A not-inconsequential part of me misses the days when every MMO would pump out boxed expansions. I like buying boxes of stuff I like to enhance the other stuff I already like. I also like pointedly not buying boxes of stuff I don’t like, leaving them sitting on the shelf when I went to the game store, sometimes even waving in front of them as I brought a different game up to the counter.
You know, as an example to them. It made me giggle.
Of course, the lack of more cardboard boxes for me to throw away later doesn’t change the fact that we still get plenty of updates for MMOs, and a lot of them are expansion-scale. So let’s run down the best of the year, informed by purely subjective experience, some of our staff opinions, and vicious arguments in what the Massively Overpowered staff has affectionately dubbed the Circle of Blood. (It’s actually more of a rhombus.)
1. The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset
This is also the sort of expansion that particularly appeals to me as presumably not the target audience. As I’ve said elsewhere, the overall Elder Scrolls series hits me cold; I find myself thus uninterested in “going back” to existing locations, but I like when the game breaks out of that comfort zone and goes someplace heretofore unseen. So that’s an added benefit.
2. Black Desert Online’s Drieghan
New areas in Black Desert Online tend to be pretty darn big, and this year’s large addition is no exception. Actually, I’m still impressed by the scale of the regions the game adds on a regular basis; it’s one of those things that would almost push me back toward the game if there weren’t other things that keep me away. But at least there’s plenty of space to explore and fight for those who are playing!
3. Guild Wars’ quality-of-life patches
You can tell that I’m a Final Fantasy XI fan because I look at patches for a game in maintenance mode and find myself saying “what’s so special about that?” But classic Guild Wars did good this year by really improving itself and making the original game better across the board, and that’s something I’m always in favor of. Sure, it might not be new content, but I feel you can’t fail to nod at something making the classic game more accessible. And it wasn’t even planned!
4. Star Trek Online: Age of Discovery
It can be tricky for Star Trek Online to navigate the inclusion of elements from the game’s newest series which is also taking place well before the game’s timeline. Considering the positive reception of the series in question, though, it’d be insane not to include it in the game in some capacity. And here it is!
You can argue about how ambitious the update is, of course; there’s definitely a sense of consistency with these sorts of large-scale patches to STO. But that isn’t inherently a bad thing, as I’ve argued elsewhere.
5. Warframe’s Fortuna
Everyone here is biased in favor of Warframe these days. But that’s because Warframe keeps rolling out big updates that turn the title into more of an MMO at a high level of quality, which means that it’s hard not to be a fan. Fortuna is good soup just from the concept level.
The fact that it also seems to be fun to play and well-received by players? That’s just sweet, sweet gravy.
6. Guild Wars 2’s Season 4
The funny thing is that in my mind, this season of Guild Wars 2’s ongoing story didn’t happen. I don’t mean that I think it was bad or irrelevant; I mean that somehow it keeps slipping my mind over and over that this year featured regular and good updates to the game’s storyline. I was here when it happened! Yet it keeps falling out of my memory.
However, it doesn’t fall our of the memory of people who are playing the game, and lucky for me, I work with several of those people. They were also happy with the season as a whole, and since I apparently have no memory of these events, I’ll trust their opinions.
7. EVE Online: Into the Abyss
Endless dungeons are cool. EVE Online’s Abyssal Deadspace was cool enough to inspire a whole additional Perfect Ten on the matter, even. And it all started right here, followed by a quick update to expand this feature after it became clear that people loved it. Good on you, EVE Online! It might seem a little odd to have a major patch in this game devoted to a PvE feature, but it sure works.
8. RIFT Prime
This one is sort of a silly entry. On the one hand, RIFT’s Prime server is not an update. It’s almost an anti-update. But it sure was a major coup for the game and got a lot of people back into it and interested in the title, which is a great thing. And it’s new, so it gets the nod.
This really was the year of the progression server and the throwback server, honestly. When it landed well, it really landed.
9. Lord of the Rings Online’s Update 22
Though I blanked on GW2, I definitely remember Lord of the Rings Online updating a bunch. It’s not my game, though, and thus I place my faith in Justin to evaluate what its best update was. He favored update 22 thanks to its music and paying attention to iconic areas like Mirkwood and the Lonely Mountain. There you have it!
10. World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth
This one comes under a great deal of protest and back-and-forth between Bree and me. My argument was that this is not a good expansion by any stretch of the imagination, that it’s delivered a whole lot of player unrest and has generally shown a high degree of creative bankruptcy. Her argument was that this doesn’t change the fact that it sold a huge number of copies and made Blizzard a great deal of money and obviously belongs on any list of 2018’s major updates.
After confirming that I could not change my byline to Alan Smithee for a portion of the article, we reached the compromise with placing it here.
As I believe I’ve mentioned multiple times, I’m generally not a fan of honorable mentions because the whole idea of having a list with a fixed number of entries is that something not on that list winds up not being on the list. That having been said, there were lots of other great updates this year. DC Universe Online’s Atlantis, Trove’s Heroes update, Final Fantasy XIV’s consistent patches, Path of Exile’s magnificent slew of major patches, Final Fantasy XI’s consistent year of patches despite being in maintenance mode just like last year…
In short, there were a lot of things that could have taken that tenth spot. Just saying.