MMO Wrap-Up: The Best of 2013
2013 was a... somewhat bland year for MMOs. Granted, we did have a few heavy hitters pop up over the last 12 months but ultimately a lot of people, including myself, were left asking for more.
Though, it may not have been a great year for the market itself, these titles are definitely worth checking out. So, without further ado, let's raise our glasses to the games that rocked last year!
Path of Exile
Path of Exile is everything refreshing about the hack-n-slash genre. Not only does it do everything that made Diablo 2 right but it stays away from everything that Diablo 3 did wrong. Grinding Gear Games put nearly 7 years into the development of Path of Exile with a large span of it being a "forever beta" till finally launching early 2013 and it pulled in a huge audience. With an immersive world, massive talent trees to customize your character, constant updates to keep the fans entertained and it's free-to-play, why wouldn't any Diablo fan join in? Path of Exile is the perfect addition for any hack-n-slash fan's gaming shelf. You can check out the game on the Path of Exile website.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Cost: $30 up front plus monthly subscription
For a lot of people, the Final Fantasy series is a dying name - mostly due to the fact that there's just so many of them. Originally, Square Enix had planned to launch FFO14 back in 2010 but scrapped the project for a full overhaul to release it on the PC and the PS3. Well, 2013 came around and Square Enix delivered but, surprisingly it did good; almost too good.
There was skepticism lying around this MMO before launch with fans of the series including director/producer Naoki Yoshida. This had a lot to do with the weak success of Final Fantasy XI back in 2003 - by weak I mean, targeted specifically towards a niche market. For some reason, which probably had to with what's been available recently, FFO14 has done extremely well since it's launch; beyond the expectations of Square Enix themselves. Set aside all the low hype, FFO14 is actually a pretty decent game.
FFO14 is a gorgeous game aesthetically, which comes as no surprise. It has deep character customization with hundreds of jobs and classes available to players to craft their characters. Speaking of crafting, FFO also features a pretty impressive crafting system as well. There really hasn't been a lot of features in a theme park MMO game since Vanguard and FFO returns to the genre with a lot of ideas that are drawing people in both old and new to the series. Although the game requires the infamous subscription fee and a $30 purchase of the game, FFO is definitely worth looking into. For more information on Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, you can check it out on the Final Fantasy website.
World of Warplanes and War Thunder
Cost: Free to Play / Free to Play
It's been difficult for people to wrap their fingers around these two games for the simple fact that, well... They're a lot alike. Setting aside the view of the two games, however, War Thunder and World of Warplanes are definitely two different games when you actually play them and it comes down to what you're looking for in a combat aviation game:
World of Warplanes was announced a couple years ago alongside World of Warships, which is scheduled to release in 2014. Wargaming sent out their developers to hundreds of air shows and museums to get a one-on-one view of each airplane they'd be throwing into their game. With World of Tanks sitting so well at it's throne as one of the best MMOs out right now, they had a lot of hype to live up to. Unfortunately, the launch didn't end up being as successful as expected. World of Warplanes was pretty buggy and players weren't too impressed by the combat mechanics of the game. However, over the course of a few months, Wargaming has smoothed out a lot of creases in the game and since, World of Warplanes has been a pretty impressive game showing off hundreds of airplanes from prototypes that never made the cut to the baddest wings of the 1930-1950 era. It's simplistic mechanics and heavy-hitting action has definitely pulled the Wargaming fans in and we can expect it to be a name in the eSports competition.
War Thunder was announced and dropped into beta just before the release of World of Warplanes which caused quite a bit of confusion to enthusiasts of the genre. Gaijin Entertainment made sure to have War Thunder stand out with realistic aviation mechanics and combat to show that this was definitely not World of Warplanes. War Thunder is more suited for the simulator fans on the level of: this game doesn't hand anything to you. It has some pretty difficult mechanics to master and can steer some people away but let's not forget that it's a great looking game with some awesome combat scenes.
Either way, between the two, these games will suit any airplane fanboy easily and keep them entertained for a long time. Whether you're looking for some simple gameplay or a complex simulator, one of them is definitely for you. War Thunder is available on Steam as well as their website. You can also check out World of Warplanes on the Wargaming website as well.
Age of Wushu
If you're a fan of martial arts, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, wire fu or just a good sandbox game, you may want to have a look at Age of Wushu by Snail Games. There was a bit of a buzz coming from some drama with Snail Games and the community when Age of Wushu initially released but surprisingly, Snail Games has delivered on all fronts to satisfy its North American market. Age of Wushu has recieved so much content that it's nearly impossible to complete it all. With a game tailored around the sandbox style and martial arts, it's definitely pulled in a large market.
Age of Wushu features a rock-paper-scissors action combat system which may not appeal to everyone who's become drawn into the new action combat system introduced recently, but it's definitely unique and worthy of pulling in a good group of fans. The game is absolutely beautiful and one of the more interesting aspects of Age of Wushu is that the world tailors itself around every action a player makes - something that a lot of MMOs need to start picking up. Either way, if you're looking for something different from the other games out right now, Age of Wushu is free-to-play and may draw your interest. You can check out the game on the Age of Wushu website.
For Dungeons & Dragons fans all over the world, Cryptic Entertainment's announcement of Neverwinter was a dragon call. Fans of the D&D games flocked to Neverwinter on release which made history as the 1st generation of western MMOs to launch as a free-to-play title right out of the gate. There was a lot of drama around the economy on launch, however, with expensive cash-only items that led fans astray from the title but Cryptic has listened and has fixed a lot of these issues.
