Best Indie MMO: Shroud of the Avatar
How we love watching Starr Long, Richard Garriott, and crew keep at breakneck pace to make one of the most feature rich sandbox RPGs in ages. The duo was at E3 this year, and we were able to play an updated version of their current Shroud of the Avatar alpha client, one build prior to more wide release coming up in a few weeks. Simply put, it’s looking as deep and layered as any Garriott RPG, and we’re anxious to see how Ultima Online refugees react once they get their hands on Shroud.
Best Indie RPG: Pillars of Eternity
Yes, Obsidian isn’t exactly an Indie Dev, when they land huge contracts like BioWare and Bethesda often. But they successfully funded their passion project Pillars of Eternity through Kickstarter, and that means we’re going to classify it as independent since its development is entirely driven by proud backers. Our full preview is coming later this week, but Obsidian set out to create a classic Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale style RPG from days gone by, and we think they’ve more than succeeded. This is a game you’ll want to play, and it made many of us sad we didn’t back it when we had the chance, just to say we were there when it started.
Best RPG: The Witcher 3 – Wild Hunt
(CD Projekt Red)
There was only one other RPG that came close to The Witcher (Shadow of Mordor), but even that wasn’t close enough. CD Projekt Red’s third tale of Geralt of Rivia is easily its most ambitious, with the entirety of Poland rallying behind the once unknown studio to create one of the most detailed and rich RPGs we’ve ever seen. All the good bits of The Witcher 2 are here, from customization to the layered combat (with a fair amount of tweaks to make for a more playable PC experience we’re told), but CDPR has gone ahead and given players exactly what they asked for in the sequel: a gigantic free-roaming world filled with intrigue, choices, consequences, and little nooks and crannies to explore. This RPG is a shining example of a developer at its apex, unafraid to make just the game they want because they know its players want it too.
Best in Show: Destiny
This was Bungie’s show. Finally, players were able to get hands on with their next-gen MMO shooter: Destiny. And when we finally did, we were very pleased. The rock solid FPS mechanics you’ve come to expect from the former Halo developer are there in all their glory. But so too are character building, gear customization, crafting, world exploration, PVP, and a mission-based narrative to carry you through the game’s many locales. By default, any game with Tyrion Lannister as your guide should win an award, but it just so happens that Destiny plays as well as it looks. We can only hope that the full game is as compelling as our hands on at E3 (and in this weekend’s Alpha). Oh, and we also hope Bungie sees the light and releases a PC version too. But even if they don’t, we’ll be happily signing up our Guardians to take down some Fallen this September.