holiday gift for the GW2 fan in your life. When my trusty Roccat Kone XTD fell from my table and met its tragic end, I needed a full-featured yet inexpensive replacement fairly quickly. I picked up the SteelSeries Guild Wars 2 Sensei RAW gaming mouse, which is a perfect little ambidextrous, variable grip pointer that meets the needs of all but the most demanding MMO enthusiasts. It’s a seven programmable button beauty that has a gorgeous GW2 motif, gaming grade switches, XL glider pads for smooth movement, SteelSeries Engine technology, and gorgeous red lighting. It’s hard to follow the Kone XTD, my favourite mouse ever after my old Razer Boomslang, but this little mouse keeps up with my gaming demands beautifully. This is a hard one to find in the US now, unfortunately, but it’s worth digging for.
I also highly recommend the matching SteelSeries Flux headset and QcK mousepad, but that might be because I’m a chronic completionist! The headset folds up and features a built-in mic, swappable cable, and magnetic quick-switch ear covers, so even if you move on from GW2 you won’t be stuck with a dated themed headset. The lightweight set is fab for chucking in my bag for the train ride to uni and is surprisingly solid in terms of sound quality for such a modestly priced headset that rings in under $20. I love my mousepad too: It’s a really nice size on my desk and the surface shows no sign of wear and tear despite the high traffic I force it to cope with.
If you’re buying gifts for a book or lore lover, you should check out the wonderful novels that are based on the game’s lore. These books are available both as paperbacks and on Kindle for more modern readers. Ghosts of Ascalon focuses on a haunted band of adventurers who are seeking the Claw, a powerful artefact held by the undead Ascalonian King. It’s a neat, linear story that has the right balance of familiar, game-based lore and fresh additions that add another layer of drama painted over with the expected coat of ArenaNet-style humour. Edge of Destiny is based on (shock horror) the formation of Destiny’s Edge, which gives it a sense of grandeur and epic that greatly appeals to the more general fantasy fan. Lastly, Sea of Sorrows homes in on Zhaitan, Orr, and the rebuilding of Lion’s Arch. I haven’t read this one myself, but who doesn’t love a tale of sea-faring pirates taking on a grand adventure? I love books as gifts because they can be enjoyed over and over again, and these make fantastic stocking fillers due to the low prices.
ArenaNet’s relationship with the up and coming game swag retailer iam8bit is blossoming this festive season, and I totally admit to letting out a very loud coo when I saw the adorable Wintersday quaggan gear. There’s a fabulously cheesy “ugly” festive sweater available in two typically seasonal colour choices, but my favourite seasonal piece is the Santa quaggan plushie… too much cute for me to handle, I tell ya! If you don’t want to choose a gift that has a seasonal shelf life, check out the standard Guild Wars 2 range for some great gift ideas that don’t scream holidays-only. I ordered the bog standard quaggan plushie and the Necromancer tee when the iam8bit GW2 line was announced, but there’re also some beautiful art prints and a whole range of other tee designs to suit your particular giftee. One word of advice: If you’re not based in the US, don’t forget to switch out to the UK version of the site and check if shipping becomes cheaper and faster! Enjoy shopping, and happy holidays!