As we wind down our series of lists on the last year in massively multiplayer gaming, we wanted to take a moment and reflect on the wider world of MMOs. 2013 was a great year for the hybrid MMO with some truly solid contenders coming forth to earn your playtime. With only a scant few MMORPGs releasing, more players than ever before branched out into MOBAs, Action-MMOs, and MMOFPSs. It was a year of experimentation and exploration, widening horizons, and seeing just what the free-to-play market has to offer. Join us as we recount the best hybrid MMOs available in 2013.
Warface is one of the most underappreciated games of the year. This free-to-play first-person shooter initially became a hit in Russia due to its high production values and tight gameplay. Players were excited to hear that it was coming stateside, but a long beta period and underwhelming launch marketing, pushed it to the back of many player’s minds. That needs to change. Warface is an excellent squad-based, strategy-heavy shooter that delivers Crytek’s AAA graphics skills straight to your browser.
Firefall must set some kind of record for time in beta. It really makes one start to wonder what’s going on behind the scenes but let us assure you, Firefall is a game that you should be playing. When we revisited the game at the end of last year, we were shocked at how much had improved. Firefall now has a full-fledged game world on top of redone group mechanics, instances, better PvE, and some of the best third-person shooting you’ll find in an MMO. Beta or not, Firefall is a darn fun game we love whiling away our hours on.
8.) Marvel Heroes Online
Marvel Heroes Online was somewhat of an underdog at the start of the year but Gazillion has worked hard and turned the game into a great option sure to make Marvel and Diablo fans squee in tandem. 2013 was a year of incredible growth for Marvel Heroes, adding new heroes, revamping the endgame with new modes, zones, and loot options. Gazillion has also opened the doors on their free-to-play model making it easier than ever to unlock its more than 20 iconic heroes without spending money. Take our own Michael Bitton’s word for it: Marvel Heroes is worth another look.
SMITE made waves this year by offending masses of the religious faithful. But you have to admire Hi-Rez Studio’s panache: SMITE isn’t just any MOBA, it is a MOBA where the heroes are inspired by religious dieties. Pulling from a wide pantheon of more than 45 mythical gods, players get closer to their hero than ever before with a combat system more akin to a traditional MMORPG than Defense of the Ancients. This is a MOBA where the action feels personal and that makes it a standout from the crowd.
6.) World of Tanks
World of Tanks is a game for the record books. In fact, it already is! This past December, Wargaming announced that they had earned the Guinness World Record for most players on a single MOG server at one time. Their grand total? 190,541, all driving tanks, all blowing each other to bits. World of Tanks also made the jump to consoles this year, opening it up to a hungry new audience. This team-based strategic action game pairs an exceptional free-to-play model with a deep progression system that pulls you in and refuses to let go.
So why isn’t it higher on this list? World of Tanks is an institution, comfortable in its place, and pretty similar to how it launched in 2011. But when the core is just so good, that’s far from a bad thing.
5.) Planetside 2
Planetside 2 is the definitive MMOFPS. Whether you’re an infantry gunner, a medic, a pilot, a driver, a sniper, or a mech, Planetside has something for everybody. More important, it delivers on each of these experiences with an incredible level of polish. There are few game experiences more epic than rolling out with a squadron of 64 players to descend on a base in a battle of hundreds of other players. Filled with tanks, jets, choppers, and four wheelers, Planetside 2 feels like a super-scaled, sci-fi Battlefield. More than six-million players have enjoyed the game worldwide and with a 2013 jampacked with patches, hotfixes, and updates, it’s no wonder why. Planetside 2 is the MMOFPS PC gamers owe it to themselves to try.
4.) League of Legends
Who doesn’t know League of Legends? Riot Games’ genre-defining darling has been is a bona fide phenomenon. Even after four years on the market, League of Legends is still held up as a beacon of free-to-play design. What’s more, this super-hit has almost single-handedly propelled e-sports into the current generation. In fact, the only reason League of Legends isn’t higher on this list is because its settled into such a comfortable place, but make no mistake: If you’re not playing League of Legends yet, you need to be.