This year, you may have noticed that we’re not giving out staff end of the year awards. We’re a small group here, and getting us all to 100% agree on anything might prove... complicated. The Player’s Choice, despite their controversial outcome, were more than enough “official” awards. Instead, we’re taking a queue from sites like Giant Bomb and each of the main editorial staff members here at MMORPG.com (myself, Suzie, Garrett, Mike, and Som) are going to list out our five best and brightest games of 2012. The only kicker is that the games must be listed on our Game List. They can be in the beta stage, so long as they’re not under NDA, and the list is intended merely to convey what each of us has enjoyed the most over the course of 2012. As much as I might like to tell you about how much I love XCOM, I’ll refrain (at least after this one mention). And so without further ado and in no particular order, here are Bill Murphy’s Best of 2012.
Yes, it’s not out yet, but you can buy your way into the beta as a founder so what do we call that? Sort of released? Either way, I’ve been playing Firefall for almost the entirety of 2012, and it’s been a privilege to watch it grow as a game in that time. When I first started in the beta, it was barely a shell of the game it’s become in recent months. I know our Mike Bitton loves him some Planetside 2, but for me? I like to mix my PVE and PVP in the shooters I play, and Firefall allows me that choice. With an overworld that is set to be uncovered and discovered by player’s actions, and an ingenious leveling mechanic, there’s a lot of originality in Red5’s inaugural title. Firefall is still rough around the edges, but as it nears launch in 2013, I can’t wait to see where it ends up.
I can think of no other game in 2012 that tried to be as different as The Secret World, at least not at such a high profile level. It may not have been the smashing success EA and Funcom had hoped for, but it’s fans are loyal and with good reason. Ragnar, Joel, and crew have created a mythos that’s very interesting to watch unravel, and the Funcom designers have crafted some of the best quests you’ll ever play in any MMO. There’s a reason The Secret World ranks among this site’s most popular games despite its weak initial sales: it’s the kind of different and unique game we’ve been clamoring for since 2004, and it also happens to be a great deal of fun.
I won’t harp on about this game more than I have in my official review. Simply put, despite its warts, it’s easily the best themepark MMORPG we’ve seen in years, and I’ll likely be playing it for years to come.
SMITE, from Hi-Rez Studios, is in the same sort of beta that Dota 2 is: if you can find a key, or purchase a god-pack, you’re in. They call it beta, but it may as well be released in so much as that you can find your way into the game with your wallet or by simply heading to any number of sites that are constantly giving away beta keys. It’s the kind of MOBA I can get behind. One that apes League of Legends and Dota, but offers a control-method that makes for a far more visceral and (for me) entertaining experience. It’s a MOBA with MMO controls and skill-shots, plus... you can play as Thor, Bacchus, and even freakin’ Cupid. I’ll be very eager to watch as Hi-Rez builds the game in 2013, and hope with time and patience to see it rise in the eSports world.
Runic’s Torchlight 2 is my real Diablo 3. I played and enjoyed both, but which one am I still playing months later? Torchlight 2 does the character customization right, the randomization of maps right, the loot right, the online/offline play right, and yes... the player-made mods right. It does everything I wished D3 would have done, and it does most of it better. And for $20, how can you go wrong? Runic’s Max Schaefer told me at PAX Prime this year that the MMO-ized version is very much still in the cards, so long as TL2 and its inevitable additional content does well. Judging by the critical reception, I can’t wait until we learn more about Torchlight Online.
Want to heckle Bill about his choices? Stalk him on Twitter @TheBillMurphy.