Massively OP’s Best of 2015 Awards: Most Underrated MMO

Welcome to Massively Overpowered’s end-of-the-year 2015 awards series.

Every year, we poll our writers about the best and worst MMOs, stories, studios, and trends and assign awards to the winners (or losers, as the case may be). Last year, we broke with tradition and split our awards into smaller categories and individual posts so that we could consider them throughout the month of December, and it worked very well, so we’ll be repeating that format here. We’ll also continue providing our writers’ nominations and rationales (in some cases, we allowed them to choose two games to make the final decision easier); we think that’s helpful insight. And we’ll include a reader’s poll at the end. Let’s see whether you agree with our picks!

Today’s award is for the most underrated MMO of 2015, which was awarded to Elite: Dangerous last year. This time around, we opted to include pre-2015 MMOs, as long as they accomplished something truly notable in this calendar year.

The Massively OP staff pick for Most Underrated MMO of 2015 is…

Trion’s Trove

underrated2

Brendan Drain (@nyphur): EVE Online. Before you pelt the site’s resident EVE Online expert with eggs for picking a 12-year-old game as this year’s most underrated MMO of the year, head over to the EVE Updates website and take a look back through this year’s timeline of game updates. CCP has delivered more content, gameplay improvements and balance changes this year than in any previous year and the game has been significantly improved as a result, but most of the updates have flown right under the radar of most gamers. I’ve even seen some current players complaining about problems on the forum that were actually fixed earlier this year or are already in the works. The problem is a lack of visibility for updates as CCP drip-fed them throughout the year rather than packaging them up as a big expansion that could make a splash in the media.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): Trove. Trion pulled Trove almost out of nowhere, and its lean development created what no other studio to date has done: made a really great Minecraft MMO. It’s fun, it’s cute, it’s creative, and not enough people are talking about it because of the voxel graphics, but it provided some of the most MMO fun I had in 2015.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): Star Trek Online. I’ll be the first to say that STO has some issues, but it’s still a game I like, and it’s still the closest that any game has come to replicating the feel of City of Heroes’ endgame. A lot of its underrated nature, I believe, comes mostly from the fact that people who aren’t a fan of the IP get bounced off of the hull (which would be like me missing Star Wars: The Old Republic due to the IP – a real shame), or just bouncing off of the opacity of its systems as presented. Once you get into the game, it sings, and it’s consistent in updates, filled with content, and offers a lot of different ways for everyone to play.

Jef Reahard (@jefreahard): Lord of the Rings Online is severely underrated both for the depth and breadth of its game world and content offerings and for continuing to put out large, quality updates (Minas Tirith) despite parent company Turbine having a rough year.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): Trove. Trove might not seem like a “serious” MMO, but it has proven to be quite a popular title. Its launch and subsequent playerbase explosion showed that Trion did this little game right — and it continues to do so as it adds more classes and features on a regular basis. And RIFT didn’t have a massive expansion this year. but it did put out a few strong updates, including one that turned a raid into an instant adventure zone and another one that added a new calling (and six new souls) into the game for the first time since launch.

Larry Everett (@Shaddoe, blog): A game that I played very little of, yet it still made a mark on me is Trove. It launched this year right under the nose of most people, but because of the issues that Trion was having with ArcheAge at the time, it largely went unnoticed. Of course, staff here at MassivelyOP noticed it, so it’s hard to call it underrated by us. But the MMO community at large has probably not heard of this cute, voxel-based game.

Matt Daniel (@Matt_DanielMVOP): For me, it’s Elite: Dangerous (again). Yeah, I know it’s not really a “true” MMO, since there’s a single-player version of the game, but since the multiplayer side of the game puts all the players on a huge single server, I’m going with it. I’ve seen it get a lot of love in niche circles, but I think Elite: Dangerous deserves more attention for providing players with a huge spacefaring sandbox that, although still lacking in a few areas, provides multiple open-ended avenues of advancement ranging from trading and exploring to bounty hunting and pirating. Plus, if you’ve got yourself a joystick-and-throttle setup, Elite: Dangerous provides an immersive, in-cockpit experience that certain other big-name space sandboxes simply cannot provide.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): My vote goes to The Secret World. True, it isn’t new in 2015, but it has continued to offer players new content even with such a small team and amid financial woes. And the Halloween event this year was top-notch! The tie-in of a single-player experience with The Park was brilliant.

