Most of this year’s PAX West content is finally finished, and while we’re about to give MOP reporter Larry Everett a much-needed breather, we’ve got one more thing left to do first: roll out some awards. Besides, we can use some positivity after the day our genre had yesterday, am I right?
|Game of the Show: Rend
Rend continues to dazzle every single writer we send to see it, whether that writer is a PvE player or a PvP player. It’s not a traditional MMORPG, but its multiplayer sandbox pedigree, thoughtful mechanics, and WildStar-esque, vibrant graphics keep it on our perpetual radar. “Once I’m finished with all the work I need to do, I’m downloading that game and playing it,” Larry said on the podcast.
|Best New MMO: Torchlight Frontiers
We had no way of knowing when we picked Larry to go to PAX West for us this year that we should have sent a Torchlight fan, but just ahead of con season, a Torchlight MMO is indeed just what PWE announced. The rest of us couldn’t be more excited to get our hands on this one; even Larry, who isn’t exactly a fan of this type of action RPG, thought it was fun, though maybe not as entertaining on a controller as with mouse and keyboard!
|Most Anticipated: Elder Scrolls Online Murkmire
Elder Scrolls Online would’ve taken this award even had we not happened to send our ESO columnist to PAX West this year. The last big DLC of the year for the massive MMORPG will offer a set of new Cyrodiil PvP mechanics and mark the franchise’s first true deep-dive into Argonian lore.
|Biggest Surprise: Bless Unleashed
Given the MMO community’s ongoing grumblings over Bless Online, we weren’t expecting much out of the Xbox One spin-off of the game, Bless Unleashed. But as it turns out, Unleashed is dramatically different from the original PC MMO – and Larry found it surprisingly solid and playable and “pretty decent.”
|Best Mobile Title: Elder Scrolls Blades
Elder Scrolls Blades isn’t an MMORPG, but it’s a tie-in for the franchise for mobile, so we’re picking it anyway. Our writer called it “super smooth” for a mobile game. “I was blown away,” Larry said. “It’s very polished. […] The controls were super intuitive; they didn’t try to make a controller out of a phone.”
|Biggest Story: Riot Games
The average gamer probably wouldn’t have even known Riot Games was at PAX West but for its decision to turn two of its developer workshops into closed events for women and non-binary designers, which caused a ruckus among the playerbase. The story wound up eclipsing all our other content over the holiday weekend.
|Best PvP: Destiny 2
While Destiny 2 isn’t a new game, Bungie used PAX to show off the Gambit PvP mode ahead of the launch of Forsaken, and it just about stole the show. “There were lines and lines of people trying to get into play that game,” Larry told us.
|Best PvE: Dauntless
Our attendee came away from his Dauntless demo rather pleased, praising the visceral group PvE combat, solid mechanics, and pretty aesthetics: “I felt powerful like I could take on anything. Bring on the next monster, Dauntless! I’m ready for you!”
|Most Adorable: MapleStory 2
Traditional MMORPG players seem to be underestimating the adorable sequel to Nexon’s original MapleStory, but the booth was jam-packed at PAX. “MapleStory 2 might be the best chibi character creator ever,” Larry told me. “[Nexon] did a great job at converting a 2-D world to a 3-D world.”
|Biggest Bummer: Anthem
Anthem has a lot of folks worried after its disconcerting PAX presentation, during which it appeared that BioWare was backing away from a lot of mechanics and design principles that have defined BioWare for a generation. “There doesn’t seem to be any agency to the player character,” Larry worries. “The player character is just kind of watching all this happen.”
And now for the poll — what was your pick for best-in-show (among the games we cover here)? Choose three!
Here’s a complete roundup of all our coverage of the convention!