I’m not going to lie to you: 2015 hasn’t exactly been full of big moments of big announcements. Maybe it’s because all of the best ideas are already taken, maybe it’s because everyone likes different things, or maybe it’s because developers and publishers are getting lazy, but there’s no denying the fact that the MMO genre has seen better years. From a lack of real excitement or hype around releases, to a lack of innovation, it’s not like it used to be.
All that being said, even in the worst of times there are things worth celebrating. This list is dedicated to highlighting the releases that have already happened and the games that have shown the most improvement and promise so far in 2015. There are still big releases coming in 2015, such as Heart of Thorns for example, and the impending full release of Skyforge, but it’s already been a busy first half of the year. With that in mind, here are our picks for the best of 2015 so far.
Remember how I just mentioned a lack of originality? Well, here’s a game that is anything but original, yet it remains endearing, if not more so, due to how it improves upon an existing foundation. DayZ more or less pioneered the sandbox zombie survival genre and H1Z1 picked up the torch where that game left off. After the folding of Sony Online Entertainment, there was doubt about the fate of their various franchises, but it seems Daybreak Games has H1Z1 and everything else under complete control.
They’ve delivered consistent and robust updated ever since the game first hit early access earlier this year. With each passing patch, the game continues to grow, expand, and improve. Usually it takes most developers months or years to deliver the same degree of sweeping improvements. They’re showing no sign of slowing down as H1Z1 continues to etch out its place near the top of the pile of the zombie survival genre.
When Trove was first announced, I’ll be honest and say I was one of the people that wrote it off a bit. It looks a lot like Minecraft and doesn’t really seem to have anything drastically unique going on. But if you take a closer look and give it a chance, it’s a lot more than meets the eye. Trion has essentially taken the general design of games like Minecraft and adapted it to a proper MMO environment and believe it or not, it really works.
While Landmark continues to struggle with its big-budget visuals and lofty aspirations, Trove has quietly become the little MMO that could. The diversity available in the class selections alone make Trove one of the best-rounded games on the market, complete with all of the awesome user created worlds and content. Now if we could just get past those login queues...
5) ARK: Survival Evolved
H1Z1 is to zombies what ARK: Survival Evolved is to dinosaurs. Out of all of the analogies or comparisons I’ve ever written in the years I’ve been covering games, that’s easily the most accurate and appropriate one to date. In the short while since ARK’s early access debut, it’s already reached over 1 million sales – a point that many bigger AAA games still struggle to reach. I’m assuming some of that meteoric rise to popularity is due to the clever timing with the theatrical release of Jurassic World, but it’s a well-deserved feat nevertheless.
ARK’s been able to maintain its popularity throughout its life with a strong base to build upon. All too often you see Early Access games surge at their release only to die off in a manner of weeks one the updates stop flowing and the core game breaking bugs are uncovered. I don’t want to speak too early, but this one’s shaping up to the biggest surprise of the year. Here's hoping when it finally fully launches, we're still speaking just as highly of the game.