End-of-Year Eleven: The best MMO updates and expansions of 2020

    
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With so many delays, it’s a wonder that anything released this year at all! And while new patches and expansions trickled rather than flowed through 2020, arrive they did. When we sat down at the office to suss out this list, we actually found ourselves with so many options that it created debate over which to include and which to mention in the next sentence as a consolation prize.

So while we won’t be talking about ArcheAge’s controversial Garden of the Gods patch or how RuneScape added Archaeology, we are going to look down the list of the best expansions and content patches that came out for MMORPGs this year. And if you’re very good and very patient, we may even toss in some not-so-massively nominations at the end!

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands

With all of the delays and whatnot, Shadowlands quickly became the only big game in town for fall 2020. After its own surprising one-month delay, the expansion went live in late November to take us into World of Warcraft’s idea of the afterlife. The expansion rearranged leveling, added five new zones, and laid out systems such as covenants and soulbinds for the next two years.

Black Desert: O’dylitta

That isn’t to say that Shadowlands had the fall completely to itself. Back in October, Black Desert opened the doors to O’dyllita, considered by our own columnist to be one of best zones Pearl Abyss ever built. Players looking for something “very scary and very dangerous” had their dark dreams come true with this patch.

Who's THIS guy

Final Fantasy XIV: Reflections in Crystal

With everyone raving about the fantastic storyline of Shadowbringers, it is any surprise that Final Fantasy XIV fans leaped at getting more of it with Patch 5.3: Reflections in Crystal? It wasn’t the only or last patch of the year, but it did tide the fanbase over as they waited for 5.4… and the rumored expansion to come after that next year.

Guild Wars 2: Icebrood Saga

While I suspect that ArenaNet resorted to parceling out a single big content update in multiple smaller ones under the guise of a “saga,” it’s still made Guild Wars 2 players happy to get more of the Icebrood Saga over the course of the year. The studio tried out a few new ideas with it, such as strike missions, and gave players plenty of additional story beats to enjoy. Better enjoy it now, too, before all the dragons… come to an end!

Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor

You’d think that heading back to Skyrim would’ve been a slam-dunk success for Elder Scrolls Online, but it ended up being a much quieter release in the end. Not terrible, mind you, but not the smash hit that ZeniMax probably hoped it would be. Still, it was great to revisit the frosty lands (and sparkly underground realms) while getting to know the game’s new artifact system.

PlanetSide 2: Colossus

Daybreak’s second most popular MMO rolled out one of its most significant updates this past June. Colossus introduced the titular heavy tank, guild logs, and a host of needed changes that improved how this online shooter functioned. It was almost enough to make us completely forget about how PlanetSide Arena got yanked off the virtual shelf last winter.

Bekk, permit me to smash.

Star Trek Online: House Divided

The Klingons have long been the neglected and downtrodden faction of Star Trek Online, but no more! This year, Cryptic gave a lot of love to the bumpy heads and their allies, especially with the new House Divided story arc. Eliot found himself impressed, saying, “If you’ve had trouble getting a Klingon captain going before now, maybe it’s time to give one another shot. The smoother experience definitely makes it rewarding.”

Neverwinter: Infernal Descent and Avernus

If you are seeking an MMO that churns out content at a fairly constant rate, Neverwinter is your pal. January’s Infernal Descent took inspiration from a tabletop adventure, while the summer’s Avernus module concluded the epic story that Infernal Descent began.

EverQuest: Claws of Veeshan and EverQuest II: Reign of Shadows

And speaking of consistency, we always know that when the end of the year rolls around, both EverQuest titles are going to pump out expansions to add to their vast content libraries. Claws of Veeshan added a half-dozen new zones and the Dragon’s Hoard system to EverQuest, while Reign of Shadows made the new Vah Shir race playable for EverQuest II adventurers.

DC Universe Online: Birds of Prey and Wonderverse

It was hard to pick between the two big DCUO updates this year, so I’m just going to include them both! The Birds of Prey arc tied into Harley Quinn and her pals from the comics over the spring, while Wonderverse brought out all the Wonder Women this summer with a massive crossover episode.

It's a killer

Albion Online: Queen and Rise of Avalon

Albion Online got its largest post-launch patch with January’s Queen, which reworked Outlands, added hideouts, welcomed the Avalonian faction, and introduced open-world territory battles. The game world got even better with August’s Rise of Avalon and its extensive (and helpful!) road network.

Dungeons and Dragons Online: Fables of the Feywild

If your tastes tend to the more fantastical, then DDO had you covered this year. The game’s latest expansion, Fables of the Feywild, took players into a realm full of mythical creatures. Well, more “standard mythical” than the weirdness that you tend to find in your average D&D setting.

Lord of the Rings Online: The Great Wedding

Forget the hooplah around Lord of the Rings Online’s “mini-expansion;” the Great Wedding was the must-see event of the year. The huge update finally married off Aragorn and Arwen while adding a brand-new mid-summer festival to the MMO.

Not-so-massively updates

And if you were branching off from MMOs into online multiplayer titles, there were a few releases of note as well. Destiny 2’s Beyond Light traveled to Europa, Fallout 76 got loads better with its Wastelanders and One Wasteland patches, and Path of Exile continued to mystify and impress with its Heist and Harvest updates.

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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Neurotic

I think that this list is a nice testament to these developers’ ability to carry on working and producing solid content, despite the various difficulties this year. I think that we’ve all benefitted from the pleasure and entertainment of at least some of the games on this list, so let’s also take a moment to celebrate this fact and be grateful for the continued life of our MMOG squeezes and the continued health and happiness of those who produce them for us! 🙂👍❤️

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Hurbster

Greymoor was bang average at best. Might as well have had one character running about with a sign saying ‘I’m the bad guy!’. And they used the princess trope for the second year running.

Also buggy as hell. Even worse than usual for ESO.

Harrowstorms – lol.

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Bruno Brito

I’ve said before, i’ll say it again:

Pit of mediocrity.

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Harbinger_Kyleran

Seems like a year where every MMO received a nod just for showing up.

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Crowe

And the participation award goes to…

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Jeremy Barnes

What a sad year it was for MMOs

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treehuggerhannah

I know this is not a popular opinion, but I really enjoyed Greymoor. It was a fun storyline with some decent twists, the zones were nice, and the artifact hunting system was a relaxing alternative to combat and quests.

I’m not sure anything could have lived up to the amount of hype, but I thought it was good.

rafael12104
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rafael12104

Wastelanders put F76 back on the map. It was a huge update for Bethesda and it did what it was supposed to. It brought players back to the game and even garnered some new players despite it’s reputation.

The game has been demonstrably better since Wastelanders launch.

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Ironwu

Nothing really good or that stands out in this year’s MMO expansions. Pretty much average and below average offerings, especially considering the overall cost and/or lack of innovation or features.