Massively OP’s 2020 Awards: MMO Expansion of the Year

    
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MassivelyOP’s end-of-the-year awards for 2020 continue today with our award for MMO Expansion of the Year, which was awarded to Final Fantasy XIV’s Shadowbringers last year. Every major update and expansion to an MMORPG was eligible for this award, as long as it launched 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 MMO Expansion of the Year for 2020 is…

WORLD OF WARCRAFT: SHADOWLANDS

Andy McAdams: I voted for Shadowlands here, but mostly because of lack of options. I really enjoy Shadowlands and I love the focus on doing more than raiding, but it was still a pretty safe expansion over all. Not bad by any stretch, but also not going to do as anything remotely seminal.

Brianna Royce: I can’t remember the last time I voted for a WoW expansion, but I just don’t think anything else stood as tall as Shadowlands in 2020. It just didn’t. This was not a great year for MMORPG expansions. Greymoor and Icebrood just haven’t lit the world on fire. Too many games are phoning it in, and I can’t even blame them because again… 2020 blows. Now, next year this award is going to be an actual choice. A hard choice. I can’t wait.

Carlo Lacsina: World of Warcraft: Shadowlands. This is the first time I’m playing WoW and at the start of a new expansion. I’ve only had cursory experience with WoW and a very short stint in WoW Classic. But this, this, is a great expansion. I’ve gotten up to Maldraxxus, and I’m having such a fun time playing through this game. I’m finding myself getting lost in the world, it’s a gorgeous game too. I cannot believe this game came out in 2004. So many other games from that era aged so poorly, but this still looks amazing. I am getting so lost in the game too and the writing is some top tier stuff! I finally understand why WoW set the standard from this expansion. The way the story is told is perfect for an MMORPG. It’s got the right mix of chattiness and text, and while the questing isn’t anything special, the writing is what’s got me invested in grabbing all those thicc bear asses. And that endgame looks legit fun to me – I can’t wait to get there!

Chris Neal: World of Warcraft Shadowlands. I’m going second-hand experience here, but there are a number of folks who are deep in to WoW’s latest and they all seem generally pleased with how things have played out. Which doesn’t read an awful lot like a glowing recommendation nor a mind-blowing boat-rocker, I contend, but an expansion that’s enjoyed by a lot of people can’t be a bad thing, right?

Eliot Lefebvre: It surprised me a lot how Guild Wars 2 kept pushing forward with the Icebrood Saga, and at least from my vantage point it definitely seemed to be well-received, contrary to my own guesses about what felt like it was always a holding pattern of content. It wasn’t a traditional expansion that the game definitely needed, but I think there’s a lot to be proud of for what it managed with the space it actually had.

Justin Olivetti: WoW Shadowlands, ESO Greymoor, Fallout 76’s Wastelanders/One Wasteland. Blizzard took an extra month to get the polish down on this, and as a result, Shadowlands got a great launch that while not revolutionizing the title, provided great zones, deep endgame systems, and an amazingly enjoyable new leveling redesign. People are still being understandably cautious about this one, but at least it doesn’t look like a Battle for Azeroth trainwreck out of the gate!

Mia DeSanzo: No Man’s Sky Desolation — Not the most important update, but my personal favorite.

MJ Guthrie: I’m going to say it’s a tie: STO for the Klingon Civil War and ESO for Dark Heart of Skyrim. I really love the overarching long-term stories tied together throughout the year! In fact, I am appreciating more and more this spreading of the content out instead of balling it up in a single yearly expansion; content in one-time expansions get blown through in no time, then the rest of the year is just sitting and waiting for the next big new thing (which is often not even connected). Also, I can’t ignore that ESO’s Greymoor has brought me in to regularly playing again!

Tyler Edwards: I voted for WoW’s leveling revamp, not so much Shadowlands itself. By all reports Shadowlands has been well-received, but one gets the impression that its main virtue is simply that it’s not BFA. I think it’s the leveling changes that are a real step forward for the game; without a new race, class, or anything else likely to persist into the next expansion, Shadowlands is more like an unusually large content patch than a true expansion pack.

WoW Shadowlands took our award for MMO Expansion of the Year. What’s your pick?

Reader poll: What was the best MMO expansion or major update of 2020?

