Massively OP’s Best of 2015 Awards: MMO Expansion of the Year

Massively OP’s end-of-the-year awards continue today with our award for best MMO update or expansion of the year.

Last year was a bit heavier on MMO updates and thin on expansions since that was the trend, so the award was expanded to include both, and it was won by Guild Wars 2’s April feature pack patch. This year, we had expansions and patches aplenty!

All of our writers were invited to cast a vote, but not all of them chose to do so for this category. Don’t forget to cast your own vote in the just-for-fun reader poll at the very end.

The Massively OP staff pick for Best MMO Update or Expansion of 2015 is…

Guild Wars 2’s Heart of Thorns

best-update

Brendan Drain (@nyphur): Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns. While EVE Online has had some pretty great updates throughout 2015, none of them individually was as impressive or content-packed as Guild Wars 2’s Heart of Thorns expansion. The elite specialisations with alternate weapon sets give each profession a new way to play, the Revenant has a completely new style of gameplay, the Heart of Maguuma is an amazing looking zone, and there’s finally a bit more of an actual endgame. The launch itself was very smooth, and the expansion reveals certainly got a lot of attention.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): I was super torn on this one because I think Heavensward was a lovely classic MMO expansion (and in fact, before I saw the votes, I expected it to win this category). But ultimately, Guild Wars 2’s Heart of Thorns takes my vote. It isn’t exactly everything I personally wanted out of a Guild Wars 2 expansion, but I can’t deny that it’s a spectacular addition to the game for those who enjoy endgame play.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward. Remember when I said that this expansion was nearly perfect? Yeah, I stand by that. What more can be said?

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): WildStar: Reloaded. Despite its very rough launch, the actual update was awesome, with a new (and fair) business model, wonderful quality-of-life improvements, and a ton of excitement from new and existing players. Also SWTOR: Knights of the Fallen Empire. BioWare took a gamble with a new type of expansion and it really worked. KotFE had a stellar story — to be continued! — and shook up the established world, creating something much more exciting with improved systems to boot.

Larry Everett (@Shaddoe, blog): Being as objective as I can, I believe that SWTOR: Knights of the Fallen Empire set out to reinvigorate the game’s playerbase and brought many people back to the game to see the new story. Then it delivered. It’s possible that people who were looking for new, brilliant endgame are disappointed. But we all know that endgame is bad, right? For the vast majority of MMO gamers, this expansion hit the sweetspot of what they were looking for: new epic story content and a reinvigorated small group content. There are negatives, but I believe those have been addressed in other columns already. If there is a need for a second choice, I would go with Heavensward. I am not a Final Fantasy fan at all, but I do recognize when a game does something right. And Heavensward delivered on everything it promised and more. It’s not often that I hear of an expansion over-delivering, but that is the case with this expansion.

Matt Daniel (@Matt_DanielMVOP): Gotta go with Heavensward on this one. Three new jobs, one of which is one of the most unique classes I’ve played in a recent MMO, plus new zones, dungeons, raids, etc., all wrapped in a gripping storyline? Yes please.

Tina Lauro (@purpletinabeans): HoT, HoT, HoT! I couldn’t possibly choose another expansion. It’s reinvigorated by friends and added so much more to the endgame. As with any expansion, the feedback isn’t all glowing, but most people agree that the launch was very smooth and that the team worked amazingly well on the product.

Guild Wars 2’s Heart of Thorns won our award for Best Update or Expansion of 2015. What’s your pick?

What was the best MMO patch or expansion of 2015?

