Massively OP's Best of 2016 Awards: Most Improved MMORPG of 2016

Massively Overpowered's end-of-the-year 2016 awards continue today with our award for Most Improved MMORPG of 2016, which was awarded to WildStar last year.

All MMOs, regardless of release date, were eligible for this award, provided they made improvements this year. 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 Most Improved MMORPG of 2016 is...

THE ELDER SCROLLS ONLINE

most-imrproved

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): Landmark. Once EQN died, Landmark seemed to start picking up what may have been the best scraps. PvP was removed for "reasons," but the storytelling aspect that suddenly popped in, as well as new crafting, was a welcome surprise.

Brendan Drain (@nyphur): Nominating World of Warcraft as a result of the Legion expansion.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): The Elder Scrolls Online launched as a solid MMORPG, but One Tamriel was a huge leap forward for the game and the genre. Not only did the game improve significantly as an Elder Scrolls game this year (thanks to One Tamriel's levelscaling as well as the Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood DLC), but it also improved significantly as an MMORPG and raised the bar for all other games vying to stay in the top tier of MMOs.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): The Elder Scrolls Online. Yeah, I said it. Look, I have things I don't like about the game, but making the entire experience level-scaled and approachable by everyone is really cool, and it makes for a marked improvement that trickles down to every single aspect of the game's mechanics. If that's not "most improved" I don't know what is.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): EVE Online. The dual tactics of overhauling its tutorial and offering a free-to-play model were brilliant ways to open up this game to the larger population and put EVE once more on the map of major movers and shakers in the MMO world.

Larry Everett (@Shaddoe, blog): The changes to Elder Scrolls Online started last year, actually, but they came to full realization with the launch of One Tamriel. I’m not completely ignoring the blunder that is the Crown Crates, but I cannot ignore the Thieves Guild and the Dark Brotherhood DLCs, which I believe changed the fundamental aspects of ESO for the better.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): Although I haven't really played it in forever I give this award to Elder Scrolls Online, pretty much for the One Tamriel update. I actually will play this more this next year now that I can enjoy it more with friends; that was what drove me away. And I am really really excited for the housing feature to go live! Just announcing that bumped the game up in my estimation by leaps and bounds.

Tina Lauro Pollock (@purpletinabeans): How could I justify nominating anything other than World of Warcraft after the amazing response to Legion? Considering the expansion has been as successful as Cataclysm in terms of sales and that the launch feedback was so positive, I just have to give it major props for pulling such a successful expansion launch out of the bag this far along in the game’s lifespan. It seems as though WoW’s mythical evergreen status isn’t going anywhere soon.

The Elder Scrolls Online won our award for Most Improved MMORPG of 2016. What's your pick?

Reader poll: Which MMORPG was the most improved in 2016?

  • Elder Scrolls Online (55%, 1,217 Votes)
  • World of Warcraft (15%, 338 Votes)
  • EVE Online (3%, 71 Votes)
  • Landmark (0%, 8 Votes)
  • Guild Wars 2 (5%, 99 Votes)
  • Star Wars The Old Republic (2%, 50 Votes)
  • Black Desert (1%, 21 Votes)
  • Final Fantasy XIV (3%, 59 Votes)
  • Neverwinter (0%, 7 Votes)
  • Skyforge (0%, 4 Votes)
  • Blade and Soul (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Riders of Icarus (0%, 1 Votes)
  • TERA (0%, 8 Votes)
  • WildStar (1%, 27 Votes)
  • DC Universe Online (0%, 1 Votes)
  • RIFT (0%, 9 Votes)
  • The Secret World (1%, 11 Votes)
  • ArcheAge (1%, 17 Votes)
  • EverQuest II (0%, 4 Votes)
  • Lord of the Rings Online (4%, 87 Votes)
  • Trove (0%, 4 Votes)
  • Star Trek Online (1%, 19 Votes)
  • RuneScape (1%, 14 Votes)
  • Age of Conan (0%, 6 Votes)
  • Destiny (0%, 5 Votes)
  • Defiance (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Aion (0%, 4 Votes)
  • Path of Exile (2%, 35 Votes)
  • Devilian (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Nothing (2%, 49 Votes)
  • Something else (let us know in the comments!) (1%, 20 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,198

