MMORPG.com 2005 Electronic Entertainment Expo Awards
This is written every year, but once again it is the year of the MMORPG at E3 and that shows no signs of changing. With a wealth of games to choose from, many of these categories had several games that could or should have won. After much debate, let me present the list:
Winner: Hero’s Journey
Hero's Journey takes the crown
This game came out of left field to impress. In a year full of big budget, big company titles, Hero’s Journey offered graphics on par with all the major players and an extremely exciting look at their game play. E3 2005 marked a show where several high profile games were touting very similar features (state based combat), and in swept Hero’s Journey with their innovative group combat, highly cinematic missions, interactive environments and hands down the best character creation ever put into an MMORPG.
Runner-Up: Imperator Online
Despite its early development, Mythic is clearly on their way to another polished and exciting project. The game had great promise when we saw it in early April, but we were shocked to see how much it had improved in only one month. What really sold us is how even though it is a long way off, we were able to play the game, have fun and experience more than a video or demo. Things look bright over at Mythic Entertainment.
Honorable Mentions: City of Villains, Auto Assault, and Gods & Heroes.
Winner: EverQuest II: Desert of Flames
EverQuest II: Desert of Flames wins by a hair
This was a light year for the expansion pack market, but EverQuest II: Desert of Flames narrowly edged out the offering for Dark Age of Camelot as the most impressive addition to a game. SOE has been great about adding new content to their title as they try to compete with World of WarCraft, and this title will continue that trend in a big way. The new Arabian-themed areas will add unique environments, while the PvP slant should excite a large group of players. Combine their faction combat plans for the city of Maj’dul, the concept of arena PvP and the use of champions to fight with, scalable walls, and content that seeks you out, and it is a recipe for fun.
Runner-Up: Dark Age of Camelot: Darkness Rising
Horses! With some of the best models, and by far the best customization, we have ever seen on MMORPG mounts, Dark Age of Camelot continues to move forward with this expansion. Champion levels will give players a new level of individuality in the end-game, while Champion Weapons look phenomenal. There are also plans for much more, and the fact that it is so early in development is probably all that held it back from winning this category.
Honorable Mention: Anarchy Online: Lost Eden.
Winner: Pirates of the Burning Sea
Pirates of the Burning Sea stuns us with eye-poping graphics!
Yar! With water that can only be visually rivaled by that outside, boats that look real and fully 3D crews scurrying around on the decks, this game is stunning. Throw in rich, lush land environments, charming characters and spectacular lighting and this game promises to offer one of the best visual experiences yet seen in an MMORPG.
Runner-Up: Lord of the Rings Online
Recently renamed from Middle Earth Online, Turbine managed to catch us off guard with this title. We honestly did not expect to see much, but there it was on display and definitely on track. Turbine has a reputation for beautiful games, and this adaptation of the famed novels edges out its same-company cousin Dungeons & Dragons Online to create a visual experience that is tough to match. From flaming towns, to the way your character carried a water bucket, to actually seeing a character struggle with a spider web, Turbine looks like they will create the beauty of Tolkien’s words.
NCSoft had a very impressive lineup this year.
A sign of a good booth is when it inspires traffic jams. NCSoft did just that this year. The fact that they had one of the most impressive lineups (Auto Assault, Guild Wars, Tabula Rasa, Lineage 2, City of Villains and more) of any MMORPG company on the floor aside, they also put on an amazing show. A live band and fire show, an epic setup, and contests that let you win beta accounts by playing games like City of Villains really made the booth a highlight of the epic South Hall.
Several other titles also looked downright drool-worthy, but were left off the awards as they there was too little information. Age of Conan springs to mind as a candidate that may well sweep the graphics and best of categories next year.