Neverwinter is definitely worth trying, in fact with a semi-action combat system, immersive storyline behind a massive D&D universe and player-made (yes, player-made) content in the Foundry, there's no reason you shouldn't give it a go. Whether you're a die-hard fan of Dungeons and Dragons Online or of D&D in itself, Neverwinter is a perfect addition to your collection. You can check out this free-to-play title on Steam or the Perfect World website.
You may or may not have seen this one coming. Although Tera released back in 2012 as a pay-to-play title, En Masse relaunched Tera early 2013 as a free-to-play game and destroyed the market. There has never been a more successful free-to-play launch than Tera Rising, ever. A lot of it had to do with the new action combat system in an open, immersive world. Imagine having to aim every action you initiate at your target; what if you miss a heal? Tera Rising takes all those ideas to the next level.
Although voice acting might shy away from a triple A title and maybe the cliche story might not flatter every intellectual out there, Tera Rising saves all that with some really awesome gameplay. With 7 selectable races and 8 classes available to each, Tera has a lot of content for players to enjoy - including that awesome action combat! The game is absolutely gorgeous and enthralling once you get past the starting area, you won't be able to stop yourself from getting sucked into the phenomenon of Tera Rising. You can play Tera Rising for free on Steam or download it from the Tera Rising website.
Let's take a moment and think about... Space ninjas. Yes, space ninjas. Does that sound like a good game to you? Well that's what a lot of people thought when Warframe was first introduced but Digital Extremes has definitely impressed a lot of people with it upon release. Warframe is a 3rd-person, twitch shooter game with a primary focus on PvE. A lot of players began complaining about the focus on just PvE and lack of PvP and Digital Extremes has heard their cry (it's about time a developer has). Warframe now features guild housing, dueling, dozens of warframes to choose from and a promise of larger PvP content for players to enjoy coming into 2014. Warframe is a fresh take on the action, shooter genre for MMOs and has become one of the most successful titles to date. On top of this, it was released on the PS4. It's only uphill from here for this title. You can play Warframe for free on Steam or download it on the Warframe website.
If there's anything Valve is good at, besides everything, it's picking up developers that know their stuff. Does anyone remember Counter-Strike or Team Fortress 2? Valve has done it again with the Dota team and has finally, after a long beta, launched the LoL killer... Well not exactly.
For those who are new to the genre of MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena), the guys who made the original Defense of the Ancients mod for Warcraft 3 invented the MOBA. The guys over at Riot Games reimagined the MOBA with League of Legends and took it to the next level turning eSports into a real (literally registered worldwide) sport. Well, Valve picked up the Dota team and gave them the opportunity to rebuild their dream on Valve's famous Source engine and they have delivered big time. Being a big fan of the MOBA genre, I was more than pleased to see what they've accomplished.
Dota 2 features everything great about the MOBA with the familiar 3-lane arena, tons of champions to choose from, a huge item shop to build your champion from and a pony to bring them to you! Yeah, a pony, so what? Unlike League of Legends, Dota 2 features a little pegasus that will bring you items you buy while you battle it out in your lane which takes away the head ache of running back to your base to buy new gear every time you make some gold. The game is beautiful as well showing off everything great with the Source engine. Dota 2 also has a huge focus on eSports with live tournaments available to watch in-house as well as live games and a very fluid spectating system where you can listen to broadcasters talk and watch the players from their screen with hardly any lag - it's a pretty impressive system. If you're a fan of the MOBA, you have to check out Dota. You can play Dota 2 for free on Steam.
Cost: $8 Per month
If you've ever been a fan of Runescape, Ultima Online, Everquest or Dark Ages of Camelot, you might just find something special in Eldevin. At the end of 2013, Hunted Cow Studios launched its pay-to-play browser game Eldevin which caught a lot of interest in fans of the fantasy genre. Taking the old style of the point-and-click RPG style in an MMO universe similar to UO and Runescape, Eldevin has a lot of charm for what it is. The graphics may seem aged to a lot of people but the idea that it plays in your browser so smoothly with the way it looks and how big it is is very impressive. Taking the sandbox style of classless character customization and refreshing spin to crafting and a very interesting world to explore. On top of that, story-driven dungeons as well as raid dungeons for guilds to explore.
Taking a lot of ideas from the greats, Eldevin is a gem in a bleak year of MMOs. If you have $8 to spend a month and a love for fantasy, Eldevin might just be the game for you. You can check out Eldevin on the Eldevin website.
And That's a Wrap!
It's been an interesting, though pretty boring year, for MMOs. There's been some really great titles to come out suiting almost anyone's need but I think we've just been really spoiled over the past few years with MMOs. The bright side is that the system to the MMO is changing and it's about time. With games coming up like WildStar, Elder Scrolls Online, Everquest Next and Tom Clancy's The Division, 2014 will turn all that boredom and frustration away. So, if you can't find a home on this list, be patient for what's to come this year because it's going to be one hell of a ride!
Did I Forget to Mention Something?
There have been a lot of titles overlooked throughout 2013 for a lot of different reasons, whether it be marketing or maybe they just weren't up to par. The focus of this list was to mention the best titles of 2013 and maybe you found something better! Please let us know in the comment section.