Massively OP’s 2020 Awards: Most Improved MMO

    
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MassivelyOP’s end-of-the-year awards for 2020 continue today with our award for Most Improved MMO, which was awarded to Black Desert last year. All live MMOs, regardless of release date, were eligible for this award, provided they made the improvements they’re being feted for this year. Don’t forget to cast your own vote in the just-for-fun reader poll at the very end!

And the MassivelyOP staff pick for the Most Improved MMO of 2020 is…

BLACK DESERT

Andy McAdams: I don’t think anyone actually deserves Most Improved this year because I don’t think any game actually did anything more than just tread water this year. My opinion of BDO is pretty low, so I also don’t agree it deserves that Most Improved. But like I said, but no MMO does in 2020.

Brianna Royce: I waffled on this one; I thought WoW’s pre-Shadowlands patch deserved a nod, or maybe even PlanetSide 2 since it’s turned into quite a powerhouse of overhaul patches in 2020 (I pitched this and was met with blank stares, so sorry, PS2). But then Carlo said the magic words – “season servers” – and reminded me that Black Desert reinvented itself for the better this summer. It has my nom.

Carlo Lacsina: Black Desert. I feel that this game has improved so much in the last year. The season servers alone justify a massive improvement in getting more people to play this game. I strongly believe the best MMOs in the coming decade wont gate players because of story progress or won’t “get good when you’re there.” I appreciate that the game at least gets that recognition.

Chris Neal: Black Desert, SWTOR. This one was extremely hard for me to suss out on my own, but after some discussion with the team, I was reminded of just how much Black Desert improved through one pretty simple addition: the seasonal servers. Anything that circumvents this game’s otherwise extremely rote leveling experience is a vast improvement to me, and it helped me to get a bit more experimental with classes and try new things out that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to before. Maybe someday I’ll actually settle on a main, get through a seasonal server, and actually see what late-game stuff is all about.

Eliot Lefebvre: Honestly, leaning toward Black Desert Online or Guild Wars 2 here.

Justin Olivetti: World of Warcraft 9.0, FFXIV, No Man’s Sky.

MJ Guthrie: Black Desert. Pointing out (as I have in years past) that “most improved” can easily mean going from good to even better, I think Black Desert Online earns this with the season servers this year. I know a number of very casual players who jumped on board for these seasons, increasing play and engagement. In fact, if BDO keeps its upward momentum, I feel it is poised to snatch the GOTY crown back soon.

Tyler Edwards: If it has to be something launched, I think WoW deserves this for the leveling revamp. It could have done more, and there are definite issues with the system, but it’s still got a lot going for it, and I don’t think any other games had big leaps forward like this in 2020.

Black Desert took our award for Most Improved MMO of 2020. What’s your pick?

Reader poll: What was the most improved MMO of 2020?

  • Black Desert (7%, 75 Votes)
  • World of Warcraft (24%, 257 Votes)
  • PlanetSide 2 (3%, 34 Votes)
  • SWTOR (7%, 74 Votes)
  • Guild Wars 2 (7%, 75 Votes)
  • FFXIV (10%, 107 Votes)
  • No Man's Sky (10%, 114 Votes)
  • Elder Scrolls Online (6%, 61 Votes)
  • RuneScape (2%, 25 Votes)
  • ArcheAge Unchained (1%, 9 Votes)
  • EVE Online (2%, 20 Votes)
  • Neverwinter (1%, 11 Votes)
  • Star Trek Online (1%, 7 Votes)
  • Lord of the Rings Online (2%, 24 Votes)
  • DC Universe Online (0%, 2 Votes)
  • TERA (0%, 4 Votes)
  • Blade and Soul (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Dungeons and Dragons Online (1%, 10 Votes)
  • Elite Dangerous (1%, 8 Votes)
  • EverQuest II (1%, 7 Votes)
  • Albion Online (4%, 49 Votes)
  • Nothing (9%, 93 Votes)
  • Something else (tell us in the comments!) (2%, 25 Votes)

Total Voters: 966

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How does MassivelyOP choose the winner?
Our team gathers together to nominate and discuss candidates and hopefully settle on a consensus winner. We don’t have a hard vote, but we do include written commentary from every writer who submitted it on time so that you can see where some of us differed, what our secondary picks were, and why we personally nominated what we did (or didn’t). The site’s award goes to the staff selection, but we’ll include both it and the community’s top nomination in our debrief in January.
How does MassivelyOP populate this poll?
Poll options include all games nominated plus other released, live MMOs we thought had a chance!
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Kanbe

I’m with Andy on this one. Honestly can’t think of anything that I think would be deserving this year.

Reader
Ironwu

GW2 for me. Any company that actually invests in making their infrastructure perform better deserves all the accolades.

All of the MMO companies are churning out cookie cutter content anyway, so just because one companies cookies are slightly better than another’s (subjective anyway), does not mean they are doing ‘better’.

But Client / Server performance improvements? Yeah. Always worth a nod!

Just my feelings about it.

Reader
Gamewench

While I enjoyed my time in BDO I realized there is a lot of grinding at end game. The rng is horrible (I realize it’s similar to the same in other games.)
It does offer much to do though.
I don’t stay in one game for a very long time and move around to games I’ve purchased/played in the past.
Tl/dr: I don’t have enough real experience to know if it has much improved over the past as a “new” player.

Reader
Loyal Patron
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Dobablo

Every WoW patch is the best improvement every until people get bored with it. Then the patch becomes the one that killed the WoW.

Reader
Munchmeat2

WoW is like the CoD of the MMO world. The masses will just keep buying and playing it. Everyone knows it is crap deep down.

Reader
Anstalt

WAR: RoR is the only MMO I’ve spent any time with this year, and it’s definitely improved a lot.

Whilst I can see that NMS and E:D have improved a lot, they aren’t MMOs so shouldn’t be on the list. Mind you, a few of the others commonly called MMOS have low player caps too and aren’t actually massively multiplayer either (swtor, sto etc) so whatever.

Reader
Bruno Brito

a few of the others commonly called MMOS have low player caps too and aren’t actually massively multiplayer either (swtor, sto etc) so whatever.

What.

Reader
PanagiotisLial1

I may be wrong but I think he confused instance capacity on MMOs with server capacity

Reader
Anstalt

I’m talking about the maximum number of players that can share a virtual environment

i.e.

how big is the multiplayer component of the game?

Is it massively multiplayer?
Is it large multiplayer?
Is it normal multiplayer?
Is it small multiplayer?
Is it tiny multiplayer?

SWTOR had a player cap of 75, i.e. it was physically impossible to have more than 75 players within the same virtual environment. That’s less than PUBG and Fortnite, as well as a ton of shooters. Definitely not massively multiplayer. Maybe large multiplayer?

Compare that to games like WAR (seen 800+ regularly), LotRO (seen 1500+ back in the day), SWG (seen 500+ regularly). ESO has a cap of 600 in Cyrodiil. Those are massively multiplayer.

Reader
Bruno Brito

So? That’s irrelevant. MMOs aren’t defined by their maximum cap on layers, they’re defined by the number of logged people you can have in the servers and game itself at all times.

Reader
Anstalt

SWTOR has (had? been a few years) a player cap of 75

I’m told (but don’t have first hand experience) that STO has a player cap of 20

Those are both lower player caps that normal multiplayer games like Fortnite (100), PUBG (100), Battlefield (128) etc. Shouldn’t really call a game massively multiplayer if the multiplayer component is smaller than normal multiplayer games.

I know it’s not necessarily a feature you (or most others) care about, and that’s fine, but it is the defining feature of the genre. If you mostly play solo, or just with friends, then it’s probably not even a feature you’ll notice. But, if you actually care about the scale of the multiplayer, get involved with the community and enjoy large scale events (like me) then it’s extremely noticeable. This is one of the reasons I quit SWTOR, the player cap of 75 just killed any sense of community, it really made a big difference.

Reader
Emiliano Lozada

SWTOR has (had? been a few years) a player cap of 75

This is extremely wrong. SWTOR has a cap of 255+ per instance (Which is swappable) and even in it’s current state it still pulls in 100+ while spawning in upwards of to 5 instances when the pop is moving around. The picture I have taken is at 1AM EST on a Sunday Night.

