Massively OP’s Best of 2016 Awards: Most Underrated MMO

Welcome to Massively Overpowered’s end-of-the-year 2016 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). At the end of 2014, 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 in 2015, so we’ll be repeating that format once again 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 just-for-fun 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 2016, which was awarded to Trove last year. Once again, we’ve opted to include pre-2016 MMOs for many of these awards, including this one, as long as they accomplished something truly notable in this calendar year.

The Massively OP staff pick for Most Underrated MMO of 2016 is…

FINAL FANTASY XIV

underrated

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): I’ve gotta say Landmark, and I say this as someone who barely scratched the surface of it. Most MMOs this year just didn’t do a lot for me, though admittedly it’s because I spent most of my time squeezing as much “experience” out of my Japanese life as possible. Landmark was one of the very few MMOs I could show my students and have them “get.”

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): Final Fantasy XIV. It might seem odd to pick XIV for underrated this year; it won GOTY last year, after all, but our readers didn’t agree with us. But the truth is that XIV just coasts along putting out content, never kicking up dust, never provoking angry mobs, never causing a fuss, never giving in to outlandish cash shop stunts, never lapsing into content or communication droughts — just doing what it’s supposed to do, head down and quiet, consistently competent, and so people tend to forget about it. I forget about it! Underrated and excellent. Runner-up: Shroud of the Avatar. The vitriol some folks have for this game is way over the top for what is a quietly competent roleplay-centric MMO.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): Final Fantasy XIV. It’s not exactly a surprise to people that FFXIV is doing things right now; it’s been doing things right for some time. But I feel like it sank a bit more beneath the radar this year despite offering a steady stream of content, great studio communication, and the promise of another expansion next year. I don’t quite feel like it deserves a “best of the year” nod, perhaps, but it definitely deserves props for staying the course and getting it right.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): RuneScape. I am constantly amazed by how much work and effort is thrown into this game. With multiple versions, a willingness to try out new experiments, a steady rollout of improvements, a massive Polynesian expansion, and more to come next year, RuneScape works so hard for its audience that I feel ashamed I’m not part of it.

Larry Everett (@Shaddoe, blog): DC Universe Online has been flying under the radar of all the mega games for years now. It’s six years old now, but in my mind it’s always been a great game and one that I return to periodically. I believe the game received unfair criticism when it launched because it was being compared to the now fallen City of Heroes. However, DCUO is still going strong. This year alone it’s launched 5 8-player raids, as well as a Batmobile arsenal full of other PvE and PvP content.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): I am giving this award to EverQuest II, with The Secret World as runner up. And no — it isn’t just because they are my two favorite games. EverQuest II still blows the competition away for amount of content to participate in, but folks still ignore it because it is old. It’s like they only want new and shiny, although all the systems they want in the new games are already present in EverQuest II. People talk about blowing through all the content of games too quickly, but EQII has so much there are still places I haven’t been to and quests I haven’t done even after all these years. And there are so many different classes to try! I hear complaint after complaint about how dated it is visually, but I’ve been in the last few expansions and they are pretty beautiful. In fact, the latest is stunning! True, the original starting zones are a bit shabby, but the new zones take advantage of new technology and they are amazing to just tour around and see. And the fact that there is still content, from expansions to big updates. OK, so the pricing on expansions leaves a lot to be desired….

Tina Lauro Pollock (@purpletinabeans): EVE Online gets my vote here due to Ascension’s launch in November: The free-to-play conversion and new tutorial opened the doors to a fresh wave of players and has rejuvenated the community. EVE deserves the award because it is the sort of MMO that gains labels such as boring and dated, and many of my friends still call the impressively expansive and freeform game a glorified spreadsheet. I could make the argument for Guild Wars 2 to be considered here too since all too many people seem to hold 2015 problems against the game at the end of 2016, but I think EVE is even more underrated and CCP has done more than ArenaNet in 2016 to not deserve it.

Final Fantasy XIV won our award for most underrated MMO of 2016. What’s your pick?

Reader poll: What was the most underrated MMORPG of 2016?

  • Final Fantasy XIV (10%, 232 Votes)
  • EVE Online (4%, 95 Votes)
  • DC Universe Online (1%, 33 Votes)
  • Landmark (1%, 25 Votes)
  • RuneScape (1%, 33 Votes)
  • EverQuest II (3%, 75 Votes)
  • Shroud of the Avatar (1%, 22 Votes)
  • Guild Wars 2 (5%, 112 Votes)
  • The Secret World (10%, 212 Votes)
  • RIFT (2%, 53 Votes)
  • ArcheAge (1%, 25 Votes)
  • Riders of Icarus (1%, 13 Votes)
  • Blade and Soul (1%, 26 Votes)
  • WildStar (6%, 124 Votes)
  • Star Trek Online (3%, 68 Votes)
  • Skyforge (1%, 13 Votes)
  • Neverwinter (1%, 29 Votes)
  • TERA (1%, 22 Votes)
  • Lord of the Rings Online (5%, 119 Votes)
  • Defiance (0%, 5 Votes)
  • Tree of Savior (0%, 9 Votes)
  • Dungeons and Dragons Online (31%, 700 Votes)
  • Trove (0%, 7 Votes)
  • Villagers & Heroes (0%, 5 Votes)
  • Wakfu (1%, 17 Votes)
  • Nothing (3%, 69 Votes)
  • Something else (tell us in the comments!) (4%, 83 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,226

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Poll options include all games nominated plus other frequently maligned MMOs from the last few years.

MOP’s 2016 AWARDS (SO FAR)
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