It’s that time of year again, and depending on your hemisphere either the snow is falling or the sun is shining, but all the stores are blasting Christmas music. Coincidentally all the games are also doing their holiday events.
Overwatch is no different with Winter Wonderland making a comeback from last year and packing new legendary skins, emotes and a new game mode this time around. Winter Wonderland 2017 is a special event in the history of Overwatch, because this might be the first time one of the emotes outpaces the skins in popularity.
But first, skins.
Seven of the heroes in the game’s roster got new holiday-themed skins and Blizzard really hit the ball out of the park with these. The lucky heroes are Hanzo, Bastion, Ana, Sombra, Roadhog, Junkrat and Soldier: 76. All the legendary skins from last year’s event are also back in the store, and at a discount too. Legendary skins from 2016 are 1,000 credits, while Epic, Rare, and Common prices have been lowered to 250, 75, and 25 credits, respectively.
As teased, Hanzo did indeed get his casual hipster look from the Reflections comic. In spite of being a highly requested skin, and the only one on this list that people have been specifically wanting, it is also the least interesting skin this event has brought to the game. Hanzo puts on a hoodie and switches his quiver for a backpack. His bow also gets a more muted color scheme.
Sombra’s skin makes her look a tad World of Warcraft-y, however as far as we know it isn’t based on any character from the Warcraft-verse. She gets a dark blue spiky, angled, armored outfit with glowy bits, fluorescent blue skin and a new haircut in white. The new skin makes her look like some kind of malevolent frost spirit, and that kinda fits her hacker theme, as now she’s likely to freeze your systems in a more literal way.
Solder: 76 has never been representative of the creativity that goes into Overwatch design, being your standard FPS protagonist gameplay-wise and your standard gruff white soldier guy design wise – I mean, he didn’t even get a name, just a number. This trend is continued in his skin, which is a pretty standard looking arctic trooper getup with plenty of sci-fi greeble tossed in.
Roadhog switches his boar aesthetic for one more based on a walrus. His hook is now three-pronged to better resemble a fishing hook, his face mask is styled after the aforementioned arctic animal sans tusks and he’s all dressed up for the cold weather with some fish-bones for décor on his shoulder. In case that isn’t enough to convey that he’s a fisherman, he has all kinds of fish-related memorabilia across his body.
Junkrat’s holiday skin has the crazy pyromaniac going to the beach. Ha ha, hemispheres are funny – actually, a troubling amount of people didn’t get his skin is what it is because he’s Australian. He didn’t exactly need to get less dressed for beachwear compared to his default skin, but he traded soot for a tan, his spiky wheel for a rubber duck floater and his grenade launcher for a super soaker crossed with a ball launcher.
Moving on to the two best skins of the event, first up we have Ana, whose skin is themed around snowy owls. Now, I love birds, owls especially, so I’m kinda biased here. Her feathered hood is accompanied by a techy-looking mask that evokes an owl, tufts and all, and her cloak resembles wings. Owl iconography covers the rest of her skin, and even her sniper rifle. The old lady is absolutely rocking the look.
And then there’s Bastion, who instead of resembling a snowy owl has a snowy owl. Overall his skin isn’t particularly atypical – he’s still a futuristic robot, but now he’s a slightly different looking futuristic robot with a winter hat and a blue and white color scheme. It’s interesting to note that the hat stays on in all modes, meaning in Sentry mode his hat is on his butt. However, his bird companion, who has a tendency to change with Bastion’s skins, is now an adorable miniature tufted snowy owl.
You’ve also got your standard lineup of sprays and emotes, about which usually most players don’t much care, save for a single exception this year. Orisa got a new, very well animated, emote which is making rounds on the internet for cuteness factor. It plays out like this: Orisa ‘sits’ down with her four legs tucked under, pulls out a large wrapped present, opens it – and there’s a puppy. You can imagine what kind of animations ensue. For example, Orisa boops the puppy’s head. Yeah, Tumblr is having a field day.
The winter versions of some maps are also live, as are the two thematic brawls, Mei’s Snowball Offensive (which is returning from last year) as well as Mei’s Yeti Hunt, which is new this year. Early reactions to Yeti Hunt are lukewarm, as it isn’t the best-balanced mode the game has seen by a long shot. Winston (the yeti) needs to collect meat power-ups to boost his stats while 5 Meis try to hunt him down. Thing is, Yeti Winston is speedy by default, so picking him off before the 2nd meat pickup is impossible and at that point he’s a real danger. If he gets 5 meats, he goes into primal rage, and then killing him is basically impossible.
Whatever your feelings on Mei’s Yeti Hunt, there’s no denying that Winter Wonderland 2017 brought some really nice skins and one particularly cute emote to Overwatch.