Perfect Ten: The 10 best MMORPG updates and expansions of 2015

There is no way we can list all of the great updates in a given year. It’s not possible. We are always going to have a bunch of personal bias creeping into things; it’s inevitable, and there are updates that get missed or otherwise lose out in the court of opinion.

I mean, let’s be honest, how many people actually knew what was going on with Final Fantasy XI? Other than me, I mean.

The important thing is that this was a year of updates, a year of changes, and a year of new stuff being added to games. So today I want to highlight what I consider the best of the back for 2015. They might not all be the most popular, and they might be things that you’ve heard from me before, but I’m still giving them the nod over everyone else.


Thank you for holding my breath.

1. Final Fantasy XI – Rhapsodies of Vana’diel

Real talk: I like endings. We don’t get many of those in online gaming because the whole point is that you’re supposed to stay around as long as possible, and by the time an ending would make sense everything has usually just slowly petered out. So I have a lot of respect for the fact that Final Fantasy XI actually got an ending, a final concluding push before maintenance patches and quality of life expansions.

I also was immensely pleased by how the ending played out in the macro sense, up to and including the crossover bit with Final Fantasy XIV. The traveler from another realm doesn’t just leave, mirroring and referencing player migration. It’s cute.

2. Star Trek Online – Season 11: New Dawn

I also like things that specifically take place after endings. The Iconian War was a big build-up over the years for Star Trek Online, and I’m pleased with how it resolved, but the fact is that I never was super on-board with it. It felt like mashing too many mysterious threats into some sort of Mysterious Threat Barn Dance, with everyone dancing to the same villainous tune. I like when all of the various factions of the setting are working against one another and not all dancing to the exact same tune.

So I’m quite fond of the fact that New Dawn picks up after the end of that whole conflict and keeps moving through the galaxy. I like that we’ve put the whole Iconian thing to bed and can start moving in new directions. And while the designers had mentioned future plans before, I really like seeing that there’s life left in the galaxy once the war is over.

3. WildStar – Reloaded

There’s a strong “wait and see” element to WildStar at the moment, by my reckoning. I don’t know if it’s ever going to be what it could have been. I have no idea if it can really gain back the ground it lost. But its free-to-play update and conversion were steps in the right direction, by gosh.

This is one of those games that I stepped away from not so long ago, but it still kind of entices me to return. Similarly…

All anyone gets me for this holiday are warships.

4. Star Wars: The Old Republic – Knights of the Fallen Empire

The biggest thing that keeps me from jumping back into Star Wars: The Old Republic is that I know I wouldn’t be right back to having the great roleplaying experiences that I had when the game launched. People have moved on, after all, and my Jedi Knight’s supporting cast of autistic artists, shy doctors, enthusiastic cyborgs, and accidental Sith all rely upon players who aren’t there.

But oh my, the stories on display. The mechanical changes. The shift to companions. I have been watching this one with rapt fascination, and while it’s a way from here to see if the expansion sticks the landing, it’s sure as heck stuck the takeoff and gotten people talking about the game again.

5. Final Fantasy XIV – Heavensward

Oh, you knew this was going to be here.

6. The Secret World – Issue #11

I went back and forth on this one. I’ve liked the stuff that The Secret World has been doing in general, but ultimately I went with Issue #11 because it felt more active. Issue #13 feels very much like a mop-up, but even Issue #12 was starting to move into that “clean up existing messes” territory rather than breaking new ground. But the game has been firing on high octane for a while now.

A shout-out should also go to The Park, of course, which I absolutely adored and left me wanting to see more in the not-too-distant future. I want to see another side story, this one was fun.

7. Guild Wars 2 – Heart of Thorns

I went back and forth on this one a lot, honestly. On the one hand, Guild Wars 2 did get our award already, and I honestly still feel like Heart of Thorns was sort of a mixed bag in terms of positive impact compared to just having an impact. On the other hand, I sure as heck can’t say that this one wasn’t ambitious. So the question becomes do I think misguided ambition is more desirable than functional stuff that doesn’t innovate?

Ultimately, yeah, I think I have to award ambition even if it slides further down on the list. I’m still not convinced that the effects of this particular expansion are all upside, but I do like that gumption.

Punch-drunk punch.

8. Champions Online – Onslaught

I don’t think this update was super great in the grand scheme of superhero MMO updates or expansions. It wouldn’t crack the top 10 if there was any other name in front of the update. But a Champions Online update with even a little meat on its bones makes me very happy.

The fact that it’s not a full City of Villains/Going Rogue-style update makes me less happy. But the reality is that that was never going to happen; the money doesn’t exist to justify it. This is something that could be done without a huge pile of new resources, and for that I’m thankful. I still hope for some kind of revival, but I realistically know that odds are low. I just wish.

9. The Elder Scrolls Online – Console edition

Does this really count as an update? It does in my book, and I’m counting it, because there are a lot of people who will play this on a console but might pass on the PC. My feelings on The Elder Scrolls Online as a whole haven’t changed all that much, but they’re dwarfed by my feelings of irritation towards games that plan on a console version only to abandon that plan when it turns out that console versions are hard, guys.

The “never mind, we’re not doing it” route could have been what happened. It could have even been expected, in fact. But it did get ported, and whilst I think some of the elements that this version cut are fairly vital, that’s why I play on a PC anyway, isn’t it? I’m sure the people who are enjoying it on individual platforms would feel differently.

10. World of Warcraft – Fury of Hellfire

This has been a really bad year for World of Warcraft due to a number of aspects that the designers really could have handled differently. So it’s interesting to me that amidst all of the things the game has been doing wrong, it released a patch in the middle that did a lot of stuff right. I think this one tends to get scowly side-eye less due to being bad and more due to the fact that it’s a bad “last” patch of the expansion.

Truth be told? I think if we could have gotten more patches like this one either side, people might not have been quite so annoyed. There would still be issues with the game, but stuff like Tanaan Jungle and the fundamental ideas behind Timewalking dungeons are pretty great. It gets lost amidst what went wrong in general, but that’s forgetting all of the things that the patch did right.

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten takes an MMO topic and divvies it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. Got a good idea for a list? Email us at justin@massivelyop.com or eliot@massivelyop.com with the subject line “Perfect Ten.”
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20 Comments on "Perfect Ten: The 10 best MMORPG updates and expansions of 2015"

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karmamule
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karmamule

Karl_Hungus karmamule Yeah, I had posted that story on G+ and it got lots of attention and comments…  Very sad indeed.  Definitely prior issues….

breetoplay
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breetoplay

Karl_Hungus I’ve just added 10 extra best-ofs for you Karl. Merry Christmas. <3

Madda
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Madda

meltedskul Madda Hello!

meltedskul
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meltedskul

starcallerasterei I can point to the same thing for every expansion though. There will always be countless of threads of “x is boring, I’m leaving” for any MMO.

starcallerasterei
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starcallerasterei

Im not sure WHY number 5 is there, considering how many people are leaving the game and lamenting how boring it is since HW came out..

