Massively OP's Best of 2016 Awards: MMORPG of the Year

Massively Overpowered's end-of-the-year 2016 awards continue today with our award for MMORPG the Year, which was awarded to Final Fantasy XIV last year.

Recall that 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. So last year, we took readers' advice and opened this category up to all MMOs, provided they did something noteworthy this year. We've done the same this year, though as you'll soon see, we needn't have.

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 MMORPG of 2016 is...

BLACK DESERT

goty

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): I want to give it to SWTOR because I'm a Star Wars fan and Bioware fan. Same with Guild Wars 2, but the only real MMO that got me to invest any kind of time into them beyond reviews was Landmark. I'm terrible at building stuff, and couldn't get into Minecraft at all, but Landmark made me run to work once or twice. That's gotta mean something.

Brendan Drain (@nyphur): EVE Online. EVE Online has gone from strength to strength throughout 2016, and the recent introduction of free alpha clone accounts has brought concurrent player activity up to a level that hasn't been seen since 2014. A new fully voiced tutorial makes it far more likely for new players to stick with the game long enough to join the community, and the EVE community has done itself proud in welcoming newcomers into the fold. The forums, subreddit, and in-game chat channels are bristling with fresh faces attracted by the free to play option, and the community is being frequently praised for its help and patience. Some major corporations and alliances have even adopted new alpha clone players, giving them free ships and even bringing them along on PvP roams.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): I'm going to sound like a broken record, but The Elder Scrolls Online... 2016 belonged to ESO. You gotta remember that 2014, the year most of our staff voted for "Nothing" as the GOTY? That was the year Elder Scrolls Online came out, along with ArcheAge and WildStar. That's how far this game has come. Still, I can look up at Black Desert and be pretty darn content that it's the winner -- those two games competed for hits all year and are worthy adversaries as well as proof that sandbox gameplay is very much in demand.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): Black Desert. Unlike our resounding year of nothing, this year my problem isn't that no game deserves the nod, it's that a lot of games deserve it for doing well throughout the year, improving, staying the course and working well. Final Fantasy XIV, Black Desert Online, The Elder Scrolls Online, and Star Trek Online have all done solid, dependable work from January until now, and I think any of them would be more than worthy of earning the big nod at the end of the year. And that's with me discounting certain other titles for various reasons, like deciding that WoW spent too much time in a content lull to get the nod. So there are lots of good candidates. Ultimately, then, I'm giving the nod to the newest of a wide field. Good work, guys; sure, none of you stood head and shoulders among the rest, but that's because you all were doing really well instead of floundering.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): Black Desert. Proving that there's a massive hunger for MMO sandboxes, Black Desert took the scene by storm this spring and has enjoyed a fairly strong year. It's not been perfect, to be sure, but the visuals, housing, and future content all speak well for this game. Runner-up: World of Warcraft. Legion and the subsequent updates brought back WoW from a slippery slope slide into irrelevancy. It's actually kind of cool to play WoW again.

Larry Everett (@Shaddoe, blog): I am going to give the MMORPG of the year to a game that I thought I would never even play let alone give an award to: World of Warcraft. Legion not only tore many of my friends from the various games that I was playing at the time, but it was also interesting enough to get me -- a long-time WoW opponent -- to buy the game and expansion. I still don’t play the game on the regular, but it really changed my mind about what WoW was, and I am glad that I called the game home for a short time.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): Even though I gave it the the biggest industry blunder, I'd have to give game of the year to Black Desert. It wins not because it looks awesome (it really does) but because of the sheer volume of things you can do in it. It is the closest to a fulfilling sandbox as we've seen in quite some time -- and you don't have to wade through FFA PvP to enjoy those various sandbox features. There's housing, fishing, good combat, phenomenal character creation, and interesting crafting system, horse taming, trade running, horse breeding, and sailing on top of the usual questing. And hey, if a game can make me of all people really enjoy a melee class, you know there's some magic going on!

Tina Lauro Pollock (@purpletinabeans): I throw my vote to World of Warcraft. I wouldn’t have imagined saying that this time last year, which is indicative of how well Blizzard has handled the game and its community in 2016. A very close runner-up shoutout of course goes to my beloved Guild Wars 2 for the team’s significant work over the last number of months in matching its content delivery cadence with what is physically maintainable behind the development curtain without boring players to tears with unjustifiably long content droughts as we faced for so long. Living World Season 3 has been fantastic too!

Black Desert won our MMORPG of the Year award for 2016. What's your pick?

Reader poll: What was the best MMORPG of 2016?

  • Black Desert (17%, 251 Votes)
  • World of Warcraft (15%, 221 Votes)
  • Elder Scrolls Online (22%, 324 Votes)
  • EVE Online (3%, 41 Votes)
  • Landmark (0%, 3 Votes)
  • Final Fantasy XIV (11%, 153 Votes)
  • Guild Wars 2 (7%, 108 Votes)
  • Star Trek Online (1%, 21 Votes)
  • Star Wars The Old Republic (3%, 41 Votes)
  • Blade and Soul (1%, 10 Votes)
  • Riders of Icarus (0%, 5 Votes)
  • Skyforge (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Neverwinter (0%, 4 Votes)
  • RIFT (1%, 8 Votes)
  • ArcheAge (1%, 11 Votes)
  • TERA (0%, 6 Votes)
  • WildStar (1%, 11 Votes)
  • DC Universe Online (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Lord of the Rings Online (3%, 43 Votes)
  • The Secret World (2%, 22 Votes)
  • EverQuest II (0%, 7 Votes)
  • RuneScape (0%, 6 Votes)
  • The Division (1%, 10 Votes)
  • Destiny (0%, 7 Votes)
  • Ascent (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Path of Exile (1%, 21 Votes)
  • Tree of Savior (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Otherland (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Warframe (1%, 13 Votes)
  • Marvel Heroes (1%, 11 Votes)
  • Nothing (5%, 78 Votes)
  • Something else (tell us in the comments!) (1%, 10 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,453

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

MOP's 2016 AWARDS
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176 comments
userzero01
userzero01

1st.....seems like a BS site....NO1 likes black desert and the few that do highly suspicious, would say affiliates, but look more than that.
2nd....This is just the game RED ALERT, monetized and new graphics.
3rd.....This "New" game is on alot of sites with just different graphics all revamped for "p2p".

So, being old school and observant; Looks like some asian company has several sites of game (companies) and forums, reviews sites....all a lil different owned all by same people---or original companies selling rights to old games to revamp. I know y, cuz I know thousands of games from before C64 and on.....

Sadly gaming is nothing like it was, or evolved to be.....every1 want to do f2p=p2p and make mad money for nothing........ ppl still member when you decided which game to buy, by how heavy it was cause of instruction books. LOL

Now it seems every game is on some pay more BS, for BS content, developers, game play, etc.....and none really have a clue on how to make the f2p model to convince ppl to p2p same game without any thought, than slow them down.....like many games.

The gamers coder code was always make a game they can't stop playing, not lets figure out where to make ppl grind to get money, or other bs crap. They don't even think about that too much, they all the same setup.........Even games you buy at store, come home, wait hours to update patch, they have store, mall, etc.....Ridiculous........Sadly many only know f2p or/=p2p, so they feed the Monsters........ 






MKlwr
MKlwr

I voted for ESO.  They managed to bring forth a number of improvements this year, from Crafting Bags (which solved all of my inventory problems, they were a running joke in my guild) to the One Tamriel update (which along with the festivals brought back my inventory woes).  


The new DLCs were cool, the new dungeons were fun and the changes in itemization in One Tamriel give you a bewildering amount of choice for gear, but make obtaining it pretty straightforward.  The Witches' Festival was fun, but the New Life Festival was even better.  I really hope it's still on when I get home tonight so I can run my DK through the quests one last time.


Black Desert is good and I enjoy playing it, but it still has a very rudimentary interface, particularly in the social aspects. In a game that's so dependent on afk activity, you have no way to set yourself to "away" in your guild roster or your friends list.  The chat interface from your friends list is super clunky, and there is no way to see the normal chat window if you are interacting with an NPC.


I think PA knows that, as they have made some improvements to the Marketplace interface, the Trade NPC interface and most recently the pet menu, so I'm hopeful that these aspects will improve as the game matures.


I'm very annoyed by the fact that so many inconveniences and annoyances in the game were designed to drive you to the cash shop.  (I think that's another thing that ESO is doing well).  And their costume design and the fact that it becomes character bound once you use it is also a deterrent for me to buy them. I do enjoy the horses and crafting, the combat is fun enough and I'm finally going to work on my questing a bit more.


Oddly enough, what I enjoy the most is the fact that I can afk and minimize the game and play ESO or 7 Days to Die. :-P

Jacra
Jacra

If BDO wasn't so sexist, took care of its chat channels and put them love into expanding the non-combat gameplay (more cooking, more reason to eat, carpentry addition etc) I'd say BDO. But as it stands I'm torn between EQ2 and ESO.

Xephyr
Xephyr

Well I've only played 2 MMOs this year (GW2 and BDO) and have had fun with both, but out of the 2 I'd definitely have to hand it to GW2. The game improved a ton this year, the april patch that fixed 90% of all problems with HoT was awesome, and the living story has been really good so far. They also brought back legendaries, which I'm really happy about.

Lady Despereaux
Lady Despereaux

I voted for Final Fantasy XIV, but that's kind of the only MMO I played this year. I will say, though, that Final Fantasy XI continues to impress me; the wealth of new content for a supposedly dead game is pretty nuts.

StevenWilliams3
StevenWilliams3

Black Desert? I'm really torn about it. On one hand, BDO did what few MMO launches can do nowadays - it diversified the genre without cutting out core social and gameplay features. On the other hand, Kakao can suck a big fat chocobo. Kakao's yet another Korean import company and their actions this year have shown that they give as much of a f#$k about their userbase as Nexon NA.


To me, the theme of 2016 is giving up on the "next big thing" after, like, 200 freaking tries. Sorry, Pantheon fans. After EverQuest Next's cancellation became the straw that broke the camel's back, I have gained an appreciation for MMOs that do what they do well. ESO and FFXIV should have gotten this award for releasing frequent high-quality content, delivering on its developers' promises, and having open communication and appreciation with its fans.

rottenrotny
rottenrotny

Of course my vote goes to WoW. Nothing really even comes close.

BDO? Hmm, it's OK at best in my book. Very pretty, but the combat is awful.

Oleg Chebeneev
Oleg Chebeneev

Wow managed to impress in 2016 with Legion expansion so I vote for it. If Star Citizen was on the list Id vote for it. BDO is just a pretty package and grind nothing else

Lord Zorvan
Lord Zorvan

We need a "Best of 2016 Karl_Hungus Memes" poll.

Modrain
Modrain

Uh. That one got me by surprise. I expected to see ESO, FFXIV or WoW. But clearly not BDO. I'd given more chances to ArcheAge than BDO. 

Well, on one hand I'm positively surprised, as its not the kind of game I thought a majority of writers would vote for, but on the other hand, I can't help but think that if we exclude all the business/management/stability issues (yeah, that's a lot to ignore), ArcheAge is a superior sandbox to BDO.

So, somehow, I'm now a bit more upset at how ArcheAge's potential got destroyed.

devin007
devin007

BDO got super stale super quick. PVE is just boring grind and it's hard to be competitive in pvp unless you can stay on top of the gear treadmill. There isnt really a cap that everyone hits to stay on the same gear tier like other games. You continue to plus your armor which has a rng and time sink element attached which for me equals grind.

Really surprised it won I have to say I disagree I think ESO had an amazing year with One

Tamreil. I wish there was less irrational fapping over sandboxes on this site. Most sandboxes get a license to have crappy questing and get away with it because they are crafting and farming simulators. If I'm not into farm simulator then there actually ends up being a lot less to do in bdo that's actually compelling and interesting then a traditional MMO.

I wonder if BDO just pays for the biggest banners on the site really can't figure out why they picked it.

CistaCista
CistaCista

 This award loses all meaning when it is just a fanboi contest between WoW and other games that have been around the block and back. Of course BDO is game of the year, even though I don't play it and loathe many aspects of it :)

Cambruin
Cambruin

Voted ESO, I absolutely love it. 


But I should probably also admit to doing something I thought I'd never do; reinstalling WoW. I was so ... I can't even find a word to adequately describe my level of frustration and disappointment with Cataclysm. I was shattered, enraged by the treatment given to my precious Frost DK Tank by removing talent trees and skills alike under the guise of 'bloat removal'. Yeah right! And what with that linear questing?!


But anyhow, here I am... reinstalling... 4 or so years later.

mysecretid
mysecretid

@Cambruin 

I find that, every time I say "I will never do thing X again. Ever!", That seems to be precisely the thing I end up doing again, later, down the line, so I feel your pain. :-)


Here, let's test the theory, shall we?


"I shall never again get into a happy relationship with a beautiful woman who loves me, and wants my body regularly"


(I'll let you know how it turns out :-D)


Cheers,

Koshelkin
Koshelkin

Yeah, good call. It was the only MMO I'd vote for. Everything else I played is a bit older and thus, imo, shouldn't get an award for still being great in 2016. All in all we have alot of decent titles doing nicely for themselves so yeah; not much innovation the MMO-Sphere but plenty of options for everyone.

thenewzero
thenewzero

I voted for ESO, even though I still don't personally like it (and probably never will).  Between being one of the most improved MMOs this year, and the fact that I always hear people talking about how much they love it, it was probably the strongest this year.


WoW definitely came close.  Legion has been a great expansion for the most part.  I'm not in love with the current endgame, but I think the leveling experience from 100-110 was actually pretty good, and normally I absolutely hate leveling in MMOs.


FFXIV is still probably my personal favorite, but this was sort of just a "stable" year for them.  Not much hugely stands out for me, but the game is still really good.  I think next year will be huge for them though.

dwhisper
dwhisper

Wait, best game, or best terrible business model?

dragonwhimsy
dragonwhimsy

I think ESO for sure. It took a couple of years to get where it is now, but it was THIS year where it really took it's place among the top tier MMO's and it looks like it's there to stay now. BDO did really well for itself too, but it relied on content it had already developed for eastern audiences which leaves one uncertain what happens when that finally dries up. ESO's place just seems more sustainable at the moment, especially since it's found an audience on two consoles.


Other nods go to WoW for Legion which made WoW somewhat relevant again in the modern era (plus a theatrical movie!) and GW2 for it's excellent Living World Season 3 and for finding the right content cadence that supports all of their game modes, plus major improvements to sPvP. These two games could have won if they hadn't had a lack luster first seven months of the year (WoW had nothing at all and GW2 spent it on fixing HoT's and raiding).

Loopstah
Loopstah

I've given BDO 4 attempts before finally calling it quits. I just cannot stick with it. As great and rich as the game may be, the way systems are introduced (or lack thereof), gender-locked classes, and the storyline delivery (/shudder) simply repulses me too much. I seriously envy people who managed to stick with it - from what i hear the game has a crap ton of stuff to do and appears to be super fun and deep in terms of its sandbox elements. Unfortunately it couldn't hook me.

So my vote would be split between ESO and FFXIV. Any time that i feel like i'm bored of my current game, it always comes to a toss up between which one of these two i am reactivating. To me, that speaks volumes about the quality of both games and their ability to consistently appeal to me over the years.

mysecretid
mysecretid

I had to give it to Elder Scrolls Online, and as I often mention here, I'm not even a "fantasy first" sort of gamer.


The game launched meh-ish, and it's come so far since then. I'm actually interested to see what they might do next.


Black Desert is good for what it is, but it's a very specific style of MMORPG game -- ESO may be a little broader-based in its appeal.


My opinions, at least,

BrettFerguson
BrettFerguson

ESO hands down for me.

As I approach 40 years old it has been a long time since an MMO has me excited to log in and actually have fun, rather than grind. The first was EQ back in 1999 and the last was probably EQ2 although I've played too many others to count/list.

The game is now what it should have been at launch. There is so much to do but I'm not feeling the pressure to rush through it like I used to. After 2 years I'm just wrapping up the 3rd factions story line, done plenty of dungeons, some RvR, DLC, completed the holiday events....but haven't touched trials yet. Add to that the game is beautiful still!

ESO reddit just hit 90k subs and is growing at a healthy rate, as is the in game population, helped by 1T.

If you haven't checked it out in a while I think you owe it to yourself to do so!

Volsfan
Volsfan

This is way off topic but I see a lot of people voted ESO. My wife got me an Xbox one for Christmas. How is ESO on the Xbox?

Loopstah
Loopstah

@Volsfan Seeing that main complaints about the game is how "console-esque" it feels, i would like to predict that it plays fairly well. 

DigitalQ
DigitalQ

@Volsfan Plays great on consoles.The graphics are just turned down is all.

Dope_Danny
Dope_Danny

Not for the first poll this year i am AMAZED anyone voted for Rift. 

Orenj
Orenj

@Dope_Danny Really!  And *FIVE* of them?  The game doesn't even have five devs working on it anymore, so who is gaming the vote?!

-- super disgruntled former RIFT fangirl

zandog
zandog

Had Grand Theft Auto 5 been listed as an MMORPG, I would have picked it. Love BDO graphics, realm and combat. Staying involved with it became difficult as it is, for lack of a better word, grindy. Ended up back in GW2 where I can have things to do fed to me.

Hurbster
Hurbster

Could not get on with Black Desert, so my vote goes to ESO. Pure quality that just got better as the year went on.

TBPlayer2112
TBPlayer2112

Had to vote ESO, (again), on this one. It's not perfect nor will any game ever be, but Zenimax did a lot of the right things this year. Pumping out quality DLC while revamping and adding systems to really flesh out the game. It's the MMO I'm playing most often and anticipate the most for what's in store for it.

ashfyn
ashfyn

@TBPlayer2112 

ESO for me as well.  Zenimax has built on all of the IP's strengths and the original ESO concept, while making an effort to minimize what players did not like about the game at launch.  

Kudos to them  

Estranged
Estranged

I'm doing a troll Destiny vote, like always.

Being a SWTOR fanboi, I'm just disgusted.

TSW is probably my favorite MMO, but the updates are coming slow.

Even hough I rarely play, can't see how it can be anything other than FFXIV. They churn out content at an incredible rate.

FFXIV until another sub game can keep up with them.

Estranged
Estranged

After reading. GTAO and The Division are tremendous games. GTAO is particularly ground-breaking.

Noble_Einherjar
Noble_Einherjar

I do think BDO deserves the win. Yet I can't bring myself to vote for it. It's like the game has all of the sandbox elements I crave in an MMO, but I have to put up with the worst aspects of Korean MMOs if I want to play it. The game has tremendous freedom, but it also restricts itself in a lot of ways.

ashfyn
ashfyn

@Noble_Einherjar 

I played their free week for about 2 hours and decided that the downside was not worth the upside.  But I don't PvP any more, so there's that.  

At the moment, I think they are FotM.  ESO and GW2, for me as a gamer, are much more enjoyable without a lot of the silly baggage that are auto developed in games from Asia.    

ammalis
ammalis

I have to vote on BDO. Had great fun for over 3 month.  Didn't spend more time this year with any other game (probably except Diablo and Pokemon Ruby).

Got hurt. Lost interest. I still think it was a great game. Just not for me.

melissaheather
melissaheather

@ammalis 'getting hurt' is what led me to leave ArcheAge.  BDO suited me a little better with the lvl 45 barrier to PvP.  But I never wanted it.

KingoZZie
KingoZZie

@ammalis Pretty much my thoughts. The RNG gearing and upgrading was just a dealbreaker for me, but I still liked the game.

Sargonnax
Sargonnax

I'm voting nothing.


Wow: Legion is pretty good, but Blizzard still needs to prove they won't fall into the same pattern as the previous expansion. They are a massive studio with enormous resources, but suck at putting out new content. 


I played BDO for a while. Overall I liked it because it's a bit unique in its own way, but it still didn't hold my interest long term.


I see great things being said about ESO, but I don't have enough free time in the day to pick up an9ther mmo.


As a few others have said, BDO being picked as the game of the year kind of tells you how mediocre the year was for memos. It's not at all a bad game, but my first reaction was there has to be something better out there. Then I thought about it and realized there probably isn't. BDO isn't game of the year because it's so amazing as much as the mmo genre in general isn't so impressive this year.

ManastuUtakata
ManastuUtakata

Either way though, least I play the game that came in second place. I can't all be wrong. :)

Kharl
Kharl

Most of the games just seem to be more of the same, nothing really innovative this year.  Eve Online edged it a bit by adding the Alpha clones, and the new tutorial, showing that they are evolving and trying to grow their playerbase.  For that I think they get my vote for becoming better.  I think there is no best this year.

CensoredOtaku
CensoredOtaku

ESO is doing very well right now.  And keeping my attention longer than most.  From what I heard Black Desert is a cluster right now so I must be suspect that there may be some possible bias there on the voter's part (unlimited cash shop maybe?).

Mylicia
Mylicia

I voted for ESO because I'm really enjoying myself and tons of other folks seem to be as well. It's nice that the devs have listened to feedback and taken steps to turn the game into something the fans wanted from the start. (apart from the nasty lockbox business unfortunately) 


And I think I may be the only person on the site who hasn't tried BDO, so I can't form an opinion on it.

JzJad
JzJad

Oh God not eso

crack_fox
crack_fox

I think this has been ESO's year. I'm not a fan of all of the changes that ZOS has made, but the game's population seems to have exploded since OT so they must be doing something right. It gets my vote.

BDO is a worthy winner. The game is an impressive technical achievement on many levels. I expect I'll have another crack at it if I ever get round to upgrading my antiquated gpu. 

nosz
nosz

BDO won with its malware?

m'kay...

melissaheather
melissaheather

congratulations from in-game :D 

haven't tried BDO?  maybe this is the weekend  :)