As the last weeks of November are rapidly approaching, Overwatch’s Winter Wonderland event is right around the corner. This year is expected to see the return of seasonal brawls and a batch of new themed skins. With the developers neck-deep in making Overwatch 2, it is hard to imagine them putting out a new brawl for this event. Especially with the Summer Games and Halloween Terror events re-hashing their same brawls for another year. So instead, here is a look back at the Winter Wonderland event each year since its inception and the best it had to offer.
Winter Wonderland 2016 – December 13 – January 2
The very first Winter Wonderland event was truly breathtaking. While the Halloween Terror event saw a spooky reskin of Hollywood, Winter saw something a little different. The announcement showed three maps with holiday variants: Hanamura, King’s Row, and Ecopoint Antarctica. Each of these has been adorned with snow, festive lights, and the Aurora Australis is visible in the sky over Antarctica. Available as the maps come through rotation in Quickplay and Arcade modes, it really brings home the holiday feel.
Just as Halloween Terror included a new game mode in Junkenstein’s Revenge, Winter Wonderland introduced Mei’s Snowball Offensive. Players can only pick Mei in a 6-on-6 bout with a twist. Instead of her standard Endothermic Blaster, Mei is armed with a single-shot snowball launcher. It is quite powerful as it takes down an opponent with one hit but requires finding a nearby snow pile to reload.
The “Reflections” comic was released during this event. The plot revolves around Tracer as she looks for a Christmas gift for her girlfriend Emily. It also shows Winston as he prepares for a lonely holiday with Athena at Watchpoint: Gibraltar. But Tracer and Emily arrive at the end and Winston remarks with a favorable outlook for the upcoming year. The majority of the cast of heroes are shown but not featured.
Winter Wonderland 2017 – December 12-January 1
The second Winter Wonderland event came with another game mode and winter-themed map. This time it was the Black Forest getting a cozy blanketing of snow. All the omnic remnants have been removed, but a small nutcracker toy shaped like Zenyatta added in one of the spawn rooms. The Mei’s Snowball Offensive game returned and saw this map in the rotation alongside Ecopoint: Antarctica.
As the second year of Overwatch included many new game modes and additions to past games, Blizzard added in one more for the Winter event. This game is called Yeti Hunter and consists of five players using Mei and one as Winston. The Mei players are tasked with taking down the Winston as he tries to eliminate them for survival. For an extra challenge, the Winston gains 25% ultimate charge for consuming pieces of meat around the map, and Mei’s ultimate changed into a steel trap.
Alongside the release of this mode came a new comic called Yeti Hunt. This short comic shows Mei and Snowball as they hunt a Yeti. As they are laying a trap, a Yeti strikes. Mei envelops herself in an ice block and waits for the Yeti’s Primal Rage to subside. That gives her the perfect opportunity to strike and freeze it solid.
Winter Wonderland 2018 – December 11-January 2
After the influx of new content in the previous years, the 2018 Winter Wonderland event was a bit disappointing to say the least. There was no new game mode added, and it seems like Blizzard has stopped doing comics altogether. The only notable addition besides a handful of new skins was a winter variant of the Blizzard World map. This changed the lighting to night-time and added many festive lights and candy cane wrapping on the light posts.
While the new hero skins were solid and an adorable Wrecking Ball highlight intro was introduced, it is hard to look at this event and not feel let down thinking of what could have been. The developers were likely in the swing of creating Overwatch 2, which leaves little resources for new event content.
This trend has continued into 2019 with the same events rehashed over and over again, leaving much of the community clamoring for something new. But given the official announcement of Overwatch 2, it seems unlikely anything will be added to the game beyond skins until Overwatch 2 is released.
Following trends from these years, the 2019 Winter Wonderland event will likely release around December 10. The Game Haus will continue to be updated with the latest news and details about the event.
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Featured image courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment.