Welcome one and all to Massively Overpowered’s end-of-the-year 2019 awards!
Every year, we poll our writers on the best and worst MMOs, stories, studios, and trends and assign awards to the winners (or losers, as the case may be). For the last five years, we’ve been splitting our awards into smaller categories, and we’ll be doing that again this round. We’re also sticking with our staff decision-making format, by which we attempt to reach a consensus pick (or two) for each award, but we’ll also continue providing our writers’ personal nominations too. And we’re still including a just-for-fun reader’s poll at the end to see whether you agree with our picks or think we should have gone in a different direction! We’ll be putting up one of these formal awards every day for the next couple of weeks, culminating with GOTY as always!
Today’s award is for the Most Underrated MMORPG of the year, which was awarded to Lord of the Rings Online & MapleStory 2 last year. Once again, we’ve opted to include pre-2019 MMOs for many of these awards, including this one, as long as they accomplished something truly notable in this calendar year.
And the MassivelyOP staff pick for the Most Underrated MMORPG of 2019 is…
LORD OF THE RINGS ONLINE
Andrew Ross: Project Gorgon.
Andy McAdams: Trove, Gorgon, Albion. I dunno, I kinda feel like LOTRO is rated appropriately for me – not under-rated. It was never a game that really grabbed me despite multiple attempts to get into it. But if the Massively Collective has spoken here, who am I to disagree? I travel the world and the seven seas… everybody’s looking for something… underrated ;-)
Ben Griggs: I can find plenty of things to pick on in LOTRO. The systems are outdated, as are the graphics and tech. But at the heart of this game is a vast, diverse world, some excellent storytelling, and a friendly and dedicated community. These days, the game feels like a labor of love for Standing Stone Games, but a labor that is well worth the effort.
Brendan Drain: I’m going with RuneScape again this year, and for good reason. RuneScape’s big thing back in the early 2000’s when it launched and the MMO space was sparsely populated was that it was highly accessible, running on Java in any web browser on very low-power machines. Today’s equivalent in terms of accessibility is the mobile phone, and this is the year that RuneScape took off on mobile. Old School RuneScape Mobile launched in October of last year and has been iterated on throughout 2019, while the modern RuneScape Mobile version entered Early Access this year. I think these games are examples of how to do mobile MMOs right, linking into the full game and playing on the same servers as the PC folk but just adapting the interface for mobile users.
Brianna Royce: I had a lot of nominations for Underrated this year. Black Desert, it seems to me, is consistently underrated and even left out of the top four or five games in spite of pumping out content and making gobs of money. RuneScape is in the same situation. Neverwinter and Star Trek Online seldom get their due either. But I can concede that Lord of the Rings Online is still a great MMORPG that a lot of folks are sleeping on.
Carlo Lacsina: Kritika Reboot, Lord of The Rings Online. I played a little bit of LOTRO earlier this year and I just couldn’t get into it. I’m all about graphics, and this game is not a very pretty game. The gameplay is solid, there’s so much content, and to top it all off, it doesn’t use the movies as a crutch for its design. While the game isn’t for me, there’s a clear audience for it, and I highly recommend this game for those who value gameplay over graphics.
Chris Neal: LOTRO. Long in the tooth but strong in the genre. I feel like this one always is one step away from doom but manages to keep on keeping on and soldier forward in spite of faults and odds. Which seems kind of fitting considering the IP, no?
Colin Henry: LOTRO. I was unsure what to nominate for this one at first. Then I saw someone nominate LOTRO and I thought of course. I’ve seen a lot of naysayers scoffing at this game, saying it’s dead and going to shut down any day now, but it just keeps on cranking out quality expansions and updates, and people keep showing up to play them. It is by no means a perfect game — legendary items, anyone? — but if you want a game with a great community and a whole lot of stuff to do, don’t overlook this one.
Eliot Lefebvre: Star Trek Online. As much as I think our ultimate winner deserved it, I’ve written before about how good Star Trek Online is, and I think it gets overlooked a bit because of either its subject matter or its (legitimately) maligned business model. But the game is a whole heck of a lot of fun and I love it for many reason, not the least of which being that it has a version of starship combat that is both fun and not just a ripoff of WWII dogfights. (It’s more of a ripoff of antique naval combat! So there.)
Justin Olivetti: There are a few that I like to single out for different reasons: LOTRO for its excellent world-building and community, Dungeons and Dragons Online for an MMO that is totally unlike anything else, Neverwinter and Star Trek Online for Cryptic’s patented brand of guilty pleasure gaming, and Villagers and Heroes for steadily pumping out content while finagling cross-platform play.
Mia DeSanzo: Neverwinter, DDO, STO, Trove. People forget that Neverwinter even exists, and that’s a shame. There’s a real game there.
MJ Guthrie: AQ3D, LOTRO. When I say AdventureQuest 3D, what do you think? I have watched it be dismissed as just a kids game because of the graphics. It is not. Kids wouldn’t get much of the humor. Yes it is a game the younger generations can play or watch because Artix Entertainment keeps it family friendly, but that does not mean there aren’t nuances that adults will appreciate or that it’s filled with only soft and fluffy circumstances with rainbow and unicorns. There are unicorns — they just try to disembowel you with their horn! The puns and pop culture reference nuggets are a blast to find, and there is plenty of betrayal and death. Also a lord of the underworld. The game has weekly updates, unique events, keeps in close touch with its players, and has a good community. I wish more folks would take a look at it! AQ3D steals the crown from LOTRO for me because at least that game gets noticed by Lord of the Rings fans!
Samon Kashani: Albion Online.
Tyler Edwards: Aion, Kritika Reboot, RuneScape.
Lord of the Rings Online took our award for Most Underrated MMORPG of 2019. What’s your pick?
Reader poll: What was the most underrated MMO of 2019?
- Lord of the Rings Online (23%, 439 Votes)
- Black Desert (4%, 75 Votes)
- Albion Online (3%, 50 Votes)
- RuneScape (3%, 57 Votes)
- Neverwinter (3%, 55 Votes)
- Star Trek Online (3%, 62 Votes)
- Dungeons and Dragons Online (17%, 323 Votes)
- Trove (1%, 15 Votes)
- Project Gorgon (4%, 74 Votes)
- Kritika Reboot (0%, 4 Votes)
- Villagers and Heroes (1%, 25 Votes)
- Aion (0%, 7 Votes)
- AdventureQuest 3D (2%, 35 Votes)
- MapleStory 2 (1%, 13 Votes)
- EVE Online (2%, 39 Votes)
- Star Wars The Old Republic (7%, 125 Votes)
- ArcheAge (2%, 35 Votes)
- Astellia Online (1%, 12 Votes)
- Skyforge (0%, 9 Votes)
- Blade and Soul (1%, 15 Votes)
- TERA (1%, 22 Votes)
- DC Universe Online (1%, 14 Votes)
- Wurm Online (9%, 176 Votes)
- RIFT (2%, 30 Votes)
- Secret World Legends (2%, 37 Votes)
- EverQuest II (2%, 44 Votes)
- PlanetSide 2 (1%, 20 Votes)
- Something else (tell us in the comments!) (3%, 62 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,657