Well the end of summer is here. For most of us that means back to school in some form or work in another. This year at PAX Prime we saw a host of AAA titles and Indie Games that will shape the landscape entering into the final half of the year and the first few months of 2015. With a major presence by top publishers we are still in awe of the powerful independent game movement that is sweeping the industry. So without further delay here are the MMORPG.com awards for PAX Prime 2014:
Middle-earth: Shadows of Mordor
Just when you thought you’ve had enough of the Lord of the Rings games, Warner comes along and produces something completely different. Shadows of Mordor offers a very new take on the Tolkien legend and brings in a new character, new story elements and a much more adult theme on the world. This game is harsh, evil, and deep. You are not just jumping on shields and shooting orcs in Mordor, it is a much darker affair than that. We saw the game at a demo on Thursday before the show began and then watched as thousands lined up to play it on the show floor. This action RPG breathes new life into the series and players will be rewarded with a much needed fresh take on Middle-earth.
Best Hybrid MMO
Ubisoft is not the publisher you think of when the acronym MMORPG is thrown around. Then again no one thinks of MMOs when a racing game is mentioned either. That is why The Crew wins our Best Hybrid MMO Award. With features like the open world map of the US to explore and racing quests against online players the game offers a full online MMO experience. The other part that we love are the different styles of quests and races that you can do to keep things fresh. Upgrades to cars and your garage bring in an RPG-esque progression system to racing which will keep players coming back long after the main story is completed. The entire team had fun playing at PAX Prime. It definitely deserves our Best Hybrid MMO Award.
World of Warships
The Rising Star Award always goes to the game that we feel everyone needs to keep an eye on. World of Warships came out to PAX with a new build to show and let us get our hands on for the first time. With multiple maps and a huge selection of ships to choose from, Warships will make everyone want to try out managing a massive battleship from the older era of sea combat. With fantastically paced combat and a host of ways to manage your ship's movement and weaponry this game is a powerful follow up to the success of World of Tanks.
BioWare Austin has been dropping hints all over the summer about their dark fantasy game. Then at Gamescom we got our first look at Shadow Realms. From there the team came to PAX and showed off what they had been working on. Splitting up the players into a 4 vs 1 environment it really plays like a tabletop game taken to the screen. With deep lore and episodic content Shadow Realms allows you to work as a player or like a dungeon master of demonic forces fighting against mankind. Set in the modern day world with deep roots in magic and ancient times, we were very surprised by this one. It was a great synergy which worked well in what we were shown.
*Honorable Mention goes to Wander - an indie online game that deserves your attention. Find it here.
Pillars of Eternity
Throwback games seem to be all the rage lately and Pillars of Eternity takes a classic look back at the days of the CRPG's past. If you were a fan of games like Baldur’s Gate or Icewind Dale you are going to love Pillars of Eternity. After a strong kickstarter campaign we now got to see a solid playable build on the show floor. Fans who got in early have been waiting in anticipation for this beautifully rendered world to come to their computers. No, it's not really the Infinity Engine, but it's as close as you can come with more than a few modern touches to make PoE a world all its own.
Best Indie RPG
Once you pass the huge booths and big publishers at PAX you get to the Indie Game section. At both PAX East and PAX Prime this section of the floor was mobbed with people. Darkest Dungeon remains a beacon in the indie game movement with a small team and amazing artwork. The strong gameplay and deep story in this title make it an RPG to watch for next year's releases. Adding even more feature for PAX Prime the team showed off new classes, new abilities, and the town section of the game where players can try to relax from the horrors they witness when dungeon crawling.
Best in Show
Rift: Nightmare Tide
Best in Show this year goes to an expansion. One that really surprised us when we sat down at the demo and watch the transition between watery worlds and huge landscapes. RIFT 3.0 or the new expansion Nightmare Tide made us immediately want to get back into the game and play. Offering five new levels to players, a minion system, and a new story arc with raids and infinite new rifts to battle, the game flat out surprised us. Battling on the plane of water players will have easy access to the new zones and fight against the minions of the plane of fire who are invading to take over the peaceful realm. You can collect mounts and explore a glacier at the end of the cosmos for one of the top raids in the game. Trion is really on a roll with this expansion and you do not have to wait very long to play. Nightmare Tide launches on October 8th.