Last year I wrote two articles about games that used Christmas as a way of working the festive period into their games (here and here). Sometimes they used Christmas as a setting for a level or a free demo expansion, and others they put in cameo’s by Santa, elves or other Christmassy people.
While I was writing these articles I noticed that the games that made the effort were either MMORPGs (yawn) or games from a bygone era. I thought that the game industry had fallen out of love with the holiday season – and it left me a bit sad. I used to love buying my favourite magazine and getting a Christmas level for my favourite games…
…this year however, developers have completely surprised me!
Loads of games have been given FREE Christmas updates. Surprisingly there are many big name games taking part in the festivities so to help you guys weed out the crap, I’m here to list the ones that sound the most interesting to help you keep the holiday feeling going in your house!
Primal Carnage Extinction – The Dinosaur vs Human shooter has welcomed Christmas into its cold, prehistoric heart. This update brings
with it a massive amount of gameplay fixes, achievements and festive cosmetic changes.
Want to dress up as Santa while hunting a Velociraptor with a candy cane inspired weapon? Well you can now do that with Primal Carnage Extinction.
If you don’t own the game yet (why not its cheap and a lot of fun) then you can buy it over the festive period for a discounted price of £4.49
The Escapists: Santa’s Sweatshop – The great prison breakout simulator gets a free, pretty large Christmas update in which you play an elf who has been a slave to Santa for 20 years. You decide to break out of the North Pole and get home to your family.
In this update you get a ( substantial) Christmas themed level, dialogue and jobs as well as a new soundtrack; that is actually really good despite being sugary sweet!
This one is the most classic of the updates in this post, it’s a very good fit for the Escapists and seems the least tacked on. Definitely the closest we’ve come to a new Christmas NiGHTS or Toy Commander Christmas Surprise! It’s well worth the free download!
Pay Day 2 : Santa’s Workshop – What’s more Christmas than dressing like elves and stealing coke for Vlad?! NOTHING! In what appears to be an annual event (this is the third annual Christmas heist apparently) Overkill have brought the goods this year!
They have reskinned the map from Framing Frame Day 2 and it looks awesome as a Grotto being used to smuggle coke from! The music is also exquisite (as it is throughout the whole game) in fact – the composer describes it better than I ever could;
“Reference to ‘Die Hard’ by way of Beethoven? Check! Stealth track with true Christmas spirit? Check! Big Room House interpretation of ‘Jingle Bells’ in F minor? Check.”
How can you not love the sound of that?
Overkill haven’t stopped there though, they have added stat boosts on top of new weapon skins, achievements and masks to mark the occasions. I can’t help but think the “Rudelf” mask will retain popularity well beyond December!
This is an extremely accomplished free add-on that celebrates Christmas in a way that is fitting for the game.
GTA Online: Festive Surprise – Rockstar could teach other developers a thing or six on how to deliver DLC that is worth your time downloading (as all the updates for GTA:O are free) and by all accounts they have done it again.
In the latest update they have given the players the usual clothing, skin. weapon and vehicle additions as well as a new weather effect (snow obviously) and also create drop items. All of these items are exclusive to this event, so if you get something it will be pretty rare!
They have also made available everything from last years Christmas event and will give away unspecified Christmas gifts to players who log in over the next fortnight – only Christmas Eve and New Years Eve have been confirmed as firework launcher and ammo.
Basically they’ve added a tonne of stuff to their game for no extra cost – a real example for others to follow!
Angry Birds – For you mobile gamers out there Angry Birds have you covered! Rovio have applied Christmas Updates to all variations of their biggest franchise and some of the changes are pretty huge, especially in Angry Birds 2.
Firstly they have added a Christmas finish to every level, items are frost and snow topped, foundations are made from candy canes etc, the piggies wear santa hats. They have also added 20 new levels in an area called Mount Evernest (see what they have done here?). So far so Christmas. However the biggest change is that there is now a PvP mode which is addictive as sin! Being a mobile game though means you must be prepared for micro-transactions (in their defense there is no need to spend money here).
Their Angry Birds seasons update is an advent calendar that has been adding features and characters to the game all month (and it ends today). I just think that Rovio should be applauded for their effort this month, they have a lot of bases to cover with their leading franchise and they’ve served their communities exceptionally well.
Have you played any of the above, do you agree with my summations?
Have I missed your favourite Christmas update?
Tell me in the comments!