Massively OP’s 2020 Awards: Not-So-Massively Game of the Year

    
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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

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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 a few others we thought should be included.
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Adil Ejaz

Did they forget about Hades to include it here?

miol
Reader
miol

– “…but it’ll be a cold day in hell before I’d vote for an unapologetic gacha gamblebox…”

– “…I cannot in good conscience support that triple-dip model and the crafting bag sub trick…”

Is with Bree & few others only a minority on MOP left with a conscience? What happened?

A majority voting for ESO in having one of the best MMO business models and now this with Genshin Impact?

rafael12104
Reader
rafael12104

Hmm. Well, for me there are alot of canidates and to be honest, as games in general they have had a better year than “massive” games.

No Man’s Sky, Path of Exile, Warframe should all be mentioned. I’ve played all of these games this year and I will always return to these games.

Honorable mention is Fallout 76. Yes, I said it. Heh. They brought great story telling and NPCs into the game and it has made a world of difference. Not sure the bug clean up will ever end, but at least when I log in now it isn’t short lived due to some game breaking issue.

Reader
Anstalt

This is a size of multiplayer I just don’t really play, so it’s hard to vote. I play single player and I play massively multiplayer, but regular multiplayer just puts me off. You get all of the grief of pugs and none of the joy of a server community. Only seems to be fun if you can play with a group of existing friends, but not many of my friends are gamers so its a struggle.

That said, voted Animal Crossing, purely because it seems to have brought some light hearted relief to many friends this year.

Reader
Franklin Adams

I voted for Division 2 but it’s because I’m actually playing it, for 30 bucks I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of it (3 bucks for the base game, and 25 for Warlords of New York).

I would have probably voted for Animal Crossing but the joycon drift on my Switch is so bad that I haven’t touched that console since about January. I’m also getting Star Wars Squadrons today because I got a PSVR so I may wind up changing my mind. I’m primarily a PC gamer though and I don’t particularly enjoy console limitations so we shall see.

Reader
Ironwu

For me, it is still No Man’s Sky. The continued development at no cost to owners of the game elevates it far above all others.

Just my opinion, but there it is. :)

Reader
PanagiotisLial1

Still No Man’s Sky for me but I enjoyed the Star Wars game too

Reader
Crowe

Cyberpunk 2077. (obviously on a PC) Most interesting non-MMO I’ve played in years. Makes me want to check out the pen & paper version.

EmberStar
Reader
EmberStar

If it matters, Humble Bundle is doing a PDF bundle of just about all the classic Cyberpunk rulebooks and sourcebooks.

Reader
SmiteDoctor

I went with Grimdawn and Fallout 76, Grimdawn because they are releasing some big chunks of content for a game that’s no longer in active development, and Fallout 76 because they really turned the game around this year with some decent DLCs (I don’t even play the game but I can see this).

Demon of Razgriz
Reader
Demon of Razgriz

Genshin Impact on the iPhone has become my favorite mobile MMO to play. To be able to play at my own pace without feeling like I need to spend money to advance the story has been a revelation. Unlike games like Dragon Raja that put you behind too many gameplay pauses to engage in daily missions that have no bearing and hard to even enjoy because of the inability to team up, GI is a revelation of how a mobile MMO should appeal to players.