It’s that time of year: the time of gift giving, receiving, eating, sleeping, drinking… and oh yeah, there will be games too. Amid all the craziness that was 2011, there really were a lot of things going down in the MMO world. For our own staff’s take on 2011, we’ll likely remember it as the year that MMOs began to really bust out of their shell, and as the precursor to a stellar 2012. Now, as we all prepare to light our Yule logs and drink copious amounts of eggnog, let’s sit back and recount MMORPG.com’s Games of 2011.
Feel free to chime in and offer your own insight in the comments too. It’ll be a good beginning to the Players’ Choice Awards coming in January!
Game of the Year | Rift
Many may stake the claim that Rift wasn’t innovative enough, but the fact of the matter is that the staff all sat down and tried to come up with one game that outdid Trion’s freshman title, and we simply couldn’t. Rift had an incredibly smooth launch, a stellar sales record, and oh yeah… it actually was good too. Like, really good. On top of a complete and polished piece of MMORPG goodness, Trion has continually improved the game and added heaps of content in the nine months since it was birthed in a manner heretofore unheard of in the industry. It may have some stiff competition in 2012, but there’s no doubt for us: Rift is the game of 2011.
Nominee: EVE Online
Most Anticipated | Star Wars: The Old Republic & Guild Wars 2
We hate putting up a tie just as much as the next person. But how do you quantify and evaluate the sheer strength of the Star Wars name and the rabid need for information everyone has when it comes to ArenaNet’s still somewhat mysterious game? With SWTOR launching officially tomorrow, technically putting it in play for the Game of the Year, eleven days of live service doesn’t exactly cut it. Still, it’s not every year we get a major MMORPG set in the Star Wars Universe from the makers of KOTOR. Then of course there’s GW2 and the unprecedented level of hopes players are pinning on ANet’s sequel. Though we don’t know when it’s coming out, we all know one thing: we want it now.
Nominee: TERA (The Exiled Realm of Arborea)
Most Innovative | DC Universe Online
DCUO definitely had its share of ups and downs throughout the year (a fantastic start that fizzled out quickly being just one example of the latter), but we all agreed that DCUO’s blend of console-style action, cinematic presentation, and PS3 status make it the most pioneering game of 2011. The combat alone, love it or hate it, was a real change in the standard tab-target affair of MMOs, and for it’s for that reason mainly we bestow the Innovative title upon DCUO. And let's not forget that it's the first MMO on the PS3, and by many accounts has done far better on Sony's console, making it one of the first truly successful MMOs on a home console system.
Nominee: Final Fantasy XIV
Rising Star | The Secret World
This award is intended for the game we think people need to watch for the coming year, one that may somehow be a bit under the radar or rising fast. And now that people have played it outside of the very limited beta, word is spreading that TSW is a game to watch for more than just us hardcore MMO enthusiasts. Our own Suzie for was on hand for the game's press hands-on event, and came back absolutely enthralled with all things The Secret World. April 2012 is not far away, and soon we think a lot of folks will be rallying the cries of their chosen faction and diving into the dark secrets of Funcom's next game.
Nominee - Glitch
Best Hybrid MMO | League of Legends
We reserve this category to reward the games that may not fit our traditional model of the MMORPG, but which certainly belong in the realm of MMO-fandom. And as far as many gamers across the globe are concerned, 2011 was the year of League of Legends especially when it comes to competitive gaming. Taking the DOTA formula and turning it into a genre all its own with clone upon clone on the way, LoL has popularized the gameplay of a simple mod into a whole new sector of the MMO industry. What does LoL developer, Riot Games have left up their sleeve? We may not have long to find out, but for the game many are calling the WoW of MOBAs, 2011 has been a year to remember.
Nominee: World of Tanks