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Best of PAX Prime 2011

William Murphy Posted:
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PAX 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 Prime in Seattle, we saw every MMO available for our viewing pleasure, and we've wiled down the lengthy list into seven "Best of" awards.  This isn't to say that we didn't love all the games we saw.  In fact, writing this was difficult because just about every game had something to offer at PAX.  But of the many on hand, these were the ones we feel really captured both the attention of the attendees and our staff.  Read on!

Editor's Note: Each game can only win one award, with Best of Show being awarded to the game we believe to embody the most out of each category.

BEST OF SHOW: Guild Wars 2

You may be saying "no brainer" with this decision, but the choice was actually very tough. In the end though, no game captured the buzz of the show more than ArenaNet's upcoming epic. People were lining up all over the floor, and it seemed like for the first time the mainstream press was starting to clue into what GW2 is all about. On top of it all, playing around in the Sparkfly Fen as a high level Asura Guardian and breathing fire on everything we came across pretty much sealed the deal for us at MMORPG.com.


Friday was the opening day for The Secret World's beta signups and EA and Funcom had tons of demo stations and signup kiosks on hand for people to register with. Across the show floor we asked folks what game they wanted to know more about afterwards was, and The Secret World prevailed almost every time.  With The Secret War beginning, and the persistent world PVP detailed (our write-up coming tomorrow), something tells us that Funcom has a real potential hit on their hands with this one.  And everyone is starting to take notice.

BEST PVP: Star Wars: The Old Republic

Hutball or no hutball, PVP was the theme of the show for SW:TOR and the people seemed to love it.  The map we played may have been little more than a capture and hold scenario, but the presentation and design were enough to make it stand out from all the rest.  Seeing Sith march against Jedi in this game is a sight to behold and we can't wait to hear what BioWare has in store for world PVP.


This is a little redundant, because they just won this award from us at E3, but it's with good reason.  TERA's absolute brightest selling point it's far and away it's combat.  From the targeting to the healing mechanics, the dodging, the enemy AI, and of course the skill combos there simply isn't another MMO that puts you in the battle as well as En Masse's TERA.


There are a multitude of reasons to be excited about Carbine's WildStar online.  But the part that drew us in the most was by far the Path system.  Players choose their preferred path at the beginning of their career.  Like their class it sticks with them and determines their play experience.  Explorers will climb the highest peaks, soldiers will fight the good fight, scientists will delve into the lore and mystery of the world, and settlers will build on and farm the land.  It's one of those things where we all went, "Why hasn't this been done before?"

BEST CONCEPT: End of Nations

A lot of companies have tried to make the MMORTS work, but few have embraced the idea and done it with such aplomb as Petroglyph and Trion Worlds.  The massive world on the brink of total destruction, brought back to order by a giant and faceless militaristic corporation.  Two factions work together to fight the Order of Nations, but at the same time they're vying for power themselves.  Throw in some excellent RTS mechanics from some of the genre's luminaries, add in some great persistent MMO features, and make it all free.  We're quickly becoming believers that End of Nations will popularize the MMORTS.

BEST VETERAN: Lord of the Rings Online

It may be easy to forget about games like LotRO because they've been out for a while now, but it's hard to argue with Turbine's success since turning the game into a Freemium title.  Just recently the developer announced that LotRO is fourth on Nielsen's most played PC games list, behind WoW, Warcraft III (yes, still), and League of Legends.  That's no small feat, and with Rise of Isengard coming out this fall, there's plenty of reason to still get excited about Turbine's version of Middle-earth.


William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.