Perfect Ten: The best MMO updates and expansions of 2018

    
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Kerstab.

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.)

Grotesque.

1. The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset

I mean, you knew this would be there, right? Let’s be real here, The Elder Scrolls Online has done a good job with this one, right down to winning an award for it. From us!

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.

This is the world we live in.

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!

Yes, I realize this is GW2. It's still a familiar sight, you'll get it.

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!

gotta go to space

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.

Fortunate

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.

just keeps rollin'

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.

deep down

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.

Primary!

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.

SWEAR TO ME

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!

I don't know why Blizzard gave us the reaction image for this.

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.

Twist and shout.

Honorable mentions

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.

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten takes an MMO topic and divvies it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. Got a good idea for a list? Email us at justin@massivelyop.com or eliot@massivelyop.com with the subject line “Perfect Ten.”
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Viktor Budusov

Yeah, Lotro U22 was beatiful though U23 has much more meat.

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PhoenixDfire

I’d suggest the latest Chapter 4 update for Elite : Dangerous. It added the new exploration mechanics which has added much needed depth and ease of access to find interesting phenomenon which was always in the game but near impossible to find.

And it’s done the impossible (IMHO); it made mining interesting, fun and explosive! ;-)

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Ashfyn Ninegold

It’s a sad commentary on the state of the MMO genre that PoE’s Betrayal is the most staying-up-all-night-to-play fun I’ve had in a long time.

Hopefully 2019 will be a better year in every regard.

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Anton Mochalin

What in Fortuna update makes Warframe more an MMO? Bigger map? Well then Just Cause 3 is almost an MMO, right?

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Oleg Chebeneev

BfA should be #1

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Bruno Brito

Ok, i’m laughing.

hurbster
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hurbster

Jesus, BFA ?

lol, good trolling, had me going there for a bit.

It is a troll right ?

Right ?

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Bruno Brito

Her argument was that this doesn’t change the fact that it sold a huge number of copies

Perfect Ten: The best MMO updates and expansions of 2018

Perfect Ten: The best MMO updates and expansions of 2018

BEST

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

This particular list is meant to sum up the best and biggest and brightest updates of the year. It’s not meant to be Eliot’s 10 favorite updates, which would probably all be FFXIV patches, nor is it meant to be my 10 favorite updates, seven of which would all be updates to a dead game emu. I myself stopped playing WoW after Draenor and have not gone back, and I don’t think BFA is the future of the genre. However, millions of people did buy and like it – more people than bought and liked all the others combined – so yes, that is relevant and influential. It’s one thing to snub WoW in the awards (and we pretty much did), but the idea of leaving a WoW expansion off a top 10 list is wild. And yes, that probably is a sad commentary on the quality of the genre, but here we are.

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Raisin

But the truth is millions of people bought it. That is the only figure that is public knowledge. You are guessing that of those millions by far most are happy. We don’t have real subscription numbers, we don’t have any real insight outside of bfa selling more than others.

But that can have NOTHING to do with bfa itself, and everything to do with Legion, Blizzard itself, etc. That is to say, if you wanted a best selling list, make one. I’m not sure what you mean by “biggest”, but since it wasn’t in the article, either, I’m not really sure that’s a good point. And if it was included, you would still need to state your case clearly. Is big a reference to size of the update? Amount of content? Player retention?

Best means one thing: quality. Best updates and expansions means highest quality updates and expansions. That is why people are confused: to most, it is bad. The conversation within the WoW community (if you could call it that) seems to be whether it’s the worst expansion yet or just 2nd to worst.

And yeah, 2018 was a bad year for the genre. But you guys could have looked into the milieu of smaller games succeeding right now and found a number of great updates. There were even a handful of games that have been reversing negative and fiscally abusive game and store mechanics for the better. They may not have the same reach and audience as WoW or WoW articles, but their inclusions would have made the list feel more heartfelt and well researched.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

WoW was not the only thing on the list. There were 14 other game updates mentioned, some of them quite small, and others that received nods of their own during awards season.

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Bruno Brito

WoW for sure had one of the biggest xpacs in 2018. I won’t deny that. But BEST? C’mon. Financial figures aren’t really something to use as a metric for quality, SPECIALLY when we know Blizzard makes most of it’s money from box sales. Those are rarely asked for refunds.

