Every year, ‘round this time in fact, every site in the known Internet starts listing their best of year awards. And who are we to judge? We’re no different after all. Fair enough, the year in new MMOs wasn’t so grand for 2013, but there were some bright spots. The staff here at MMORPG.com rounded up their votes and came out with our own Best of 2013 Awards. As usual, we have our five base categories: Game of the Year, Most Anticipated (for the year ahead), Best Hybrid MMO, Most Innovative, and our Rising Star. But this year, and for all future awards, we’re adding a sixth category: Best Veteran MMO. This award is going to be for the game that’s at least three years old and had a particularly great year. In addition, it’s worth noting that with exception of the Rising Star, Anticipated, and now Veteran categories, the winning games must have been officially launched in the calendar year.
Enough chit chat though, let’s get down to business.
Here are the MMORPG.com Best of 2013 Awards.
Game of the Year - Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
No brainer, right? Though a year ago, I doubt we’d have been saying the same thing. No one expected the rebirth of Square Enix’ MMO to be anything other than a total flop. But then we started seeing the product of all the hard work at trade shows, and then we got our feet wet in the beta... and then we were hooked after launch despite the overwhelming player response and subsequent server woes. But the actual result of SE and Yoshi P’s determination and pure grit is nothing short of extraordinary. FFXIV: ARR is a game truly worthy of the Final Fantasy name and easily the best MMORPG of 2013.
Runner Up - Neverwinter
Most Anticipated - Wildstar
2014 is shaping up to be one hell of a year, if all things come together. There are a slew of Indie MMOs launching, plus a big trio of AAA titles as well. But over the past few months, one game keeps rising to the top in our minds and though the staff was split between it and Zenimax’ Elder Scrolls Online, WildStar from Carbine Studios came out on top. We’ve played the beta, and hell we’re still playing the beta just for kicks. We know it’s getting wiped, but that’s the lure of what Carbine is doing. It’s a themepark MMO through and through, but more than anything its detractors might throw at it? WildStar is just plain fun. And call us crazy, but isn’t that what a game is supposed to be?
Runner Up - Elder Scrolls Online
Rising Star - EverQuest Next Landmark & DayZ
The votes came in even on this one. DayZ and EQNL both garnered the same amount of votes, and for good reason. Landmark represents the surge of sandbox oriented games driven by player-created content, while DayZ represents the out-of-box thinking and design mechanics that are so very needed in the MMO space. Who knows? Next year, WildStar and ESO may both just be notes on the wind, while the songs of praise we’re truly singing next December are all about Landmark and DayZ. Stranger things have happened.
Best Hybrid MMO - Path of Exile
Grinding Gears’ online ARPG set out to do what Diablo 3 couldn’t: create a truly deep and engaging successor to the Diablo 2 throne. And that’s exactly what it’s done, on a fraction of the budget. There’s so much depth, complexity, and replayability in this one that you could get lost for months at a time in building and tweaking your character. What’s crazy is that you’d never have to spend a dime to do so. Path of Exile is just one of a few great Action RPGs in recent years, but it’s definitely the best of 2013.
Runner Up - Marvel Heroes
Most Innovative - Defiance
Say what you will about the shape the game ended up in at launch, but Defiance’s overarching goal to tie a TV show in with an MMO shooter was a ballsy and ambitious move. It’s a pity that the game’s sales couldn’t match the enthusiasm of the show’s fans, but hey... it’s an MMO, it has time to rebuild and over the past few months the team at Trion has been doing just that. The best parts of the game and the show were the parts that truly crossed over, and here’s hoping that summer of 2014 will be a new era for the game. If not, it’ll always just be a decent online shooter that was much more enjoyable as a corny SyFy program.
Runner Up - Dust 514, Age of Wushu
Best Veteran MMO - EVE Online
Not many games in this industry can claim to be gaining subscribers ten years into their lifespan. EVE started out small and has built continuously and unrelentingly since its inception. Now forging into its second decade, it’s bigger and better than ever. With renewed focus on the space game that made EVE so addictive to begin with, the next ten years seem poised to be just as incredible for CCP’s flagship title.
Runner Up - World of Warcraft