Tina Lauro (@purpletinabeans): I have to give a massive shout-out to Marvel Heroes here, even though I haven’t personally given it more than a cursory glance. I love how dedicated the team is to bringing out new heroes, I get a kick out of the fast-paced action, and the passion for the IP oozes off of Brevik when he talks about the game. I’m actually mad at myself for not getting into Marvel Heroes in 2015, so maybe that can be my resolution for 2016. I want to also give an honourable mention to SWTOR for much the same reason: I love what it does on paper, but I haven’t given the game the time it really deserves, largely because its key dates tend to clash with my beloved Guild Wars 2’s!

Trove won our award for most underrated MMO of 2015. What’s your pick?

What's the most underrated MMO of 2015?

  • Trove (8%, 160 Votes)
  • Marvel Heroes (4%, 71 Votes)
  • EVE Online (3%, 61 Votes)
  • Star Trek Online (7%, 152 Votes)
  • Lord of the Rings Online (7%, 135 Votes)
  • RIFT (2%, 46 Votes)
  • Elite: Dangerous (8%, 161 Votes)
  • The Secret World (13%, 267 Votes)
  • Guild Wars 2 (4%, 87 Votes)
  • The Elder Scrolls Online (16%, 324 Votes)
  • WildStar (6%, 117 Votes)
  • Final Fantasy XIV (4%, 78 Votes)
  • Skyforge (2%, 48 Votes)
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic (6%, 120 Votes)
  • ArcheAge (1%, 24 Votes)
  • Neverwinter (1%, 15 Votes)
  • TERA (2%, 35 Votes)
  • World of Warcraft (3%, 52 Votes)
  • Wander (2%, 45 Votes)
  • Something else - explain in the comments! (1%, 29 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,027

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Poll options include all games nominated plus several major MMOs from the last few years.

MOP’s 2015 AWARDS (SO FAR)
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165 Comments on "Massively OP’s Best of 2015 Awards: Most Underrated MMO"

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milosanx
Guest
milosanx

I have to agree with the polls, they seem pretty on line what I’d say is underated. Thee ones that standout to me are ESO and Elite dangerous.

Of course I’d say Wurm Online. But lets face it Massively rarely cover is and it is a niche game.

iridescence
Guest
iridescence

DDO. It has tons of content. Is really fun with a good level of depth and difficulty and endless class combinations. Sure the graphics kind of let it down in the modern world but I am still surprised I don’t hear it talked about and praised more for its many virtues.

skoryy
Guest
skoryy

Star Trek Online. Its come a long way since its start, and in a good way as of late as well. There’s no other MMO where I can boldly go where no one  has gone before while rocking velour and go-go boots.

wjowski
Guest
wjowski

Secret World.  Great writing, interesting missions, and a skill system that allows experimentation yet at the same time doesn’t leave the player feeling like they ‘wasted’ points.  It’s a genuinely different experience from WoW and it’s many clones…so naturally gamers left it to rot in obscurity.

wjowski
Guest
wjowski

Corvus Monedula DrowNoble 
I don’t know what having a dungeon finder has to do with being highbrow…and technically speaking all quests in SW are dailies except for plot missions.

catcatmoose
Guest
catcatmoose

DianeBradley Personally, it seems like an amazing game, I just had trouble getting my groove in it. It’s been like 3 years since I gave it a good try, I think I will redownload. You’re absolutely right, it does have so much. :) Don’t forget the excitement of finding shiny collectables!

NotoriousRekt
Guest
NotoriousRekt

Tina chooses Marvel Heroes even though she has zero to nil experience with the game….and admits it.
Jfc, what a joke.

DrowNoble
Guest
DrowNoble

Corvus Monedula DrowNoble I guess we’re not playing the same game then.
Adding decks and making Kingsmouth a bit easier is hardly moving it “toward the not different space”.  They realized that some people were having trouble getting into the game, so they eased the starter experience.  That’s not a bad thing, I WANT more people to play the game.
I also wonder if you’ve actually played the game, since “dailies” have been in the game since release.

Tethyss
Guest
Tethyss

DrowNoble It takes research to understand how their skill ‘tree’ works.  There are other confusing game mechanics.  Which is odd because the intro zones do an otherwise good job of teaching you the game basics.
So the baffled TSW posters will continue on wondering why their game isn’t well liked and super popular.

Vexia
Guest
Vexia

Pixelmancer Vexia Oof, is that so? Either way, thanks for breaking the bad news to me.

agemyth
Guest
agemyth

breetoplay agemyth It has been an overwhelmingly good year for games in general.

ghagen97
Guest
ghagen97

breetoplay agemyth Way different then last year, amirite?

Estranged
Guest
Estranged

schmidtcapela Estranged Gotcha.  Blah.

ZenDadaist
Guest
ZenDadaist

Corvus Monedula DrowNoble Depressingly accurate. Can’t bring myself to ‘Like’ it though :p

ZenDadaist
Guest
ZenDadaist

I don’t even play Trove (loved minecraft and played with friends for a few years, eventually got bored of it, no interest in monetising and MMOing the experience), and I can see that it’s quietly doing very well. Funny stuff, considering it was one Trion employee’s little side project doodle for a while. Seems that strategy can work for companies that aren’t Google too…

DianeBradley
Guest
DianeBradley

My “Something else” vote goes to EverQuest2, based on the fact that it has virtually every feature you could ask for in an MMORPG:

Housing with a pretty good function for building.
A good cosmetic system.
21 races, 25 classes, mercenaries.
Insta-travel to anywhere, plus mounts at any level.
Unique crafting system with thousands of items that are actually useful, even at low levels.

I don’t mean to sound like an advertisement, but I seriously wonder why more people don’t give this game a shot.

schmidtcapela
Guest
schmidtcapela

Estranged
For TOR, perhaps. Because it’s a MMO, so EA sees no need to add further DRM to it.

For about every non-MMO PC game made by EA in the last half decade or so? Unavoidable unless you crack the game. That would have been the fate of a non-MMO version of TOR.

Estranged
Guest
Estranged

You don’t install Origin.

Estranged
Guest
Estranged

The ability icons make me nauseous.

Estranged
Guest
Estranged

It is not a punishing FTP! It is a liberal sub game!
What is with the use of hate and punishing today anyway? Games aren’t Hitler. Games aren’t Momma with a belt.

Estranged
Guest
Estranged

Quality over auantity

Estranged
Guest
Estranged

@MJ_Guthrie The starting area difficulty was unreasonable. Now it is still takes good attention, but the mobs aren’t hit point sponges. A newb can still get destroyed.

Estranged
Guest
Estranged

Yep. I think it is due to a Lego incident in my youth. LOL

Estranged
Guest
Estranged

Ditto.

Estranged
Guest
Estranged

I started a new character due to the promo. This game looks fabulous on my PS4. Feels like a living world, mostly. Agree on the solid combat and quest flow.

Oleg Chebeneev
Guest
Oleg Chebeneev

Tongle Yeah. So I could put there half games mentioned in this topic

spoilofthelamb
Guest
spoilofthelamb

DDO. At a time when developers are increasingly appealing to the mainstream crowd, DDO is doubling down on complexity and freedom to create characters that enables players to fail completely. It may not be new player friendly, but it feels hard-core and dangerous. And while that isn’t new for DDO, it is increasingly different from what’s on offer elsewhere.

Pixelmancer
Guest
Pixelmancer

Vexia Despite being on Steam, I think that Trove still makes use of the Glyph launcher… so there’s no escape I’m afraid!

Vexia
Guest
Vexia

There are so many good possible choices! I definitely agree Trove is underrated. I know for a fact that they’ve been pushing out plenty of content this year, but I honestly haven’t played it since it went to Steam (which I should, since I won’t have to use that horrible Glyph app thingy anymore).
My picks would probably either be DragomonHunter because I don’t know of anyone else who’s playing it (speak of horrible apps…), or maybe no one admits to playing it, yet I think it’s great fun. 
Or I could pick Villagers and Heroes because I know they did a fairly sizable update, and much like the Trove situation, I want to try it out but have not yet managed it. I actually balk at all of the RP-ish choices they give you during character creation such as your homeland, your profession, the kind of house you live in, etc.