  • WoW Shadowlands (32%, 168 Votes)
  • ESO Greymoor and Dark Heart of Skyrim (13%, 67 Votes)
  • Guild Wars 2 Icebrood Saga (6%, 29 Votes)
  • STO House Divided (2%, 10 Votes)
  • No Man's Sky Desolation (4%, 23 Votes)
  • Fallout 76 Wastelanders (6%, 29 Votes)
  • Pokemon Go Go Beyond (0%, 2 Votes)
  • LOTRO Great Wedding (1%, 7 Votes)
  • BDO Odylitta (1%, 3 Votes)
  • FFXIV Reflections in Crystal (16%, 81 Votes)
  • PS2 Colossus (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Neverwinter Infernal Descent and Avernus (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Albion Queen and Road to Avalon (1%, 6 Votes)
  • TERA Crescent Sea (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Aion Return to Katalam (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Legends of Aria DLC (0%, 0 Votes)
  • EverQuest II Reign of Shadows (2%, 9 Votes)
  • DCUO Birds of Prey and Wonderverse (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Age of Conan Onslaught (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Trove Delves (1%, 3 Votes)
  • ArcheAge Garden of the Gods (1%, 5 Votes)
  • RuneScape Archaeology update (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Division 2 Warlords of New York (1%, 4 Votes)
  • EverQuest Claws of Veeshan (2%, 8 Votes)
  • DDO Fables of the Feywild (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Path of Exile Heist (1%, 7 Votes)
  • SWTOR Feast of Prosperity (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Destiny 2 Beyond Light (2%, 12 Votes)
  • EVE Online's 2020 Quadrants (1%, 7 Votes)
  • Something else (tell us in the comments!) (2%, 9 Votes)

Total Voters: 430

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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 expansions and updates nominated plus a few others we thought should be included.
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LITF

I defo don’t agree with Shadowlands sentiment. I played through the starting experience and it’s…. painfully average, by the numbers, stale WoW expansion experience. If you strip it of context and story it will be hard to tell which expansion are you really playing. It fail to innovate in any meaningful way, covenants while sound neat are largely renown gated to stretch the time it takes to do their quests (which is so to say not even new for wow – reputation gating was a thing since long ago). Story so far is really bog standard and hardly inspired, some bits of it even feel like legion/mop/bfa/etc and follow the same narrative structure. “You invade new territory with your allied forces, they get stranded/smashed, now it’s up to you to establish a forward operation base, work with natives to recruit them to your cause or even just get help from them, then rescue members of the original assault force one by one as the story goes, culminating in a united stand against the big bad eventually”. That’s like almost every expansion launch story in one sentence. It got to the point of tedium.

Outside of WoW, I think Odylitta is kind of underrated – it’s a sizeable landmass that players can now access to the east of Kamasilvia, which has lots of super high-end grind spots (so maybe finally those uber-geared players can move on from lower end spots?), new visual style, interesting story and insight into Vedir and Ahib culture. It’s nothing mind-blowing, but it does expand the game, add new insights into the world, comes with a bunch of new classes too (latest one being Nova) and more content for the rest of the game. Some of it is more of the same, true, but there is also brand new stuff and more experimentation that is welcome. ESO Greymoor deserves a mention since it adds more landmass, rework to vampire skill line (so rejoice if you wanted it), more story and the archaeology inspired profession. It’s nothing mind-blowing though.

Outside of that tbh this year was rather uneventful for MMORPGs I play. FFXIV had some passable content come out, albeit with a large delay (which is understandable), SWTOR had some new content but honestly I was finding it harder and harder to engage with it due to slow pace of updates, somewhat dwindling community, lack of technical updates to the game’s client. BDO is doing well, I’ve already talked about Odylitta. WoW’s new expansion is exactly what I expected it to be – very boring and average, has really “ActiBlizz” feeling to it, none of that old-school Blizzard stuff.

Outside of that I’ve been trying to give TERA and Rift another go to no success – after BDO level graphics and gameplay and SWTOR and FFXIV level storytelling none of them felt like something I can really engage with. I feel like at his point old MMORPGs are just not playable for me outside of a nostalgia trip to EQ or WoW. Much higher quality storytelling and extremely good looking and detailed worlds of other MMOs simply spoiled me to the point of not being able to really engage with barebones storytelling, clunky gameplay, emptyish worlds of eld. Still probably will do a nostalgia visit to EverQuest though.

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Loopy

I can’t say i’d vote for any. I either haven’t tried them yet, or didn’t like them.

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Dobablo

I like Shadowlands but there is no way you can give it expansion of the year. The expansion is more of the same with tweaking and half the massively staff hated the status quo. Everyone always loves the first two months of a WoW expansion until they get bored and minor flaws are re-designated as game-killing problems that Blizzard won’t fix because they are evil. Wait a month and Shadowlands will be decried as the worst thing that happened in 2020.

In all seriousness, the Shadowlands feature with the most praise is a buggy level squish and the day that a level squish wins expansion of the year is the day we should turn off our PCs and get a PlayStation Now subscription.

ghostmourn
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ghostmourn

I’m really enjoying Shadowlands so its gets my vote (That and simply because I haven’t tried any of the others!) I didn’t hate BFA, I played mainly Horde and I thought the Zuldazar area + the Jungle zone to the north were really cool.

This week the wifey and I have started leveling Alliance from the new starting area and I’m really impressed by the new leveling path they created there – Its been a blast of humorous Pirate leveling areas so far (were about lvl 20.) and its really well done its also very different from the classic leveling experience in a way that I think younger players will respond well to.

So yeah Blizzards has impressed with Shadowlands! Oh and Ardenweald is a great zone – Anyone else reminded of Early Aion here? I find the color pallet and even some of the style and content a bit reminiscent of Aion.

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BalsBigBrother

Fallout 76 Wastelanders would be it for me.

It’s a fantastic addition to the game and has been a great springboard to build off moving forward with more content. It’s been nice to see so many folks give the game a try and for the most part being positive about their time in the game after this expansion dropped.

It’s worth remembering that it was a free expansion too which is always a positive.

I have only just started the Greymore / Skyrim expansion for ESO even though I purchased it at launch (in May?). It’s been good so far but I haven’t played it nearly long enough to give a view on its overall quality.

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2Ton Gamer

but but but LOTRO had an Expansion, albeit a “mini” one. Where’s that one at and why is there no love? :P

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Eliandal

Definitely enjoying Shadowlands. As a long term player, gotta say, love all the little ‘callbacks’

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Life_Isnt_Just_Dank_Memes

lol eliot just straight throwing shade at shadowlands by choosing a game that didn’t have an expansion.

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Ironwu

Who do I think should get it? No Man’s Sky continues to expand on the game at no cost to the players. And the expansions are significant.

Kudos to Hello Games! I kind of wish they would do an MMO! :)

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Life_Isnt_Just_Dank_Memes

hear! hear!

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Ironwu

Shadowlands is a horrible choice, and I think as folks realize that this is an expansion targeted solely towards the M+/Raiding elite players, the hype will quickly die and the reality of it will become apparent to all.

For all those enjoying Shadowlands . . . have fun while it lasts.

Just my 2c. Probably all it is worth these days. :/

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Giggilybits

I totally agree with you. As a non guild casual player (not in time played but content played) I like random BGS and playing my Alts. I swear people only play mythic dungeons and raids just to dominate in PvP but the system now is a little more equal than it use to be. At least now you can grind out conquest and honor and upgrade where needed. I guess that’s fair for all the people who like to do harder content. Shadowlands for most people is going to be been here done that.

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Utakata

I’m not sure it’s that much harder…rather, it’s more an acceptable way to gain better loot. Also see: Status quo.

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Eliandal

Not an M+/Raiding elite player. Still enjoying it, and the ‘fun’ is still lasting

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Bruno Brito

Give it two or three months. Let the first patches arrive.

ghostmourn
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ghostmourn

I like that they brought back stuff like honor gear and its been fairly easy to stay competitive enough so far. The new leveling revamp and having classic available as an option makes me suspect the player base will hang around and its not going to be a short lived ‘pop’ like we have gotten used to over the last few expansions.

(Now if they would just let us have our farms again, like we did in MOP!)

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Bruno Brito

Never said it was a good choice. It just speaks on how shitty the MMO market is right now.

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Utakata

It s not a horrible choice at all. Rather it’s an expansion, for right or wrong, that has done well for it’s audience so far. So it has every reasonable right to be there. As it has every right to be popular as it is. Sure, it has it’s issues – lots of issues in fact – but it shouldn’t be denied it’s rightful top place among the tally.