October was seconds old when people started declaring the start of spooky season, but Halloween is the one yearly event we're happy to let claim an entire month. No one complains when signs for costume shops start appearing on the sides of abandoned department store buildings—it's exciting, unlike the cloying Christmas songs that later invade all the still-operating department stores sometime in November. (It did, however, feel a bit tragic to see the Spirit Halloween sign on the side of an old Fry's Electronics, the iconic Silicon Valley electronics chain that went out of business earlier this year.)
Likewise, in-game Halloween events tend to start sometime in the middle of October and run for two weeks or so, and it never feels like they've overstayed their welcome. Here are the spooky game events we look forward to every year, and how they stack up against each other.
10. Rocket League – Haunted Hallows
Tyler Wilde, Executive Editor: The Rocket League Halloween event is my pumpkin spice: It's not truly autumn until Rocket League gets spooky. Sadly, this year the event is all about Batman, which isn't spooky at all. And rather than collecting candy corn like we used to, you just complete boring event challenges to unlock cosmetics. Boo. Not like a ghost; I mean boo, that sucks—convincing your team to play one more match at 1am because you just need a few more candy corn to get the stupid gargoyle car hat you want.
9. Overwatch – Halloween Terror
Andy Chalk, US News Lead: The annual Overwatch festival of fright brings back Junkenstein's Revenge with new Challenge Missions that make the stampeding zomnics even more dangerous than ever. There are also weekly challenges to complete, with sprays, icons, and Epic Skins up for grabs, and Halloween Terror Loot Boxes filled with new cosmetics and oldies from previous events. Sure, it's nothing new—Halloween Terror has been serving up tricks and treats since 2016—but holidays are all about tradition, right? And some of those cosmetics are pretty sweet.
Morgan Park, Staff Writer: Yeah, it's the same fun PvE mode every year, usually with one or two new enemy types to coincide with new heroes added since the year prior. Considering Blizzard has put a pause on new heroes until Overwatch 2 comes out, there's not much to get excited about other than cool skins.
8. Apex Legends – Monsters Within
Phil Savage, UK Editor-in-Chief: A bit of a misfire this year, with the first two weeks of the event being little more than a shop update for new spooky skins. This has caused some frustration among the community, given this season of Apex already felt pretty light. The headline feature of Monsters Within (well, outside of the cash shop) is Encore, a new Arenas map that is… not Halloween-themed in the slightest. Rather, it's set on Seer's home planet, and is just a map that could have been released at any time this season.
For the last week of the event, Shadow Royale mode returns. And yeah, fine, good, it's a mode where killed players return in shadow form and get to continue helping their living teammates. It's a fun enough way to mix up the formula, but overall Monsters Within is a weak package for a Halloween event. The best thing about it is the reward track has a few extra battle pass levels for those of us power boosting to 100 in time for season's end.
Natalie Clayton, News Writer: So this year's spooky Apex event might be a letdown, but it does win points for adding the first properly good Horizon skin in months—a fun homage to Arkane's Prey that infects our Scottish space mom with a typhon-like mass of worms. Thematic, fantastic.
7. World of Warcraft – Hallow's End
Alan Dexter, Senior Hardware Editor: WoW has made a big thing of Halloween since 2007, and somehow manages to weave the headless horseman into the game lore as a celebration of the Forsaken separating from the Scourge. Blizzard regularly updates Hallow's End, which runs for two weeks from the middle of October until the end of the month, but the main event is a daily dungeon run in Scarlet Monastery where you get to slay the headless horseman with the hope have acquiring his fiery-hooved horse.
There's plenty more going on, including collecting masks, trick or treating at inns, buffs to be had at Wickerman-themed bonfires, and a few others as well. This being WoW, there are a truckload of achievements to be earned as well. It's a decent holiday event, but it's been going for so long that it's easy to forget about, apart from the chance of getting the horse.
6. Monster Hunter World – Autumn Harvest Fest
Wes Fenlon, Senior Editor: Every Monster Hunter seasonal fest is a treat, because they bring with them special hunts you can't play the rest of the year and extra login bonuses. Your home base hub is lit up in special lights and pumpkins all over the place, so it really feels festive. Playing specific quests during the Autumn Harvest Fest earns you tickets you can spend on layered armor, which is Monster Hunter's version of transmog. That means you can wear your most protective gear while looking spooky.
But honestly, all that matters is that you can make your palico dress up like a ghost and wear a jack o'lantern on its head. Freakin' adorable.
