The Steam Holiday Sale ends on the 1st of January, 2012. It began on the 19th, and encompassed some of the biggest Steam game savings we’ve ever seen. Hell, they even gave Modern Warfare 3 a -33% off! Never thought I’d see the day that happened, but then again, I also had my doubts about seeing the day Duke Forever comes out. In addition, following Steam tradition since 2010’s Great Treasure Hunt, we have the Great Gift Pile and the Epic Holiday Giveaway.
For the Gift Pile: 6 achievements per day. Doing each achievement gets you a chance to get one of two things – either a Gift, or a piece of Coal. A gift itself can be either a game, or a savings coupon, which are notoriously… useless. Partly because they only become valid at the end of the Sale on the 2nd of January. Unless you’ve got the rare Golden Coupon, which can be used right now. However, all coupons will become invalid on the 1st of March, 2012. Keep in mind that regardless of being Golden, or plain normal, all coupons only work on games released before the 2nd of January. You won’t get any savings on upcoming games with these things. As for Coal, 7 pieces of coal get you one Gift. And you had best pray for a good one.
But there’s also been a new type of Gift introduced, and ironically, it seems like it’s the rarest kind of Gift. Yes, you guessed it… Team Fortress 2 hats. The Ebenezer, the B.M.O.C, and the Holiday Headcase, each rarer than the previous one, but ironically, uglier than the previous one (the Ebenezer is the most common one of the three, and it is ironically the only one that actually looks remotely… nice), are all hats that can only be acquired through obtaining Gifts. Good luck trading for one of these things.
As for the Epic Holiday Giveaway? Well, the more coal you have in your Inventory when the Giveaway begins on the 2nd of January, the more chances you have of winning one of 3 prizes. Third Prize will go to 1000 lucky Steam users, who will win a copy of the Valve Complete Pack. Second Prize goes to 100 winners, who will win the top 5 items on their Steam Wishlist. First Prize goes to 50 winners, who will win the top 10 items on their Wishlist. And the Grand Prize? One lucky winner, who will get… EVERY. GAME. ON. STEAM. Note that these prizes only include games that are available in the winners’ regions. Hardware isn’t included, so Valve isn’t going to send you a copy of the Razer Piranha if you win.
That’s about the long and short of the whole Sale. What, you want to hear my opinion about it? Well… the sale is… alright. The prices and savings are great, but the Gift Pile is… nowhere near as awesome as the 2010 Treasure Hunt or the 2011 Summer Sale (or Summer Seal, if you prefer). 7 Coal is way too much, I think. The earlier sales only had like… 3 tickets required for one prize. And you can’t even pick the prizes yourself! If games, TF2 hats or Portal 2 items (which are strangely absent from the Holiday Sale, by the way) were a bit more common as Gifts, then it’d be a bit better. At least we’d have something to trade, to get what we want. But as it is? There’s no point in doing these achievements, because all you’ll get are coupons. Still, maybe you’ll have better luck than I did. Get out there and get achievement-hunting, you rascals. Don’t forget – wait until the final day of the Sale if you really want to buy something, because you might just save yourself a lot of money by waiting to see if it gets an even bigger sale in the last 24 hours.
And, of course, TF2’s Australian Christmas 2011 update, their second annual Christmas event, is also almost over. The update includes one new “Linear” Control Point map, Foundry (as in it’s not a “Non-Linear” Attack-Defend Control Point map, like Dustbowl), and two new Dr. Grordbort item sets. One for the Engineer, and one for the Pyro. Buying each set from the TF2 Store will get you a bonus Dr. Grordbort Crest: Copper for the Engineer, and Silver for the Pyro.
The standard TF2 maps now have a festive makeover as well: all wires and cables in all levels have been augmented with festive Christmas lights, for that pinch of holiday cheer you always needed to feel while you were massacring squads of armed mercenaries. Also, 14 new holiday-themed, community-created hats and weapons, which are no longer restricted to the Nice Crates. You can now get these through drops, crafting or store purchases. We’ve also got 10 new Festive weapons, which can only be acquired through unlocking a Naughty Crate. In addition, you might get lucky and unbox a Strange variation of the Festive weapons, in which case, you’re the big cheese. The Strange Festive Rocket Launcher, in particular, goes for some insane prices in TF2 trading, so if you’ve got one, think real hard about what you’re going to do with it.
However, Valve isn’t going to let us give ourselves TF2 Christmas gifts. No, just like last year, they’ve given us a few treats. Like the new Spirit of Giving miscellaneous item, a Soviet-era portable X-ray machine that not only tracks the number of Secret Saxton gifts you’ve given, but shows your heart grow in size as you give more. I think the Grinch might be getting a hard-on for this stuff as we speak. It was only given to Premium TF2 players, who also got a Secret Saxton of their own for free, from Valve. All players also got a special Christmas-themed Noise Maker. And Valve also gave us two lovely Christmas comics: “A Smissmas Story” , and “True Meaning”. Well, chalk these two along with that huge Dota 2 comic, that Rudolph comic from the Valve Store, and that Portal 2 lullaby comic, for a possible “Valve Presents 2” from Dark Horse, because these are absolutely awesome! Although they’re obviously not as great as the Dota 2 comic. Nothing ever will be. Apart from the HL3 comic. Which, I hope, I’ll get to read before my grandchildren invite me to their wedding.
What do I think about the update? Well, it’s pretty damn awesome! A thousand times better than last year’s lackluster Christmas update. Foundry is an awesome map, and it features some interesting hints towards the future of the RED Team, or, perhaps, the future of Team Fortress as a whole. The new Grordbort sets are also really great – it’s about time the Engy got something new, and Valve didn’t disappoint! And the 14 community items? Quite awesome! The weapons shake up the gameplay a lot, and are fun to use. And the hats and miscs are quite lovely, although nothing will ever part me from my Genuine Killer Exclusive and my LambdaGeneration-themed Clan Pride. Nothing.
Well… what more is there to say? Get in TF2 while there’s still time, to catch the end of what has been a pretty great holiday update! And perhaps take a look over the Steam Holiday Sale, just in case something catches your eye. As for me? Time for a little rest and relaxation before we enter the New Yea- wait a second. What’s this… “cease-and-desist order”? “Valve Corporation”? “Did not respect correct marketing terms”? “Liable to 2 years in a state penitentiary”?
Oh, crap. This is because we didn’t call it Smissmas, isn’t it? Damn, damn, damn! While 2 years in the slammer would make the wait for HL3 a lot more easy to digest… hmm. Stay here, readers! I’ve got some business to take care of!