Robert80
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Robert80

swingline2008  It’s less laggy, but it depends on builds and gearing a LOT.  As in, if you are built and geared for PvP, you are anywhere from 3-20 times tougher to kill than a PvE built/geared player.  While doing comparable dps in PvP.  The pace is really determined by the people present and their build.
Fights tend to be over fairly quickly anymore, unless you are facing the hardcore shield stacking builds.  At which point you and your ten friends may as well just split up in stealth since it’ll be two hours to kill them even with the damage shield nerfs.  Similarly vampires with health drain and some roll dodge builds are incredibly broken right now, resulting in very long fights.  Similarly, several good healers can make fights drag on quite effectively.  (In short, the 50% nerf to damage shields and healing feels like it isn’t enough in Cyrodil, and specifically damage shields need a massive tweak.  Roll dodge just needs to stop making abilities with an aoe effect involved miss in PvP and it wouldn’t be bad.)
It has… all the flaws that PvP in MMOs with classes and gear has always had.  There is still a ton of benefit to zerging.  There is discussion of making anti-personnel siege much more effective, which would make a huge difference in the zerging.  As for fixing the problems with balance, that’s going to take a lot longer still.
The combat itself has improved, animations are smoother and there is less interference with them (this happened long ago, to be honest.)  So if that was part of the problem, you’ll likely see a solid improvement.
The PvP addition, Imperial City… it’s an odd duck, with mixed PvE and PvP, but little reason for most PvE players to keep going back at this point.  So it just isn’t generally very full anymore.

meltedskul
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meltedskul

Madda I saw you on the RPC :D

Nyres
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Nyres

Sorenthaz Karl_Hungus karmamule sadly yes and hopefully he gets laughed out of the courtroom.

Madda
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Madda

Aw, okay. :(
Madda does find it pretty okay, but only because XIV is “love/hate” for Madda~
Merry Christmas!

Sazri
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Sazri

Champions is the ignored sibling of Cryptic’s stable. Neverwinter and Star Trek get the lion’s share of attention and resources, but that’s natural as they are more popular/successful. I had hoped, when City of Heroes was closed (DAMN YOU NCSOFT!), that Cryptic would try to capitalize on the players looking for a superhero MMO to call home. They didn’t.

Sorenthaz
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Sorenthaz

Karl_Hungus karmamule …Really?

Eliot_Lefebvre
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Eliot_Lefebvre

Madda In this particular case, though, I’ve said the same thing before many a time. I don’t like repeating myself when I don’t have anything extra to say; what I had to say I said when I did my first impressions (http://massivelyop.com/2015/06/23/final-fantasy-xiv-heavensward-is-almost-a-perfect-expansion/) and it’s still pretty much the same thing.

Madda
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Madda

Actually, yes. Madda loves it when Eliot goes into detail about a point. It’s one of the best articles that Massively can have IMO.

Eliot_Lefebvre
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Eliot_Lefebvre

Madda Does Madda really want to hear me rant about the expansion for the millionth time?

Madda
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Madda

Did Eliot get lazy for #5?

swingline2008
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swingline2008

I played in the Beta, and I am intrigued about what I hear of the game. How is the PvP? In beta the combat seemed slow and clunky. Has that changed?

Robert80
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Robert80

Karl_Hungus  Yeah, having one update offer a complete change to the leveling, along with some other interesting changes (CP cap and catch-up mechanics) with a scaling access so anyone with the DLC can join in… there’s a decent number of people who completely changed tune about the game based solely on that DLC.
I can see the console release being a big deal, especially given the people that only play console.  It’s just a really tough call between the two.  That’s how huge Orsinium has been as a sleeper hit among players in my opinion.

Karl_Hungus
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Karl_Hungus

karmamule Karl_Hungus 
Did you hear about the Russian who’s suing Bethesda because he lost his job and wife while playing Fallout 4 for three weeks straight?

karmamule
Guest
karmamule

Karl_Hungus I appreciate him lauding them for actually getting the console version out the door (and as a bit of an obsessive pleyer I’ve played it on both PC and XBox One and am quite impressed with what they did w/the console version), but I agree that Orsinium deserves some praise too.  I haven’t really done much w/it yet thanks to my FO4 obsession, but I appreciate all that content is there for me to do when I ease off on exploring my ruined homeland.  (I live in the Boston area)

Karl_Hungus
Guest
Karl_Hungus

For Elder Scrolls, the best update/expansion should be Orsinium. It’s a sleeper hit but a hit nonetheless. Oh and can 2015 end already? All this “best of 2015” stuff is getting obnoxious. 
Sincerely,
Karl Hungus
Professional Cynic

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