  • Guild Wars 2 - Heart of Thorns (33%, 477 Votes)
  • Final Fantasy XIV - Heavensward (20%, 284 Votes)
  • SWTOR - Knights of the Fallen Empire (14%, 201 Votes)
  • WildStar - Reloaded (3%, 38 Votes)
  • Elder Scrolls Online - Tamriel Unlimited or DLC (17%, 241 Votes)
  • World of Warcraft - Adventure Continues, Fury of Hellfire (1%, 20 Votes)
  • Neverwinter - Underdark (0%, 4 Votes)
  • ArcheAge - Heroes Awaken (0%, 1 Votes)
  • RIFT - Into the Wilds (1%, 13 Votes)
  • TERA - Knockout Update (0%, 3 Votes)
  • Elite: Dangerous - CQC or Horizons (1%, 20 Votes)
  • EverQuest II - Terrors of Thalumbra (1%, 8 Votes)
  • EVE Online - Proteus through Frostline (1%, 15 Votes)
  • Trove - Rise of the Shadow Tower (0%, 3 Votes)
  • Marvel Heroes - Avengers Age of Ultron (1%, 8 Votes)
  • The Secret World - Issue 11 & 12 (2%, 22 Votes)
  • Dungeons & Dragons Online - Update 25-28 (0%, 5 Votes)
  • Defiance - Alcatraz (0%, 1 Votes)
  • DC Universe Online - Episode 13-19 (0%, 4 Votes)
  • RuneScape - DarkScape (0%, 4 Votes)
  • Ultima Online - Time of Legends (0%, 5 Votes)
  • EverQuest - The Broken Mirror (0%, 3 Votes)
  • Cabal II - Ruins of the Gods (0%, 0 Votes)
  • The Crew - Wild Run (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Aion -Typhoon Abyss update (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Age of Wushu/Wulin - Awakening (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Dark Age of Camelot - Otherworlds (1%, 8 Votes)
  • Villagers & Heroes - Reborn (0%, 3 Votes)
  • Darkfall - Economy Expansion (0%, 1 Votes)
  • LOTRO - Update 17 Minas Tirith (2%, 30 Votes)
  • Path of Exile - Awakening (2%, 27 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,451

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Poll options include all games nominated plus a number of other MMO updates and expansions.

ALL OUR 2015 AWARDS (SO FAR)
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133 Comments on "Massively OP’s Best of 2015 Awards: MMO Expansion of the Year"

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SwobyJ
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SwobyJ

For what I’ve been playing? KOTFE. For what I really like seeing? Heavensward. Honorable mentions? TSW finishing of Tokyo, RIFT’s Planetouched Wilds. To be clear, this is personal perception and there may be, or likely is better content out there.

I don’t, or barely, count a F2P transition like Wildstar, though I admit it did add to the game.

bondoboblives
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bondoboblives

Quincha bondoboblives disUserNameTake He asked what I’d like to see more of.  There are not very many new armor skins, and as I said in the post above, I have gotten most of them already.

Dragonfang09
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Dragonfang09

GW2 – Barely un update, a glorified DLC with a full price tag barely belivable. Nothing particulary new or exiting, no deep core changes neither, 1 class, 1 extra weapon set for all old classes, thats about it. Oh, it took 3 years to arrive too… So… Idk how this is even considereded an expansion at this point. Or much worse, how it even won, but well, gamers these days…
FFXIV HW – A full expansion, textbook 101 how to do MMORPGs expansions for dummies edition. Sadly at the end of the journey, amazing dx11 upgrade, storyline and new level cap and classes, the expansion is little more than a re-skin of content, same 2.0 old formulas all over the place matched the start of a decline in the game that with the more recent patch, has reached free fall speed. 
Sad year for MMOs if these are the top choices xD

Esoteric Coyote
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Esoteric Coyote

bondoboblives I’d assume because it’s the only expansion they purchased this year.  People vote for what they own and know.

TiaNadiezja
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TiaNadiezja

I voted for Heart of Thorns because it’s fun, but honestly I think I’d lean toward STO New Dawn. Starting a new story in a game that’s been handling the same arc for almost six years couldn’t have been easy, but they’re keeping me interested for each monthly episode. Thr new Admiralty system is a pile of fun too (maybe just to me; I like numbers and making them line up) and has largely resolved the Delta Rising-era problem of spec point generation.
It’s great!

Dope_Danny
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Dope_Danny

I voted Heavensward because it did so many little things in ways i wishes mmos still did. Setting aside the story, music, art direction and so on the fact that you pick up a new job by hearing some gossip and finding a corpse down a back alley rather than just leveling a class from 1 and going to some guild was a refreshing change of pace. Also helped that it was the first tank class i enjoyed but it felt like the rpg part of mmorpg lots of other games lost to just have this job in the city waiting to be found rather than some big sign telling you to join the que for a free soulstone. That and the job story 30-60 was surprisingly entertaining.

I still havent tried HoT, the mary sue wild ride of scarlet briar being the best at everything forever was enough to put me off the game and i never picked it up again, but so far my friends have just had nothing but complaints about it so id rather stick with what im already enjoying for now.

ArbsX
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ArbsX

I personally feel FF14 Heavensward was the clear winner in my book.

ArbsX
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ArbsX

Karl_Hungus Agreed!

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

disUserNameTake  /shrug – if the customers think something is not fun or overpriced or ugly or a grind, then it is –  regardless of what you or I or the developers think. Vox populi, vox Dei  Game developers have control over what product they want to sell; they really have no control over what people like.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

Nyphur Modrain  Yep. bars for lines with 0 votes have their CSS style width as 1%; other bars gave an integer % as width, including 0%. .pollbar has a border of 1px, so with a small enough positive number of votes, the poor game is left with just two pixels of border and no creamy bar filling.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

disUserNameTake  Technically, normal people play zero MMOs. Of the 0.2% of people who play MMOs, I guess a large minority/small majority play one.  If number of MMO players declined 3-4 million this year, and the average person is playing 3, then the number of unique people not accounts would really be down.

airnoodle
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airnoodle

disUserNameTake OMG so much this, sometimes GW2 community baffles me how they tag the word grind onto everything. Sometimes you literally only have to do it once yet they still call it grind. I think to some people grind=time consuming/putting effort.

xlinkup
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xlinkup

breetoplay xlinkup OK so today I failed at hooked on phonics, and broke the poll……. Good job me.

Enikuo
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Enikuo

disUserNameTake Enikuo People like you just make GW2 fans look like sore winners.

bondoboblives
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bondoboblives

Quincha bondoboblives we can only wish :D

bondoboblives
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bondoboblives

disUserNameTake bondoboblives I’d like to see some real 5 man content.  If that means new fractals that’s fine.  I think the major problem is that wvw and spvp are in such bad shape atm, so you have to focus on pve (at least I am) and since there aren’t many new cosmetics to farm for.  THe new maps are great, however, they get old after a while.  Especially when you get what you want out of them.  Honestly if they had more armor sets for me to work towards that would go a long way.  Maybe not as many as in original release, but definitely more than what HoT provides.

Radfist
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Radfist

Stormwaltz The best part of the expansion is the casual new open world content.

disUserNameTake
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disUserNameTake

bondoboblives disUserNameTake So honest question: what additional content would keep you busy/happy?  Personally, I’m totally happy with the new maps.  They’re huge, interesting and re-playable.  I have not even started raiding yet.  Would like to see some new Fractals.  Getting bored with the current ones.

theeknighthood
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theeknighthood

disUserNameTake theeknighthood You obviously do :)

disUserNameTake
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disUserNameTake

theeknighthood Is anyone supposed to care?

bondoboblives
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bondoboblives

Quincha bondoboblives I wouldn’t even mind some reskins, just look at when they added the reskins with the champ bags (that started the champ trains in queensdale).  And honestly the legion weapons don’t bother me, especially if you compare them to legendary weapons.  I like the idea of the lore behind them (especially compared to the lack of direct lore with gw2 legendary weapons).  With legendaries you only get one skin or style, at least with legion there are a lot of different styles.  I just think that since cosmetics are such a huge part of gw2 that having more options are better.  I think we can both agree on that.

thatchefdude
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thatchefdude

breetoplay thatchefdude Sorenthaz Esoteric Coyote True, I think Square Enix even said more than 50% of players are from Japan, and ofcourse now the game is out in China too I believe…