5. Call of Duty: Warzone – The Haunting
Morgan Park, Staff Writer: Warzone is on its second Halloween event, and this year's is basically a thematic remix of the last one, which isn't a bad thing. The mode is basically Infection, wherein human players fight off player-controlled ghosts and become ghosts when they die. Players also have to manage a fear meter this year that, when filled, triggers obnoxiously loud jump scare gags.
I could do without the screen-covering scares and Ghostface narrating the match in my ear the whole time, but playing as a ghost is pretty fun. Ghost players get a handful of extremely un-Call of Duty superpowers, like a magnificent super jump and a blink-like teleport that are very fun to use. It's the most fun I've had in a non-standard Warzone mode since its release. Raven Software should make more modes like this that leave 'tacticool' at the door.
4. Rainbow Six Siege – Doktor’s Curse
Tyler Wilde, Executive Editor: I've never had much fun playing the Siege special event modes, to be honest. I am bad at them, and after my friends have had their fill of them I'm always thankful when we scuttle off back to defending boring old regular biohazard containers. But the Siege team always puts a lot of effort into them—more than seems necessary, in the same delightful way some people overdo their Halloween decorations—and the skins are fabulously stupid. I still use one of the horribile muppet faces I got in last year's Sugar Fright event.
3. Destiny 2 – Festival of the Lost
Phil Savage, UK Editor-in-Chief: With Mercury no longer in the game, this year's Festival of the Lost shifts the focus to Halloween versions of the game's Lost Sectors. The event itself is pretty cool: summoning and killing Headless Ones before dealing with a larger boss—one that, of course, has immunity phases that are broken by, of course, throwing orbs (pumpkins) at it.
Here are the two downsides to the event, from my perspective. 1) It's a grind. Arguably everything in Destiny 2 is a grind, but here you unlock new entries of this year's Festival of the Lost lore book by earning pages from other activities and then charging them within the Lost Sector itself. It's the typical Destiny loop of having just enough steps to feel like busywork. 2) I hate Eva Levante, the Destiny 2 event vendor, and her whole doddering grandmother aesthetic. And having to deal with the twee Halloween music every time you load into the Tower is a lot to ask right now. Look, the Darkness is at the door, and the greatest existential threat to humanity is currently 'trapped' crystallized in the home of one of our more tenuous allies. This is no time to get 'silly', Eva, FFS.
2. No Man's Sky's – Emergence
Chris Livingston, Features Producer: With Dune out in theaters and on HBO, giant sandworms are on a lot of people's minds. And with Halloween around the corner, No Man's Sky is going for a mega-wormy one-two punch. The game's long-awaited giant sandworms arrived back in 2020 with the Origins update, but the new Emergence expedition finally lets you tame them, ride them, and grow your own. You can even dress up as a worm with a new gross piece of alien headgear. Ridding a hostile planet of horrifying titanic worms and coming away with a worm-themed mask feels like a pretty good way to spend Halloween to me.
1. Guild Wars 2 – Shadow of the Mad King
Lauren Morton, Associate Editor: Phil's inspired the Guild Wars defender in me to log back on. Guild Wars' Halloween events are fun on their own merit, but there's an element of tradition to them that I love too. Some, like Mad King Says, have been going on since the original game. I love logging in to see the major player hub decorated for the season. A pumpkin-headed ghost king from the universe’s past arrives in Lion’s Arch every two hours to play a deadly game of Simon Says via in-game emotes. "Your Mad King says… dance! Dance for me!" Gaggles of players gather around to point and salute and sleep emote and are rewarded with tricks and treats.
Although it’s not changed much over the years, there are activities for just about everyone. There’s always a Halloween-specific dungeon, a loot-grind zone called the Labyrinth, and even a Halloween PvP mode. Oh yes, and Guild Wars 2's unique hellish activity: the timed Clocktower jumping puzzle. Plus, there are usually new spooky cosmetic items to purchase with your candy corn spoils. Guild Wars 2 Halloween is analogous to real Halloween for me now—a comforting time of year when you dig out the same silly decorations, play the same music, and tell the same jokes as always.
Phil Savage, UK Editor-in-Chief: The best thing about this one—other than the Clocktower—is its themed enemies. This is already a game that has ghosts, skeletons and monsters as standard, so instead the Halloween critters are more about the holiday itself: glow-in-the-dark skeletons, plastic spiders, candy corn elementals, and even a boss called the "Gourdbinder" who chucks pumpkins at everyone.
Tyler Wilde, Executive Editor: Take note of the candy corn spoils Lauren mentioned, Rocket League… bring them back! Also, though I don't know anything about this event, the image above convinces me that it is the best.