MassivelyOP’s end-of-the-year awards for 2020 continue today with our award for the Not-So-Massively Game of the Year, which was awarded to No Man’s Sky last year. The games eligible for this category are online games that generally aren’t considered traditional MMORPGs; they’re MOBAs, online dungeon crawlers, ARPGs, online shooters, survival sandboxes, battle royale titles, and other games that tread into MMO territory but aren’t quite there. Once again, we’ve opted to include pre-2020 titles, as long as they accomplished something truly notable in this calendar 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 Not-So-Massively Game of the Year for 2020 is…
GENSHIN IMPACT and ANIMAL CROSSING: NEW HORIZONS
Andrew Ross: Pokemon Go. As much as I enjoy Pokemon Sword’s Galar region, particularly the immersion brought in by this year’s expansions, Niantic’s version of the game has a broader playerbase, and the COVID changes helped me connect with local players when I’ve really needed it. Many of the changes also make the game more accessible for people with physical handicaps. Niantic’s hit a sweet spot, and while I know we’ll lose some of these features, right now the company’s done good. Oh, and the upcoming end-of-the-year expansion feels perfectly timed. Runner-up: Animal Crossing: New Horizons. It feels both familiar and new. The start of the game feels like a prequel, the rest like an expansion. The new events and updates – not the simple traditional seasonal content – really extend the life of the game, as I’m seeing people in my community come back for a bit every once in a while. Watching fireworks in the summer or dressing up for Halloween parties was lost for many of us in 2020, but doing simple versions of these things in ACNH gave us a vague sense that we still had them and will be ready to do them IRL once we can gather together again.
Andy McAdams: I was all about ACNH. I binged that game during the start of the pandemic to really help me cope, and it succeeded. It was exactly the whimsical game I needed back when things were getting dicey, the first time. I downloaded Genshin Impact on mobile, didn’t play it for months, and then uninstalled it. I’m glad people enjoy it, but I feel as if I made the choice for me when it comes to GI.
Brianna Royce: Dauntless, No Man’s Sky, Animal Crossing. I respect the fun my colleagues are having with Genshin Impact, but it’ll be a cold day in hell before I’d vote for an unapologetic gacha gamblebox when so many better candidates for this award exist. Dauntless and No Man’s Sky brought the goods in 2020 rather than phoning it in like so many multiplayer titles this year, and Animal Crossing brought true delight to my household. Any of those would be a pick I’d feel good about. Oh yeah, and Minecraft Dungeons! My kids had a blast in there. It’s been a good introduction to roguelikes for them.
Carlo Lacsina: Genshin Impact. This game is as disruptive as Black Desert Online is disruptive. It’s got a super triggering monetization scheme with the gacha mechanics, but the game built around it is fun. It’s playable for free to play players, and the fact that they released a game that seamlessly plays on PlayStation 4 and 5, the phone, and PC is just awesome. It just goes to show that as long as the game is legitimately good, players will be willing to deal with however they plan on monetizing. While I’m usually not the type to trust a company, I am willing to give this company the benefit of the doubt that there will be ways around their gacha, the same way they did that with Honkai Impact.
Chris Neal: Genshin Impact, Dauntless, Warframe. GI is near enough to an MMO as to make barely any difference in terms of the way it plays; it’s pleasantly grindy (so long as you don’t mainline it), it has a lovely open world to explore, and the active combat and party switching mechanic is busy enough that I feel very nearly like I’m hitting a 32-button triple-hotbar MMORPG. Gacha monetization be damned, this game has some spectacular production value top to bottom and is without question a blast. And I continue to go to bat for this one and make no attempt to hide my fandom of Dauntless. It’s one of those games that proves watching games develop live isn’t a slow agony or a gradual money drain. This past year further impressed me with the new Escalation hunts and the new open world-style Hunting Grounds, both of which further illustrate that Dauntless keeps evolving in new and exciting ways.
Eliot Lefebvre: Genshin Impact. I ultimately bounced off of Genshin Impact, but that’s no mark against the game’s quality. For a small and largely low-impact title, Genshin Impact seemed to surprise everyone, and even as someone not currently playing it I have a lot of affection for what it accomplished. It’s a good game!
Justin Olivetti: Fallout 76, Warframe, No Man’s Sky. Genshin Impact became the obsession of a lot of my friends this fall. Who would have thought that a gacha game would be the talk of the town? I guess if you design the business model just right and give players a gorgeous world and lots to do, this game would be your answer.
Mia DeSanzo: Genshin Impact.
MJ Guthrie: I feel like my sample-size of titles I play make this a hard category for me because I play so few regularly. Path of Exile is a solid choice, with its regular updates, varied leagues, and great studio. However, I am going to plug for Apex Legends here. I don’t play much, but I have been impressed with both the development, the goals, and the focus on not sacrificing employees on the alter of the crunch for the sake of said development.
Sam Kash: Spellbreak. It’s a thoughtful title, and its whole daily and quest system is a cool addition too. Adding lore plus the tie-in with questing is good and keeps me motivated to play. Also it has a cool class build system, which is pretty unique to the battle royale genre.
Tina Lauro Pollock:
Tyler Edwards: Iron Harvest 1920 really impressed me. It’s the perfect mix of innovation and tradition, the gameplay and story are both rock solid, and it’s had some really good post-launch support. A close second place is Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem, which I’ve had a great deal of fun with.
Genshin Impact and Animal Crossing: New Horizons took our award for Not-So-Massively Game of the Year for 2020. What’s your pick?
Reader poll: What was the best Not-So-Massively game of 2020?
- Genshin Impact (17%, 57 Votes)
- Animal Crossing New Horizons (13%, 43 Votes)
- Pokemon Go (1%, 4 Votes)
- Dauntless (2%, 8 Votes)
- No Man's Sky (13%, 43 Votes)
- Minecraft Dungeons (1%, 2 Votes)
- Warframe (7%, 22 Votes)
- Path of Exile (5%, 18 Votes)
- Fallout 76 (6%, 19 Votes)
- Apex Legends (0%, 1 Votes)
- Iron Harvest (1%, 2 Votes)
- Wolcen (2%, 6 Votes)
- Torchlight III (0%, 1 Votes)
- Conan Exiles (3%, 9 Votes)
- Red Dead Online (1%, 5 Votes)
- World of Warships (1%, 4 Votes)
- Astroneer (1%, 3 Votes)
- Sea of Thieves (1%, 5 Votes)
- Fortnite (1%, 3 Votes)
- Destiny 2 (3%, 11 Votes)
- Division 2 (2%, 7 Votes)
- PUBG (0%, 0 Votes)
- Overwatch (1%, 3 Votes)
- ARK Survival Evolved (1%, 2 Votes)
- Monster Hunter World (3%, 9 Votes)
- Hearthstone (0%, 1 Votes)
- Legends of Runeterra (1%, 4 Votes)
- Star Wars Squadrons (2%, 8 Votes)
- Warcraft III Reforged (0%, 0 Votes)
- Grim Dawn (2%, 8 Votes)
- Stardew Valley (4%, 12 Votes)
- Atlas (0%, 1 Votes)
- Starborne (0%, 0 Votes)
- Shadow Arena (0%, 1 Votes)
- Valorant (1%, 2 Votes)
- Something else (tell us in the comments!) (4%, 13 Votes)
Total Voters: 251