Just a look at the server count and about 55% of servers are JP, 30% NA, and 15% EU….

bondoboblives
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bondoboblives

Quincha bondoboblives Do tangled depths, auric basin or dragon stand, there is a wait.  Trust me, I beat the Gerent pre-nerf, there is waiting.  So they added the amount of skins that WoW offers with a couple of dungeons and that’s ok?  I don’t understand the blind love for anet that people seem to have.  I love GW2, but it’s not offering enough currently, to make the $50 price tag worthwhile, especially when compared to some other expansions.

theeknighthood
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theeknighthood

Never heard of that GW2 expansion, but then I tend to scroll past anything related to that…. game

Enikuo
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Enikuo

disUserNameTake bondoboblives Geez dude, calm down. It’s just a poll. You’ve responded to every single negative Guild Wars 2 comment on this article. That’s overkill. Besides, HoT is winning.

bondoboblives
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bondoboblives

disUserNameTake bondoboblives All masteries unlocked, all raid bosses cleared, all spec weapons unlocked.  There are 3 sets of armor added to the game, 2 of which I have already, the 3rd is gated behind scribing and is very expensive.  You’re right that fractal rewards got updated, but it’s still the same fractal content we’ve had for over 2 years.  Only the legendary back piece is worthwhile and it isn’t even in the game yet.   All I’ve done has been at a very casual pace of 1 or 2 hours a night, with raiding on the weekends taking up more time.  Legendary weapons only took so long to complete because they were bugged for a long time.  I personally don’t care for the look of the new legendary weapons so I didn’t get them.  Sadly they only added 3, just like armor sets.  If you compare HoT to some other mmo expansions it pales in comparison to how much content they really added.  How many times should someone be willing to do the same meta event on the 4 maps before getting bored?  I’ve done it many, many times across all specs and it’s boring now.  I’m glad you think the xpac has “lots” of content, anet needs you to keep buying bundles, I’m just saying for me personally it’s not worth the price so far.  It’s not a disingenuous statement.  Hopefully LS will add new content and gear to work towards, I’m doubting it though.

SomewhatEclectic
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SomewhatEclectic

Corvus Monedula Issue #13’s out within the next week I believe. So that makes 3 issues this year which is pretty on-par with every year but the first.

disUserNameTake
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disUserNameTake

bondoboblives

bondoboblives 

“There just isn’t enough stuff in the core expansion to work on for longer than a month.”  

This is a disingenuous statement at best.  

Have you unlocked all profession’s masteries?  Have you map completed all of Maguuma?  Are you playing the raid?  How many times have you played the new LS?  Do you have all of the LS achievements?  How many times have you played the map meta events?  Have you made any of the new legendaries?

If by “not enough stuff” you mean “played through the content once” then perhaps you’re right, but if you play many hours a day you have unrealistic expectations on how much unique content it is possible for an MMO to provide.  At a certain point, you are always going to be repeating content unless your playtime is extremely limited.  So please don’t conflate your unwillingness to play through content with lack of the same.

I agree with you on WvW, as the new maps are a flop.  There are changes in the works there, though I don’t have very high hopes.

Fractals were patched yesterday, and the rewards drastically improved so your information is not accurate any longer there (though it is true HoT itself did implement the now rolled back loot nerfs).

Xephyr
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Xephyr

thatchefdude Sorenthaz Esoteric Coyote I think it does, it’s just that it gets a lot of hate as well. It gets a lot of hate because a lot of people are passionate about the game, even if they don’t like all the changes that are made.

hadizaheer
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hadizaheer

disUserNameTake hadizaheer It’s the way that most of the map content seems to cater to people running in event trains and throwing out the odd auto attack out there in order to hopefully get credit. What’s worse is that there’s skill points that are locked behind group stuff as well, so with their broken mega server tech and people being spread across different phases, it’s pretty likely you’re going to have a hard time getting some of the skill points. There’s just no fun in that. I get what you mean by ‘massively’ but running around in a zerg gets dull, fast. And farming these events seems to be about the only way to get enough xp to get mastery points (except raids I guess). And who in their right mind though it was a good idea to lock story content behind mastery. To each their own though I guess, the game is plenty popular, people must obviously be into that sort of stuff.