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

MOP's 2016 AWARDS (SO FAR)
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103 comments
FeveredDreamer
FeveredDreamer

One Tamriel is one of the most dramatic (and positive) changes I've ever seen to a running MMO.  I'm still not personally into what ESO has to offer, but the game seems so much more fun than when I initially quit.

neserbohy
neserbohy

ESO indeed. Now all I need to be happy is a "single player" checkbox in the gameplay settings - because the "Online" experience constantly ruins my "Elder Scrolls" experience. ;)

schmidtcapela
schmidtcapela

@neserbohy 

Very much this for me. What I enjoy the most in Elder Scrolls games doesn't work even in online games, much less in MMOs.


So, waiting for a fully offline Elder Scrolls VI here if I am to get back to the franchise (well, apart from running the older games, I'm quite happy with my ongoing Skyrim playthrough, but doing that doesn't provide the devs with any further revenue).

Slaphammer
Slaphammer

I played ESO shortly after launch and wasn't all that intrigued.  I pretty much forgot it existed in the time since, so this is the first I'm learning about the One Tamriel change and other stuff.  I dunno if I want to play it again, but it's on my radar at least.

tobascodagama
tobascodagama

Gotta agree with the panel here, One Tamriel was huge.

avilcins
avilcins

I voted Dofus. New user experience is much better now.

xPhenomen
xPhenomen

ESO One Tamriel update fundamentaly changed game and I would say in a better way.

ArcheAge 3.0 update is massive and brings tons of improvements.

Path of Exile also had numerous good updates but it's not MMO.

Modrain
Modrain

As someone that got so disappointed in ESO at release that I've been skipping most news about the title since then, I'm rather impressed by the general response to it. I guess I might take another look at the game.

thenewzero
thenewzero

I think I agree with ESO.  I still don't like the game personally, but most of what they added seemed like great additions.  I just can't get over how ugly the game is, and I'm not a big fan of Elder Scrolls lore so that won't draw me in.


Legion was really great for WoW, and I've really enjoyed it for the most part.  But I absolutely hate the gearing system they've been going for recently.   I miss badges, and hate all the emphasis on RNG in loot.  Most of the content feels pointless because it all seems to have such a tiny chance to give you anything worth equipping.  On the flipside, their storytelling has improved massively, and I actually enjoyed the lore this time around.

Marelius
Marelius

I voted ESO, they have come a long way and actually made a lot of us that thought the game was toast look like morons. Great game great developers, pretty darn good customer service. The customer service came a long way to what they were. 

strangesands
strangesands

I voted ESO as well, though I thought of No Man's Sky as a runner-up and was surprised not to see it on the list.  NMS seems to have turned around most of the major complaints in its patch, but the studio's radio silence ensured it wouldn't get full credit for it.  ESO has, in the meantime, quietly been adding the things that the franchise is known for

strangesands
strangesands

@schmidtcapela @strangesands Very true.  Technically multiplayer without any practical way of having it ever actually happen eliminates it.  If multiplayer ever becomes a reality, maybe it would qualify as most improved, but it certainly doesn't seem to be a high priority for the studio.

Estranged
Estranged

My personal favorite is Destiny, but I think the overall winner is ESO.  

Kanbe
Kanbe

ESO for me as well. I played beta and did not enjoy the game at all. Between one Tamirel and the dark brotherhood/thrives guild (well and the gold pack to pick it all up at once) I'm having a great time in ESO. EVE was a close 2nd.

Kalamari
Kalamari

hm, bree's choices are always the "winner". dont know if good or just abusing her power. :D

Nyphur
Nyphur moderator

@Kalamari I think this happens because our responses are all quite varied and Bree is usually the swing vote.

breetoplay
breetoplay moderator

@Nyphur @Kalamari Yeah, I vote after they do, and sometimes I'm the swing vote so that we have a winner. Note on this vote, though; ESO won before I cast my vote. We have 19 awards going out this year, and I definitely don't get them all. :D

melissaheather
melissaheather

"improved" doesn't mean they came out with a new patch or content or map.

ESO made a pretty darn big sea change in the game, it ought to win.

Scarecrowe
Scarecrowe

@melissaheather

Improved generally means that there is something we liked about the changes.  However, with ESO, I was "meh" on it before AND after.  So no improvement from my perspective.  That said, I'm glad so many other people have found it fun.  I just wish I could find something to keep my attention.

Cambruin
Cambruin

Wait, what?! Cataclysm a succes?! It's what drove so many people away from WoW. It may have had the best 'sales, but' it's also known as thé expansion responsible for the population decline. Linear questing, removal of talent trees, dumbing down every major aspect, ... If an expansion sells well, it's because the game it's supposed to expand is already doing great. An expansion's succes can only be measured once the next iteration goes live and by those standards, Cataclysm was a failure.


Regardless; I voted ESO too. One Tamriel sets a new standard for the genre, not only ESO. Allthough Rift may have taken the original steps first with it's... well, whatever they're called. Adventures? 

DrZaius
DrZaius

@Cambruin - you read that wrong.

"Considering the expansion has been as successful as Cataclysm in terms of SALES"

Coolit
Coolit

Totally agree with ESO getting this award and I hope the momentum is carried on with next year's DLC. The only real negative for me personally this year is the introduction of lockboxes, it should never have happened and did nothing to improve the game.

breetoplay
breetoplay moderator

Thursday's and Friday's awards are both brand-new to our awards series and both going to be hotly contested. Any guesses? :D

Rokhaiil
Rokhaiil

@breetoplay the worst one? Oh, no. That's easy, SWToR is the king in that catergory...

Robert80
Robert80

@BryanCo @breetoplay I'm going with Eliot.  He seems like he'd be down with the chaos.  :P

Also, MMO which resulted in the most tears for the MOP staff (I'm guessing EQ Next?)

BryanCo
BryanCo

@breetoplay  Most expensive cash shop?  Most bone-headed statement by a developer?  Best Schlag Sweetleaf image/gif?

SallyBowls1
SallyBowls1

I don't think you could disagree too much with any of TESO, WoW or EVE. I initially reacted to Justin's characterization of EVE as a major mover and shaker (although seminal and famous were locked up years ago.)  But thinking about the numbers these days, I guess that is quite arguable.

Apollymi
Apollymi

Tis the season to bah humbug, right?

I voted nothing.  I am unhappy with most of what I see in MMOs that I have loved in the past.  Legion at first looked fantastic, but they gutted my hunter and crafting.  They've reduced everything to the lowest common denominator as far as combat goes and it's just incredibly unexciting.  As I was playing along all I could think about was, I have to complete this quest line so I can get flying whenever it comes out.  Then one day I realized that's all I was doing and it wasn't fun.  

SWTOR seems to have followed suit with WoW.  It used to be my go to game.  See above, but without flying...

Haven't played Rift in forever but that's due to just never really having been that interested in the first place.

And anything that used to go by the name "SOE" whatever is a no go.  In my opinion, there's major heartbreak just around the corner from them.  I know, like we haven't been kicked enough already.  Used to be, I'd try anything that the company put out (except pvp of course) but I'm not supporting that hot mess anymore.

The rest on that list I have no interest in at all.  Either I've tried it and it's fallen flat (GW2, FFXIV, ESO) or there's some pvp focus that I wouldn't touch if they paid me (Black Desert, ArchAge).

Hopefully Santa will bring me a PS4 for Christmas and that will be that with MMOs for me for a while.

Lotsofheals
Lotsofheals

Second Life. Maybe taking stuff from Project Sansar. Just joined a GO game group and learning. :) (many good players i lose all the time :(, but learning)

ReesRacer
ReesRacer

Right. I was not going to be surprised to see ESO winning this by a healthy margin. I know it doesn't appeal to everyone, and the combat can feel a bit, er...floaty (that's the word I'm going to use). But One Tamriel has made a significant difference, especially when my primary problem is usually out-leveling the zone where I'm questing...it's the completionist in me, I suppose. Relaxing to play with a wireless 360 controller is a big bonus, as well. 


As for the cash-shop, it's pretty modest, and I have more crowns than I can spend because apart from time-limited special mounts and dyes, there's nothing else I want, and nothing necessary with a Plus membership. The game is good, and does not lack for content, certainly. The gamble-crates are bad, but because they are not dropped into my lap whilst playing, they are not intrusive (like PWE games, for example). 

Malice
Malice

Eh, well its absolutely improved in some areas but "most improved" is a pretty lofty accolade. There are a lot of things that have gotten worse in ESO this year, PVP, Proc Sets, more cash shop to name a few which are all MY OPINION. 


Im also not a fan of the one tamriel model, you can now complete the entire main story without doing any of the alliance story. It just smacks to me of dumbing it down for a casual audience. Fine, its there game but I dont consider that an improvement. when you make a choice in game you need to live with it. In eso no worries about faction, you can change your race, attributes, you can buy werewolf and vamp in the store I mean the only thing you cant buy in the store is a "class" change" so you dont have to attain more shard points. 


The good though has been the PVE offering. With the exception of IC they have done a decent job on scaling dungeons, maelstrom was good, Osinium was a fun story, thieves and DB thumbs up. So improved yes, Most Improved? Meh

crack_fox
crack_fox

Nothing. ESO might be the Most Changed, but I definitely do not consider it Most Improved

Mortam
Mortam

Well, we left ESO because of the level scaling. I dislike any kind of forced scaling. What's the point of getting new gear and levels, if you are always scaled to content. May as well play a single player RPG.

So yeah, no current game was "improved" for us this year. 

Back playing EQ2 (optional scaling).

Alien Legion
Alien Legion

I have never understood the idea of forced level scaling.  If it is optional, to enable friends who are different levels to group up, fine.

But to just install it across the board, like SWTOR, completely negates the idea of gaining levels.  If everything is always at the same level, then what is the point of keeping track of levels at all?  Correct, there is no point.

breetoplay
breetoplay moderator

@Alien Legion @breetoplay Now that I think is fair. Like an economy, it can't just be dropped in without fundamental reworks of everything it ripples outward to touch.

ReesRacer
ReesRacer

@Alien Legion Taking ESO, for example, where One Tamriel introduced the "across the board" level-scaling: As I mentioned above, I found it beneficial because I have a tendency to out-level zones (in all games). This means I've found the game more challenging. 


And it's not that these levels are non-existent. If the mobs in every zone and dungeons are all appropriately scaled, it still means I've got to keep all my gear up-to-date. I best not still be using an oak bow, when I've got the skill to make one of sanded Ruby Ash, else I'll get killed straight away. It's similar to the historical evolution in earth weapons. Once we had the knowledge of forging iron, it was not a good idea to continue using stone or even bronze. I think this sort of "leveling" is appropriate and important, and suitably represents character progression in an RPG. So...it doesn't entirely "negate" the idea of levels, although it has certainly been mitigated, in a positive way, as I see it.  

Alien Legion
Alien Legion

@breetoplay @Alien Legion I agree, I still prefer the UO style of skill progression.  However, when you build a game around leveling, and run that game for years, then suddenly revamp it mid way through it just too big of a change, to me at least.  And the ones that have done so, granted I have only played SWTOR and ESO, there are too few rewards in terms of skill progression to make up for the forced loss of level advantage.

breetoplay
breetoplay moderator

@Alien Legion You're right -- levels weren't the point. Devs have trained us over ~15 years to think levels are the point, but they weren't, aren't, and shouldn't be.

Scaling reminds us that playing was the point, not the cookie and the badge.

Robert80
Robert80

@breetoplay @Alien Legion Yeah, my personal opinion is that ESO has that as a huge flaw for Unlimited... because instead of merely ensuring people can play together you feel as though you never progressed.  That's why I like optional (it make occasionally result in a jerk running by killing everything in sight like crazy while you are questing, but at the same time you actually maintain that feeling of getting better.)

Ideally no levels to begin with, but when they are already there...