The Daily Grind: Which MMORPG has the best graphical appeal as of 2018?

    
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We don’t give out a formal end-of-the-year award for MMO graphics at Massively OP. It’d be almost impossible to come to a consensus. As we wrote a few years back, “Where some people aren’t satisfied until games are hyperrealistic, others require fanciful and dreamlike artistic rendering and still others can look at a cutesy retro game and squee. Some people juggle geese.”

I fully admit I juggle geese; I’ve been happily playing a classic MMO for many months now, and while it holds up OK with mods, it’s not winning any beauty contests in 2018. However, I can still look at games like Black Desert, which saw a major graphics upgrade this year, and give it a hearty salute for pushing the envelope in a genre that doesn’t often put bleeding edge graphics first.

If you were going to give out an award for best visual appeal in an MMORPG, new or old, as long as it’s live, which game would walk home with the prize?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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Ken from Chicago

Of completed / launched mmos:

BLACK DESERT ONLINE:

I mean just look at the ads on either side of the webpage.

Of mmos still in development:

STAR CITIZEN:

Yes, it’s taking … a minute … in development, but one thing it’s had going for it is looks. Even the original kickstarter trailer looks pretty sweet from 2012:

And that’s only gotten better over (surprisingly longer than expected) time

2016

2017

2018

But don’t take CIG’s word for, see what players have seen, shades of BLADERUNNER, TOP GUN and … SPACE ODDITY (I kid you not):

And I’d also like to cite a dark horse:

CITY OF TITANS

Yeah, VALIANCE ONLINE had a lot of progress up until early this year, and SHIP OF HEROES came out of nowhere is a great twist on the CITY OF HEROES “spiritual successor” with their superheroes in space on a space ship, but the original successor has been slogging along with volunteers working away and have had some visible progress to show for it this year, including a CharGen (Character Generator) at the New York ComiCon a few months ago.

For all the graphical splendor of STAR CITIZEN, it has one weakness in its graphics: Characters are limited to one size, one height, one shape. You can’t be too fat, too skinny, too tall, too short. Also, the female characters are all slated to be slightly shorter than male characters. The entire game is built around UIs and controls and animations been made from characters being the same height, for at least the forseeable future.

CITY OF TITANS’s motto of the last few months has been “Make Anyone”. It makes sense since it’s inspired by CITY OF HEROES and its legendary character generator that was so good that players WILLINGLY spent hours, lovingly crafting individual characters. COT’s CharGen had to make flexibility in character design and customization one its top priorities. See for yourself:

cot make anyone 00.jpg
Gnomeland Security
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Gnomeland Security

In regards to the FOIP….I’ve got a C920 and literally everything I’ve read and done doesn’t get that shit working sooo. I also wish they’d get NPCs working more smoothly instead of just glitching back and forth or literally spawning and just sitting there.

Veldan
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Veldan

BDO, but only as long as you don’t move…

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Baemir

Bless IMO. I love the southern european setting with gothic architecture and the warm color palette.

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Purewitz

SWTOR. Nuff said.

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Fervor Bliss

BDO

Alyn
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Alyn

For “eyecandy” BDO. For immersion into a world of the past on a world far, far away, ESO.

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ichi sakari

best.vaporware.ever

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Loopy

For animations, FFXIV is up there with the big ones. The character movements, the spell casts, everything is animated extremely well. However i’m not too fond of their textures.

For lighting, ESO is one of my favourites. The way the light bounces off moist walls in claustrophobic dungeons, or how spells effects travel across the ground – there was obviously a lot of work put in into lighting. Some of my favourite vista screenshots are from ESO.

BDO seems to have it all though, aside from the annoying pop-ins. One of the most visually stunning MMOs on the market right now.

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Mr.McSleaz

ESO

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Greaterdivinity

BDO wins in terms of raw graphical fidelity still, the game is bloody gorgeous and they continue to improve the visuals over time. Even if you’re increasingly needing a quantum computer to actually get playable framerates with the top-line settings.

However I’ll still throw a nice shoutout to GW2. It’s not the most graphically stunning but it’s clean and looks sharp and they’ve done fantastic work with their art style/direction to really make the lower fidelity assets/lack of some graphical goodies not hamper the game looking incredible.

Damnit, I need to get around to actually getting into BDO one of these days. Stupid backlog and other MMO’s always eating all my time >.<

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kvlt_vonnegut

Hard agree on this. BDO is eye-poppingly gorgeous, enough so that the temptation to drop a few hundred $$ to make a real go of it is there. And GW2’s art direction is nigh-impeccable. These days you hear the engine groaning more often than you once did but it’s still a beautifully realized world.

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Natalyia

BDO is an odd duck. If you’re the sort of player that will forever be annoyed that you don’t have “Best In Slot” gear, then BDO may drive you to an early grave. If you’re into high-end PvP, then, too, it may drive you crazy. Or if you “have to” grind out XP as fast-as-possible in the “best” spots, defending “your” spot from all comers.

If you just want to play the PvE side of the game, and enjoy the crazy-big beautiful world they’ve made, then you don’t have to spend hundreds of bucks. Tens, probably – a couple pets makes a real difference in QoL playing the game, and while they hand them out occasionally during events, that could take some time.

Some of the classes’ in-game armor looks I actually prefer to the outfits, although I generally find that I end up liking one enough to spring for it.

But that’s about it. All the other stuff you can spend to speed up gearing, or look better, or grind longer without a break, etc. But if your goal isn’t “Best In Slot” stuff – then that’s all pretty much moot. The in-game events and login/quest rewards give you ample resources to gear up over time.

But if it’s going to eat at you that you don’t have the absolute best gear, BDO’s enhancement system will give you ulcers.