Stormwaltz
Guest
Stormwaltz

I’m went with SWTOR, since it was a radical shake-up in both player focus (pivoting systemically towards casual PvE) and in the background story/universe.

HoT got a lot of adulation, but when every article was yelling “difficulty! raids! difficulty! PvP! difficulty!” I was quickly persuaded me to pass on it. There are bits of GW2 I enjoyed, but absolutely none of them were “hardcore content.”
I’m just a filthy casual at heart, I reckon. :)

breetoplay
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breetoplay

disUserNameTake There are 12 serious awards planned, several fun ones, and a bunch more roundups and looks-back. That’s the best part of December. :D

Superbrak
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Superbrak

*reads comments
*looks at poll
Go go silent majority!

Superbrak
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Superbrak

Sigbjorn There’s a bunch to like about HoT. It just isn’t Xpac of the Year material… it messed up just as much as it improved, especially if you look at all three game modes as a whole.

bondoboblives
Guest
bondoboblives

I’ve played GW2 since release.  I love GW2, it is probably my favorite mmo.  That being said, I can’t understand why people think HoT is the best xpac of the year.  It offers so little compared to some of the other choices in the voting.  Hot launched with only three new sets of armor, three.  The raids are fantastic but don’t offer any kind of real upgrades for characters at all.  I know GW isn’t about the gear grind, but 4 weapon skins shared across 3 bosses?  That is too little for a game that is proudly nicknamed “Fashion Wars 2”.  Especially when they add new weapon and outfit skins to the gem store every two weeks like clockwork.  There just isn’t enough stuff in the core expansion to work on for longer than a month.  The new fractal overhaul was neat, however they gutted rewards (like with dungeons) and didn’t add any new fractal content.  Basically if you want to do smaller 5 man pve content, you’ll be SoL.  The new maps are beautiful and complex, but the new meta event system makes them feel extremely linear compared to old tyria dynamic events.  Basically you do the events, and then sit around for 30 minutes to an hour waiting for the meta to start.  I know a lot of people are thinking, “Just go do something else until it starts”, but you can’t leave the map or you lose your progress and even worse your spot in the map.  The new elite specs are fun and interesting, but unfortunately have introduced some of the worst class balance to WvW and sPvP that I have seen in any mmo.  The sPvP meta is the most boring it has ever been, it’s so bad that a “professional” esports team will rage quit the match if a single point cap is made.  WvW has new interesting maps, but some of the mechanics introduced with them along with how much is required to do for guilds outside of WvW has made the game mode a ghost town on all but tier 1 servers.  HoT’s story is by far the worst aspect of the expansion, extremely rushed and unsatisfying in almost every way possible.  So much story content was cut from it that during the final zone meta you’ll see people there that should have been explained but just happen to be there (nightmare court).  Like I said, I love GW2, but HoT was a major let down for me.  Hopefully the living story or even the next expansion offer more, I just hope we don’t have to wait 3 years to get the next one.

Cambruin
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Cambruin

Why isn’t LotRO’s expansion listed anywhere?! Oh.. wait.

Velimirius
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Velimirius

Heavensward hands dow best this year..

disUserNameTake
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disUserNameTake

Estranged Regarding GW2, I don’t really understand why the addition of new, completely optional content would dissuade anyone from playing the game.  The raid does not have any essential rewards which can only be achieved there.  I only raided a little bit the first day, and I haven’t been back since.  I may return to it, but there’s plenty to do in the meantime.

