PAX (whether East or Prime) is the show for gamers, not press, but that doesn't mean the press isn't abound and scouting the next crop of games for what's going to be huge and what's going to be a dud. At this year's PAX East in Boston, we saw every MMO available for our viewing pleasure, and we've cut it all down our definitive list of the best games on the show floor in the MMO space. These kinds of things are always hard, because just about every game had something cool up its sleeve, but the following five games really stood out from the pack.
Editor's Note: Each game can only win one award (though they may be nominated in others), with Best of Show being awarded to the game we believe to embody the most out of each category.
GAME OF SHOW | NEVERWINTER (CRYPTIC STUDIOS)
Without a shadow of a doubt, the game that stunned us all with its polish (even in alpha!), design, and fun was Cryptic’s Neverwinter. The studio needed a shot in the arm, and apparently they’re getting it with the Jewel of the North in Forgotten Realms. See our full preview for all the details, but you’re definitely going to want to keep your eyes on this one as it nears its 2012 launch.
Runner Up – The Secret World
MOST ANTICIPATED | FIREFALL (RED 5)
This highly anticipated MMO shooter is getting ever-closer to its launch date, and their booth was absolutely pounding with the shouts and cheers of its players as they roved about the open world and competed in competitive match play. At PAX Prime Firefall showed itself as a game to want, and the trend continued this year at PAX East.
Runner Up - TERA
MOST INNOVATIVE | THE SECRET WORLD (FUNCOM)
We were treated to a hands-on demo of Funcom’s upcoming release, and we also were guided along on a tour of the game’s incredibly in-depth progression system. With over 500 unique skills, a level-less system, three-faction PVP, and action-oriented combat (let’s not forget the ARGs and general horror setting), The Secret World is sizing up to be one of the most innovative MMOs in ages. June can’t come fast enough.
Runner Up - Firefall
RISING STAR | RAIDERZ (PERFECT WORLD ENTERTAINMENT)
An imported “Monster Hunter-esque” MMO, PWE’s Raiderz may have a silly z-addled name, but don’t let that fool you. It’s frenetic and fluid combat, complete with the ability to switch classes by picking up dropped weapons in mid-fight make for a highly entertaining beat-em-up. With a massive open world and big plans for live content events, as well as a very deep character customization system involving over 350 unique skill combinations, Raiderz was definitely one of PWE’s two surprise hits at PAX East.
Runner Up – DDO: Menace of the Underdark
BEST HYBRID MMO | SMITE (HI-REZ)
Hi-Rez Studios knows its F2P shooters. But what we were surprised to find at PAX East was just how well they know their MOBAs… and their MMO combat to boot. SMITE follows in the vein of League of Legends or Heroes of Newerth, only instead of RTS mechanics it borrows heavily from the MMORPGs we know and love. There are still minions, there are still towers and in general… it’s still a MOBA. But the difference is that SMITE uses third-person combat and controls that you’ve been long-accustomed to in MMOs. With 15 gods available so far, and more to come, and tight fluid combat, this is the kind of hybrid game we can really get behind at MMORPG.com. Keep your eyes peeled, it just might make an addict out of you.
Runner Up – World of Warplanes