I respect w.e reason you left SWTOR but let’s not be throwing false information around due to it.

Screenshot 2020-12-13 221900.png
Reader
Anstalt

That’s great news!

When I was playing, the cap was 75 and it sucked. We tried organising server events but they kept failing because we could never get everyone together, we were always put into separate layers as we kept hitting the cap.

Good to hear they’ve increased the caps to large scale numbers now. Has it made a difference at all?

Reader
Bruno Brito

All you’re saying here, also being faulty, is also an arbitrary position to make. It’s not factual, is what YOU perceive as an MMO.

Reality is, MMOs are concurrent players on servers and on the game itself. Secret World has a playercap of 12 per layer, to feed upon the dread and emptiness of the world, yet it IS a MMO because there are thousands logged at the same time.

Whatever you seem to think about “large multiplayer” and whatever that is, is only you having an opinion. MMOs have a definition, and yours don’t fit with it.

Going by your logic, MMOs stop being MMOs because they lack population. That’s dumb.

Reader
Anstalt

Well, by your definition, all online games are thus massively multiplayer, because they have 1000s of concurrent players online, even if they can’t actually play together.

My definition comes from two primary places: understanding of the English language (massively is an adjective describing size, so applies to the next word: multiplayer. Multiplayer is defined by the number of people you can currently interact with, so if you are in a different instance, or server, or race, or map, then you are not counted towards the multiplayer numbers. So, to be massively multiplayer, you need to be able to interact with a massive amount of people right now). Second, its based on what two of the pioneers of the genre, Richard Garriott and Raph Koster, defined it as back in the day. They said you need 250+ players in the same virtual environment to be considered an mmo.

If you look at most of the old mmos, they all fit this definition.

I will spin it around and ask you some questions:

Do you consider Mario Kart 7 to be an mmo? It supports 12 people playing together, the same as Secret World.

Do you consider the Battlefield games to be MMOs? They support 128 people playing together, way more than Secret World, STO, E:D etc.

Do you consider something like iRacing or F1 2020 to be MMOs? They support 12-20 people playing together online, more than Secrent world.

I kind of get the feeling that you are mixing in the RPG definitions with your own feelings on massively multiplayer. To be massively multiplayer, all you need is a massive amount of people within the same virtual environment. That’s the only requirement. It is only when we start taking into consideration the RPG part that things like virtual online worlds, persistence, progression, roleplaying and all that other good stuff starts meaning something, but those features have nothing to do with being an mmo or not.

Reader
Taran Wonderer

That’s an odd definition. When players can hop layers without significant hassle, they are not completely outside the “same virtual environment.”
250 is an arbitrary number, and sticking your flag in that hill without a defensive logical framework is silly. Why not 1000? 100? Every player in the game? What makes the word “massively” mean 250? Industry titans with agendas? Naw.
Most people think of mmos as continuous game worlds where at least thousands of players have the ability to play together in a shared virtual environment, even if they can’t all be in a single localized “space” at the same time. And they’re right to.

Reader
Oleg Chebeneev

WoW. Shadowlands brought so many improvements. Changes in leveling system alone are HUGE and praised by almost everyone. Blizz made game less RNG which is also a big plus.

Also No Man’s Sky just keeps improving, getting better and better.

What is season servers in BD btw?

Reader
Vanquesse V

season servers are pretty good way to catch up with a new character. can’t use AH for gear but upgrading gear has much, much better odds than normal gear. It’s both a good way to introduce the game to new peeps and a nice distraction for vets. I had fun the one season I had time to play

Reader
Munchmeat2

Shadowlands is probably going to be one of their worst expansions. Give it a few months, once the honeymoon phase is over things are going to ugly.

Reader
Chris Walker

I’ve already had more fun in Shadowlands than during all of BFA. So far, so great.

Reader
Oleg Chebeneev

And this assumption is based on what exactly?

Reader
Bruno Brito

Shadowlands is waaaaay better than BfA. It’s not even debatable.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
squid

I’ve been playing Black Desert for the past couple months as I wait for New World, and I find myself slipping into the same rut that caused me to quit in the first place. I spend my time in the game grinding silver (via lifeskills, mob grind, crates, etc) to upgrade my gear…so I can grind more silver to upgrade my gear. Why?

I just feel like BDO doesn’t have *any* gameplay loop outside of gear upgrades.

Reader
Arktouros

I ran into this rut once with BDO and I thought about it comparatively to the rest of the MMO experiences and I didn’t find it that different. If I went to to go play WOW I’d grind max level to grind dungeons to grind heroic dungeons to grind raids to grind heroic raids to grind the new raid to have a new expansion come and do it all over again. Most games when broken down are fairly pointless.

My answer is simply because I enjoyed playing the game. I loved managing my worker “empire” in BDO constantly analyzing nodes, yields, market value, supply for Bartering needs. Making sure I’m bringing in the proper ratio of lumbers for trade crates and that I had enough cooked/alchemy items each day for imperial turn ins. I liked the management of it like it’s my own 3D version Farmville. I liked seeing my advancement and hitting new Mastery thresholds.

Goals wise I was pretty tapped out. My next goal was to spend literally 168+ hours gathering weeds at Behr for gathering mastery. Just awful. Gear wise I was looking at tens of billions for a single upgrade. Just yikes. But even regardless of all that even after quitting I still miss it because it was fun just playing the game.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
squid

Doing weeds right now. At Master 7 gathering I get about 15% per 500 energy. I look at the leaderboards and see people with Guru 30 gathering and think “How the fuck….?”

With other MMOs, yeah, it’s a gear treadmill, but better gear leads to new and interesting content. In BDO it just leads to more of the same—piles of mobs standing around doing nothing and waiting for people to one-shot them. Other games at least dress it up a bit better.

Reader
Arktouros

It’s been a while but the “how” is essentially stacking fuckloads of energy potions and % Lifeskill boots. 168 hours corresponds to the seven 24 hour buffs I had for 100% XP gain cakes from anniversaries and I had roughly 1000 large energy potions I had saved from crunching energy from alts over the years. Combine with a storage container and you could gather 24/7 at Behr if I wanted. My estimates using a few calculators was going to put me around Guru 10 I believe.

I guess other MMOs dress it up a bit but there’s really no difference. You gear up eventually move to new grinding spots. Most of the high end spots (think: mostly PEN gear TET accessories) all require quite a bit of offense and defense to survive in as well. I’d see the argument for earlier spots for sure, as one shotting nagas vs one shotting bandits isn’t much of a difference but those people who played the game for 4+ years and are beyond all that.

Reader
PanagiotisLial1

Its why I say all games got grinds. Its just which grinds you like and which you tolerate. Even loby based tactical shooters got PVP maps grind to raise ranks to unlock upgrades. Which grind everyone overlooks is which grind he likes. A grind after all is a repeatable activity(usually almost indefinitely)

Reader
2Ton Gamer

I’m the same, I think it felt too much resource simulator for me instead of having some fun combat adventure. I did not give BDO half the chance you guys did, but this pretty much sums up why it did not grab me.

Reader
Malcolm Swoboda

In my experience, SWTOR. Not bringing it to some elite status, ahaha, hahaha, ahahaaha no that will never happen – but a relatively much more playable one. With plenty more room for improvement.

rafael12104
Reader
rafael12104

Yeah, I’m cool with that. BD has come a long way and it is still improving. And now, with so much content available, I found a new way to play that doesn’t involve the grind.

How? I can simply login and live in the BD world for a while. Their several crafting professions that I enjoy so for example, I RP a trader/vendor that hauls goods for profit across the lands. After earning a good bit of coin, I can then go run a quest or two, or move on two another profession, or just chill exploring etc.

It is very relaxing and immersive. BDO gets my nod for continuing to improve and becoming a breath of fresh air.

Gelfred
Reader
Gelfred

Planetside 2 has had some good improvements, and some stepbacks as usual, but it seems to be in a better state than the last couple years.