Anyways, I don’t think the Destiny expansion is on there because this is primarily a site for PC gaming (Destiny is console only obv) and also it isn’t really considered an MMO.  But yeah, I heard the expansion was pretty good!

disUserNameTake
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disUserNameTake

airnoodle I’m still not sure what people consider so “hardcore” about it.  Aside from getting ascended armor (which I admit can be painful) gearing up in GW2 with full ascended trinkets and weapons is not at all hard compared with doing something similar in other MMOs.  Beyond that, if you’re just working essentially for ascetics or other non-essential rewards, even if those require a lot of work or time, I would certainly not consider it hardcore.  And with new changes to fractals, it should be possible to get the ascended armor chests a lot more frequently.  Compare this to the endgame gear grind of pretty much any other similar “fantasy” MMO, and it is basically trivial.

airnoodle
Guest
airnoodle

HoT gets my vote, New zones are beautiful with amazing music actually its one of the most gorgerous looking envirment in video gamea. I know HoT is considered hardcore by many and casuals get very up and arm about it. But remember vocal minority is always the loudest.

disUserNameTake
Guest
disUserNameTake

That should have been “readership” and not “leadership” though I expect most of the MOP staff have this issue as well.  :)

disUserNameTake
Guest
disUserNameTake

It is quite difficult to vote in these kinds of polls, because normal people only have time to play at most 2-3 MMOs at a time.  And even that is pushing it if you have any other significant social or work obligations.  I expect most of the MOP leadership has the same problem.

That said, I would definitely vote for GW2 Heart of Thorns.  All the problems notwithstanding (and there are more than a few), it introduced enough new features and content, including the unique mastery system, that I consider it the best MMO expansion I have ever played.  The graphics and music have the same high standards we’ve come to expect from ANet.

Again though, I haven’t even played most of the games on this list much less their expansions!

McGuffn
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McGuffn

disUserNameTake Downloading the patch is such a grind omg. Watching a bar fill up is so 2002, can’t you make it a minigame instead?

disUserNameTake
Guest
disUserNameTake

And the most overused MMO term of 2015 is….

GRIND

Don’t like some content?  Call it a grind.

Need to collect some specific currency in order to acquire an item?  That’s a grind.

Repeat some event an arbitrary number of times?  What a grind.

You had to spend more than a few hours playing the game to gear up your character for end game?  Such a massive grind.

TheZebes
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TheZebes

As opposed to Tina, HoT decimated my friendslist and guilds. There was a small burst at first, but the “endgame” pop of GW2 is small. WvW is on life support and Guild activities are waning due to issues with Guild Missions and the grindy nature of everything. The one universal positive is the new zone rewards for the original game.

Scarecrowe
Guest
Scarecrowe

Best patch or expansion… I couldn’t think of anything that stood out this year so I scanned through the options.  Nope, none of them either. This poll needed a “something else” or “none of the above” option.

Veldan
Guest
Veldan

I voted Path of Exile. It’s not really an MMO, but imo The Awakening is amazing. And I can’t really vote for expansions of games I don’t like, even if they’re succesful…

Esoteric Coyote
Guest
Esoteric Coyote

Rozyn Esoteric Coyote Yeah there’s no bleeping way I’m paying 1200 gems to unlock LS2. Nope, suck it.  I get locked out of stuff, and the HoT story makes zero sense, but I don’t view it worth my time or money.  I do think things like the permenant tools and the salvage bot are great things to have, but they are not worth 40 or so bucks to buy all four.  I have them because I sold a precursor and converted all the gold.  At this point I’ve pooped out 2000-3000g in gems.  And it just feels like a waste.  Then you get Wildstar where I look at the prices of items and scream “TAKE MY MONEYS!”
TomTurtleEsoteric Coyote  Well things likes specializations and fractals were designed with plug and play in mind, that it be easy to add new content.  Raids might also fall into this category.  The reality is though they haven’t really added fractals and it’s too soon to tell if specializations or raids. To me Anet just looks like the confused John Travolta gif.

breetoplay
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breetoplay

Siphaed Quincha breetoplay I’ll go more into my picks next week — I’ll do the traditional debrief post on everything, and we’ll be talking about the awards on the roundtable podcast next week too :D

Cotic_OP
Guest
Cotic_OP

McSleaz 
I agree, content patch is a far cry from an expansion, spirit of fairness I guess.

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