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

Massively OP’s end-of-the-year awards conclude today with our award for MMO of the Year.

In 2014, we couldn’t reach consensus on an MMO of the year. In fact, enough of us voted “nothing” that “nothing” is exactly what won, which was a depressing way to end the year. I’m pleased to say that this year, the choices were a bit easier, in part because we took readers’ advice and opened this category up to all MMOs, provided they did something noteworthy this year.

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, and congratulations to all of this year’s nominees and winners.

The Massively OP staff pick for MMO of the Year is…

Final Fantasy XIV

mmooftheyear

Brendan Drain (@nyphur): Guild Wars 2. Guild Wars 2 became a very different game this year with the release of the Heart of Thorns expansion, and releasing the base game for free has brought in tons of new players. Several of my friends have picked the game up since it went free to play, and showing them everything in the game has really made it fresh again. It feels like that moment when everyone in your circle of friends finally gave in and bought World of Warcraft except this time it’s free and a lot more casual.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): Final Fantasy XIV is not a game I play, but it’s the only major MMORPG that didn’t spend at least part of this year mired in some sort of PR mess. And it managed to deliver a massive expansion in the classic style that somehow always manages to be a pure crowd-pleaser. The fact that it’s done so well post-relaunch is just icing on the cake.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): Final Fantasy XIV. Easy nod for me, and one that I don’t expect to get the win, but a game that deserves it. The game’s content updates roll out like clockwork, the systems are polished, the graphics are gorgeous, the community is happy, the whole thing hums along marvelously. The relaunch is an indisputable success story, it just keeps getting better, and the quality of life keeps improving with each patch – the most recent patch includes such off-the-wall features as an elaborate system for roommates, a new style of outdoor content as an experiment, and an entire RTS as a bonus feature. It’s going to take a lot to dethrone this one as an unsung hero.

Jef Reahard (@jefreahard): Again, no vote. Wake me up when Star Citizen, Camelot Unchained, and some of these other in-development virtual worlds actually launch.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): WildStar. Last year I wanted to put WildStar, but I held off because it hadn’t earned it yet. This year I strongly feel that Carbine has taken an ill-fitting business model, some development missteps, and a truly fun MMO and addressed the first two issues while boosting the latter. WildStar got great this year and hopefully will continue that trend into the next.

Larry Everett (@Shaddoe, blog): How can I not give it to Star Wars: The Old Republic? This is the year of Star Wars, and SWTOR launched an expansion that blew me out of the water. It added features that have drown me back to older content. And it continues to draw me back even when I should just walk away.

Matt Daniel (@Matt_DanielMVOP): Tough call, but it’s gonna hafta be Final Fantasy XIV for me. It is the one game in which I’ve spent the most time this year, by a significant margin, and I honestly feel that FFXIV continues to provide one of the more unique experiences currently available on the MMO market. Yeah, sure, on the surface it’s kind of a run-of-the-mill themepark RPG, but the deep gathering and crafting systems, the wide array of classes available, and the kind of storyline that only a Final Fantasy game can provide all combine to make a game that keeps me coming back.

Tina Lauro (@purpletinabeans): Can I possibly say anything other than Guild Wars 2? Nope! I adore the game, obviously, and this year was smashing. HoT is such a promising expansion, and there’s so much more to come. The excitement surrounding the title right now is undeniable, and I’m enjoying myself even more than I always did!

Final Fantasy XIV won our MMO of the Year for 2015. What’s your pick?

What was the best MMO of 2015?

  • Final Fantasy XIV (16%, 426 Votes)
  • Guild Wars 2 (10%, 255 Votes)
  • WildStar (2%, 61 Votes)
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic (7%, 188 Votes)
  • World of Warcraft (4%, 97 Votes)
  • The Elder Scrolls Online (39%, 1,022 Votes)
  • The Secret World (2%, 50 Votes)
  • ArcheAge (1%, 14 Votes)
  • EVE Online (1%, 36 Votes)
  • Skyforge (1%, 14 Votes)
  • Neverwinter (0%, 9 Votes)
  • Trove (1%, 19 Votes)
  • EverQuest II (1%, 16 Votes)
  • Landmark (0%, 3 Votes)
  • Star Trek Online (1%, 18 Votes)
  • Elite: Dangerous (1%, 33 Votes)
  • RIFT (1%, 16 Votes)
  • Marvel Heroes (4%, 112 Votes)
  • TERA (1%, 17 Votes)
  • World of Tanks (0%, 5 Votes)
  • DC Universe Online (0%, 4 Votes)
  • Wander (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Devilian (0%, 5 Votes)
  • World of Warships (0%, 9 Votes)
  • RuneScape (1%, 19 Votes)
  • Otherland (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Cabal 2 (0%, 1 Votes)
  • The Crew (0%, 3 Votes)
  • Nothing (4%, 115 Votes)
  • Something else -- please post in the comments! (1%, 23 Votes)
  • Lord of the Rings Online (1%, 35 Votes)
  • Dungeons and Dragons Online (0%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,634

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Poll options include all games nominated, all major MMOs that launched in 2015, and several major MMOs from the last few years.

MASSIVELY OP’S 2015 AWARDS
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130 comments
Rynn
Rynn

I agree with the editors. While SWTOR and ESO both had solid years, FFXIV has been killing it since it relaunched, and Heavensward continued that trend. It's the only MMORPG I've played since City of Heroes where my subscription is pretty much always active.

Marelius
Marelius

I had to agree and go with FFXIV. Shocked so many are going for ESO. The game just has so many bugs and issues and support over all is super bad. I really don't see the game lasting another year. Unless of course they change some people that have a better vision for the game. But to each there own! :-D

Despair
Despair

@Marelius Lol ESO is by far superior game to FFXIV, it's also doing much better. It's only a matter of time before it overtakes WoW (if it didn't already, millions of active players on each platform). And with Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood releasing next year Q1 and Q2, you can be sure it's gonna keep on growing.

Marelius
Marelius

@Despair @Marelius LOL go on keep dreaming. But I agree if they make major changes with developers and more so on bring someone in that can fix the lag and other major bugs then yeah they could over take WoW but right now with the team they have, forget it. 

Despair
Despair

@Marelius @Despair With the team they have? ESO team hasn't changed at all, they didn't lose any devs. Lag is only in PvP when there is 200 vs 200 player battles. FFXIV's servers can't handle 1/10 of that (but that's pretty normal, no other MMO has such huge PvP battles), that's why it's not surprising that devs never bothered with FFXIV's PvP. As for the bugs, ESO doesn't have any more bugs than FFXIV does, even though it's using much more modern complicated systems. 


Besides ESO's Cons are only with the technical problems. The game is in a superb state othervise. It might not be for you as it's actually for adults, compared to FFXIV, WoW and 95% of other MMOs on the market.


As for WoW they didn't even have 2mil subs in the West (Q3), considering ESO's optional subscription has been on top of PS4 "best selling DLC", it's fair to say ESO has at least 2 mil subs across all platforms, with active playerbase much higher.


As you can also see the polls -> ESO has 40% of all Votes. Or more than #2, #3, #4 and #5 combined.

And that is even on a site that not only heavily criticizes ESO, but also praises FFXIV and GW2 very much.

Despair
Despair

@MattyTock @Despair @Marelius Technically ESO supports up to 600 vs 600 vs 600, however most players don't have such a good PC to participate in that. EVE is probably the only "MMO" which would be able to compete with those numbers, but EVE is pretty basic anyways. The amount of spells going on in ESO PvP would crash EVE servers with just 100 vs 100, probably even less.

Marelius
Marelius

@Despair @Marelius LOL wow you just pull those numbers out like it is gospel. Can't believe a word you say and don't be shocked when ESO cuts back even more because of low pops.

mmonerd
mmonerd

@Despair @MattyTock @Marelius Really ? How on earth ESO server manage that high number of people !  Even when 20 plus people lurking  around in one place causes lag. 

wanderv15
wanderv15

Lotro because of Minas Tirith

Rogbarz
Rogbarz

Picked Swtor as I liked what they did this year with the game, second choice is ESO. Just a wonderful game and what a turn around !

Wild_Phil
Wild_Phil

ESO gets my vote.  It's also the only one I play regularly and pay for the monthly subscription.

ApathyCurve
ApathyCurve

Armored Warfare.  It's World of Tanks without the suck.


And yes, it qualifies as a MMO.  Massively says so.  Look at the default voting list, chumpy.

Loyheta
Loyheta

ffxiv. No doubt. I don't like the game as much as I want to but I know it is still a great game.

BryanCo
BryanCo

Anyone else surprised at the strong showing of Marvel Heroes in the poll?  Basically tied with ESO for fourth place* when I think most who follow the site could have predicted that FF14, GW2, and SWTOR would likely be the top three.


* That is, of course, as of the time I write this. 

poordevil
poordevil

Don't Have unlimited access to a high end gaming computer any more, it has been commandeered by my son, lol. So I have been regulated to my HDTV and the Playstation 4. That means FFXIV is the only MMO I can play. Glad to see it is regarded so highly even by those who have access to every MMO out there.


It is a very well done game. Even on the console with the controller it looks great and runs well. I am pretty casual about it, haven't joined a guild yet and pretty much solo the content except for the dungeons. I am level 30 something, an archer, and the combat is fun. My favorite attributes of the game is the writing and the attention to detail of the environments and characters. I haven't come across anything in the game that appears slipshod or half baked. It is a polished product from graphics, controls, cut scenes, motion quality of all characters and NPCs. All around a great product and a pleasure to play.


As far as the gameplay itself I split my time between rising in rank in my Grand Company, following the main story quest line, doing side quests for money, and filling out my hunting log. That is plenty to keep me busy!

ShagrathVtc
ShagrathVtc

SWTOR: KotFE is my fav in 2015! Honorable mentions: LOTRO's latest update and Wildstar's transition to F2P!

Pashgan
Pashgan

Without Warframe this is really strange list.

xania
xania

Surprised 3.15 didn't single-handedly tank FFXIV's votes.

WannaBAMBAM
WannaBAMBAM

@xania That's because some of us are LITERALLY a quarter done with it. I have the 4x4 HQ items and 7 each of the 4 items needed, shell, bone, etc.


I see people crying but, this can be completed in about 2 to 3 weeks easily, especially if you get to it.


When Relic hit, people said they wanted more time consuming relic quests. Instead we got grind Relics. Now the Anima is really about time and way less about grind.


Besides, step 2 wont be out for a couple of months so we got time.

xania
xania

@WannaBAMBAM @xania 

I find it extremely hard to believe you can get it done that fast, unless "easily" means hours of grinding every single day for a month, plus having traded in a Zeta, plus being good friends with specialist crafters of every stripe. And yes, it is a grind 100%, don't be silly. Hundreds of Alex runs, tens of thousands of tomes, I forget how many beastmen quests but it was a stupid amount - these are all ridiculous grinds.


Congrats on your weapon when you get it, but the Anima weapons are indefensible. Especially since Yoshi-P backtracked on his promise not to include bullshit like the atma grind ever again. Especially since they were pushed back from 3.1 to be fined tuned when it is literally the same things we've been grinding since forever. Especially since the rest of the patch didn't even pick up the slack!

Scarecrowe
Scarecrowe

Thank you, Jef!  We finally got a "nothing" option. (wish you had chosen something similar for the previous polls)


Personally, I detested FFXIV. I know some folks liked it but the amazing amount of repetitive gameplay even during the early levels just bored me silly. And that was just levelling one class. I'd have had to repeat that ad infinitum to level the others...

WannaBAMBAM
WannaBAMBAM

@Scarecrowe I just started a new character last night, what repetitive gameplay? Doing quests? Which quests in peticular? What made it repetitive?


Can't say dungeons, your first comes at 15. Can't say quests because there all different. The only thing I can think your doing is.....fates? But why if quests give enough xp? Hunting logs are fun too. Unlocking things.


So you can see where we get confused on your statement.

vicariousfan
vicariousfan

@Scarecrowe i keep trying to play it but yeah with the bugs and the repetative nature its very hard especially when there are MMOs that do everything better. 

thatchefdude
thatchefdude

@Scarecrowe Leveling the others is kinda optional, if you just want to play one class and its job, you only need to level one other class to lvl 15, which can be done in less than 1 hour.

purewitz
purewitz

This should be no surprise, but I'm with Larry. Star Wars: The Old Republic had the best year in MMOs this year. The first 9 chapters of Knights of the Fallen Empire and  Game Update 4.0 blew away every other MMO and MMO expansion this year. Plus as Larry said, "This is the year of Star Wars". As a whole Star Wars is just owning it this year from every aspect of the franchise in every medium. Its been ten years since the last movie, but Star Wars is back in a big way.

WannaBAMBAM
WannaBAMBAM

@purewitz Ummm no it didnt. SWTOR's expac had 10 hours of gameplay, then a grind with companions. Heavensward brought several new huge zones, over 100 hours gameplay(easily mind you),  flying, new dungeons, raids, 10 extra levels, 3 new jobs/classes, Diadem, Lords of Verminion, Triple Triad, etc.


Oh yeah, SWTOR got no new flash points or raids........yet you think it did better........


Call me when they get swoop bike races and pazzak. And new raids and flashpoints. And i'll come back when it feels like I CANT solo the entire game without help at all.

thatchefdude
thatchefdude

@purewitz Seriously, cause I played KOTFE and I like SWTOR even in Year 1, and I have to say this update is one of the worst things to happen to the game... The story sucks, and its very linear and antisocial...even for SWTOR, which is pretty antisocial to begin with

WannaBAMBAM
WannaBAMBAM

@thatchefdude @purewitz I have to agree with this too. FF got new dungeons, raids, zones, flying, TT, etc as where SWTOR only got 10...er...i mean 9 chapters at 10 hours.


Besides, FF did NOT have server rollbacks, hackers, and companion nerf and buffs.

Hikikomicklori
Hikikomicklori

I have said it many times in the past, and will continue to until Square Enix does something to change my opinion, but Final Fantasy 14 is the only MMO out there that I believe EARNS the subscription money I pay it.

thatchefdude
thatchefdude

Didn't expect to see Square Enix nab both Best MMO and Best Development Studio for FFXIV this year...

IMO it is deserved, but I didn't think the MOP staff would actually award it...


My two cents on these types of things are summed up by this debate, which can be used to analyze a lot of different things:


When deciding on whether to focus business strategy (or sports, or war) on balance between aggression (attack) and defending, it's usually prudent to focus first and foremost on defending and securing what you already have, before attempting to grow your progress out from it...


And that's exactly what I feel Square Enix does with FFXIV, and HW is a perfect example of the game strengthening what it already does well, furthermore.

melissaheather
melissaheather

LOTRO for not only still existing, but for launching Gondor, with Mordor in sight now, and the game did the smart thing and started to converge its servers.   How they are handling those merges is a little sticky-fingered unfortunately, so, shrug.    One thing I think we can safely say is that this game will "finish" by adding Mordor and yes, maybe then it goes into maintenance mode more or less.  But what a glorious run it's been, and I think we'll look back and declare LOTRO of the greatest MMOs ever.   Even years from now. 

Neo_Wolf
Neo_Wolf

SWTOR had an awesome year for the most part (although they're pretty much ruined the drop rates of packs as things stand, which is a shame) but in comparison to the awesome content that was KotFe and Shadow of Revan its all good..


ESO also had a good year Imperial City (meh, though PVP'ers rejoice) Orsinium (yay) some great additions to the Crown store (including the zombie horse I personally suggested, your welcome!), UI still sucks and I don't like the whole leave it to the community to mod functionality in aspect..(I would sooner improve upon greatness, rather than build the foundations).


Marvel Heroes ..not really an MMO but the character work these guys do is just first rate, their art team is very talented.. wish actual story content would drop as quickly though as endless repetition is mind numbingly dull after a time, and WHY they took the ability to choose your own difficulty out in favour of a slow auto difficulty creep I don't know, but it kind of ruined it for me.


So for my three choices I would have to voted for (and did) SWTOR, with ESO coming a close second.. leaving MHO to fumble the ball at the last minute despite a valiant effort.

vicariousfan
vicariousfan

@Neo_Wolf yup agree with SWTOR and ESO having great years,  ESO has really picked itsefl up.


Marvel Heroes... i just wish they would add playable content.  I have the ultimate founders pack and i got 3 hereoes up to 30 but i'm so bored of doing the same thing again and agian.


I find myself playing DIABLO 3 more just cause they have ways of making the same content fun and interesting. 

WannaBAMBAM
WannaBAMBAM

@vicariousfan @Neo_Wolf "I find myself playing DIABLO 3 more just cause they have ways of making the same content fun and interesting. "


==========================


Because you can solo the entire game like SWTOR? I did.

SallyBowls1
SallyBowls1

@BigJohnny1982  32 people is not a 2004 MMO.  2015, I am not sure.  In WoW, SWTOR, LotRO, STO, Rift, STO I very, very rarely see more than 32 people and if I do it is in town where almost all of them could just as well be NPCs.  

Long before 500 people became contiguous, the MMO would have crashed or spawned another instance.

The 23 other humans I interact with in WoWS is more humans than I simultaneously interact with than 99.9% of the time in "real" MMOs.

tylercles
tylercles

I voted "nothing." Not because I felt this was a particularly bad year for MMOs, but just because no single title rises far enough ahead of the pack to be truly worthy of the title.


TSW remains my favourite MMO, but this hasn't exactly been a blockbuster year for it. SWTOR seems to be making all the right choices lately, but I don't have enough firsthand experience with it to feel comfortable giving it the vote. FFXIV and ESO are both doing pretty well, in my view, but I don't think either has really done anything truly noteworthy or worthy of celebration.


In other words, we have no shortage of good MMOs, but it's hard to pick one that's significantly and indisputably ahead of the others.

MJ Guthrie
MJ Guthrie moderator

@tylercles Pretty much my thoughts.  Even though I love some games, and I think some games did decent, no one seemed to jump out as having an awesome year.

Dope_Danny
Dope_Danny

I honestly can't gush about FFXIV enough. Two biggest reasons: A - FF13 and Toriyama usurping the brand for a decade to push his tulpa waifu femcloud character LIghtning like Kin Jong Un in North Korea destroyed my faith in the brand, this renewed it. And B - After ten years i finally had an mmo i would rather be playing than WoW 'full time' so to speak, thats a big deal.


Its not for everybody. For some the cooldown is slow but i think it makes your choices a bigger deal especially when healing which i enjoyed a tremendous amount more because of this. Some find the job system annoying to level alts, for me that means my character is my account, when people see my character they see 'me' so to speak, not in an rp way but the name, the look its set in stone and that applies to everyone. You are never stuck as something that may get changed into something you dislike from a patch. You can explore every option on one character and i have wanted this since FFV, XI did it too but the sub job system just made the class identity feel a little 'eh' to me even if the game was great two. 

I love how i know people on my server not for being a top dps in the top raid team, but because they a chef that can give you the best deals on stat boosting meals, or a goldsmith who knows people who know people how to get things not easily found on the AH. Its the kind of thing i read about in things like .//hack or later Log Horizon and always wanted and its not everyones experience from what i've seen but i get a world where people go "Odins up, everyone to East Shroud!" and you can later be working on the garden in your free company house and notice one of the people you had fun with in the randomly formed raid group is actually a neighbour living in the FC house next door. 

Its an online final fantasy at its core, love it or hate it but its still a world i love and compared to mmos like WoW that are largely a single player race to max level to sit in your garroson and a que for lfr till the next expansion unless you have a raid team i actually look forward to logging into FFXIV hoping i have enough time in the day to do all i want to do.


Its not perfect, i'm really not happy with the limited number of BLM spells and much as i love how DRK is unlocked by following some gossip to a back alley rather than a guild i want way more jobs to be unlocked by finding things out in the world, but those are really the only major criticisms i have.


But i considered FF dead, FF "4.0" was a joke and nothing could pull me away from WoW for long.


But now its one of the biggest mmorpgs on the market behind WoW, its got its own blizzcon style events, a travelling orchestra, constantly surprising us with different things in updates other than just "enter instance to kill thing for gear upgrade" and 5 years ago nobody would have ever imagined it would still be going, let alone the best incarnation of the wrath of the lich king era mmorpg currently on the market.

krazy_wabbit
krazy_wabbit

Although I don't play this game I gave my vote to Ark: Survival Evolved because of the impressive sales numbers for an indie title, 2.5 million players since early access launch back May and the steady stream of new content.