Vexia
Guest
Vexia

LordOfBread breetoplay Tongle For betas, early access games, and the like there could be a “most over-hyped” category. :P

Vexia
Guest
Vexia

ManastuUtakata tylercles Use that coal to stoke the dying flames of the MMO genre, of course! :P

PaganRites
Guest
PaganRites

TSW

SexyKingJesus
Guest
SexyKingJesus

warframe

schlag sweetleaf
Guest
schlag sweetleaf
Zariarn
Guest
Zariarn

Trove or Skyforge

Sythalin
Guest
Sythalin

Clearly the vote is skewed – WoW isn’t winning.

wolfyseyes
Guest
wolfyseyes

ESO gets my nod. It arrived in a state that was…foggy, to be kind, and being tied to a loved IP means “True Fans” were burned beyond recognition.
However, ZMO Studios put down some hustle that other MMO studios should take notes from, and the game now feels a lot more stable and true to what was intended. Despite that, it still seems to fly under in to the clouds of pre-assumption and sleighted fan anger. Which is a real shame, because the game really is fun. It has a good combat system that strikes a lovely balance of action-y yet nuanced, it has wonderful quest flow, and the game world really feels outstanding.
It’s not my go-to game, but it’s different enough to stay in my rotation.

Rozyn
Guest
Rozyn

ThePhantasm breetoplay Quincha Ha! GG

KenMitchell
Guest
KenMitchell

Hard to pick an under rated MMO on that list since all of them are overrated IMHO…

Caec
Guest
Caec

I’d be hard pressed to nominate/vote for anything in today’s 24/7 always on, seemingly prescient, news cycle as being “underrated”.

Llokki
Guest
Llokki

Corvus Monedula Hurbster MJ Guthrie paragonlostinspace Loopstah I think you might have to come to terms with the likelihood of you being in the minority here Corvus … the vocal minority, as it were.

Llokki
Guest
Llokki

Corvus Monedula MJ Guthrie Loopstah paragonlostinspace “Saying it doesn’t make it so.” Indeed. I’ve seen a couple of statements from you that you say as if they’re fact, when they actually are not.

Gylnne
Guest
Gylnne

Damonvile Corvus Monedula breetoplay Quincha I am not sure that thinking survives anymore, since a few games in alpha have some good polish on them.

Gylnne
Guest
Gylnne

breetoplay Quincha Reading between the lines of what Bree tried to say.:P

jonny_sage
Guest
jonny_sage

None. I think all the MMOs are probably overrated if anything. Maybe Pirates 101. Best game ever made according to a scientifically exact mmorpg.com poll.

Damonvile
Guest
Damonvile

Corvus Monedula MJ Guthrie Loopstah paragonlostinspace One reason people may not want to argue with you is because you’re coming off as a fucking nut job about the game. Everyone that’s even mentioned TSW has a little rant from you, and you have these hard line reasons that you clearly have no interest in any other opinion about and are ready to just pounce on anyone that doesn’t agree.

If you take a step back would you want to argue with someone like that…and if so….why ? Clearly you feel strongly about the changes but you’re not really providing any incentive to wade into a dark pit of nashing claws and teeth to discus them.

I don’t mean that to be as nasty as it probably sounds. Just giving you an outside perspective to think about. Passion is all well and good but it can be ugly sometimes too.

breetoplay
Guest
breetoplay

agemyth I would totally back those two too (Ascent and Gorgon). There are a lot of good choices for this award imo.

Damonvile
Guest
Damonvile

Corvus Monedula breetoplay Quincha And it’s still early access. These awards should only go to games that have left the kiddy pool.

dwhisper
Guest
dwhisper

MJ Guthrie Radfist Actually been pleasantly surprised with EQ2 lately. ToT is a solid expansion, and smooths a few of my (very justified) fears about Daybreak. At least it doesn’t look like the game will die on the vine. Maybe even all that Landmark and EQN stuff will get put into building it up.

DrowNoble
Guest
DrowNoble

I voted for The Secret World.

It’s easy to see how it’s underrated.  Too many people have the “Failcom” attitude, so they won’t even bother to try it.  Others are used to simple mmos like WoW, that hand-hold you all the way.  TSW is not your Sword N Board, Elf N Dwarf, mmo.  It takes place today, requires research to do some quests and has a different take on crafting and leveling.

Players always whined about wanting something different in their mmos, well this is it people!

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