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Oleg Chebeneev

>to most, it is bad

“most” been calling bad every single WoW expansion.
Blablabla Cata is the worst
Blablabla MoP is the worst.
Blablabla WoD is the worst.
Blablabla BfA is the worst.

Every. Single. Time.
I dont even know what Blizzard has to do to satisfy the whining crowds.

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Bruno Brito

Christ dude, enough. It IS bad. Look at how Blizzard is right now.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Oleg, for once I agree with you. Every single expansion is given ridiculous praise before it launches and for three days afterwards. Then it magically morphs into the worst expansion, ever.

While this is true, it is also true that BfA emits a giant sucking sound, even at a distance.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Have to agree that Legion was responsible for most of BfA’s sales.

It’s a sloppy expansion with a limited amount of fun to be had. I wouldn’t put it on this list, either. As best I can tell, those who like BfA are fans of the raids, which I guess if you’re a raider makes the rest of this tedious expansion all good. Since only about 10% of MMO players raid, that leaves about 90% with various levels of unhappiness.

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Bruno Brito

That’s the point. I’m not even arguing that BfA is the worst xpac ever. I’m arguing that using sales as a metric isn’t a good way of gauging player experience.

If we go by that logic, then any game that sold a lot are the best games of the year, when we know there are hidden gems everywhere, and that the mainstream gaming industry is right now in a terrible place.

Why does WoW deserves a spot in any list in 2018 for being WoW? We all agree that the Blizzard team is detached. We all agree that Blizzard is responsible for their lack of results themselves, and you can see in every Q&A with Ion that they are completely complacent to the state of their game, giving answers like “you have to deal with the bad results of experimental mechanics” or something like that, when they’re the developers and could change that.

Are we REALLY rewarding mediocrity now? Because that metric is how corporate does things, not us.

Here’s my reason why BfA is in that list: This year sucked. Everything was mediocre. There were some good things, but not enough to fill a top ten.

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Oleg Chebeneev

>We all agree that the Blizzard team is detached. We all agree that

We all means who? You and your uncle Bob? Since me and millions of players who enjoyed BfA obviously disagree with everything you wrote.

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Bruno Brito

millions of players

Show me the millions agreeing.

So, you can make baseless generalizations, but i can’t?

You’re Oleg all right. Can’t like something without pretending it has no flaws and weaknesses.

You also have a penchant to like cashgrabs. Ascension, SC and BfA all reek of moneymaking. To CR’s defense, i actually believe he intends to deliver that game someday, he just realized he can make more money as long as you suckers keep getting tangled in a monetized alpha.

But Blizzard? Haha, i’m sure millions are enjoying it and thinking it’s the best think the MMO industry must have. This must be why Activision is running the show and why Blizz had nothing to show them but fail in their stocks.

My uncle Bob didn’t announce Immortals. He has more street cred than you or Blizz will ever have.

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Raisin

This list feels almost completely out of touch with players, which I guess makes sense given 2018 for mmo’s. With no major, successful releases, people kinda silo’d off into titles that may be viewed as more niche.

I think minus a few trainwrecks, everyone probably feels some update to their game was better than update x on game y.

Then again, yall included beta for azeroth. Most of my friends arent gamers so much as blizzard junkies. Been like that since Warcraft 3. For the first time since beta, I have 0 friends with an active sub. No unifying factor for leaving…except the root cause was always bfa. One guy left because his guild fell apart when people started leaving in drones. Another because he said his mage felt like he was perma on a lvl 20 in terms of kit.

Anyway, I really hope this isn’t indicative of a larger trend at mop. This place has been an amazing haven for real discussion.

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Mick the Barbarian

Battle for Azeroth does not belong here. It is the absolute worst of all expansions. Regardless of the money it made, the controversy, unrest and lazy writing cannot be forgiven.

I’ve been a fan of all things WoW but after 4 months of this expansion, I’ve finally unsubbed. Adding this to the list of best expansions shows how badly you had to scrape the bottom of the barrel.

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Nordavind

Trade update in PGO maybe? Or PvP update? More massive than many of those games combined.

Yes, this was a snarky reply (: