Massively OP’s 2021 Awards: Most Underrated MMO


Welcome once again to Massively Overpowered’s formal end-of-the-year awards!

Every year, we poll our writers on the best and worst MMOs, stories, studios, and trends and assign awards to the winners. For the last seven years now, we’ve been splitting our awards into individual articles so we can explain them in detail and offer our writers’ individual nominations and our effort to reach a consensus. We also include just-for-fun reader’s polls at the end so we can compare our picks with yours! Expect another award every day through the end of the month, all leading up to our MMORPG of the year.

Today’s award is for the Most Underrated MMO of 2021, which was awarded to Star Trek Online last year. As is our tradition, all launched and live MMOs are eligible for many of these awards, including this one, as long as they accomplished something truly notable in this calendar year.

And the MassivelyOP staff pick for the Most Underrated MMO of 2021 is…


Andy McAdams: Anarchy Online. I honestly don’t know what to put here. We’ve had a few years of “really?” for which what I would probably call under-rated look like stars in the space. I didn’t play Elyon. I voted Anarchy Online here because it’s still the gold standard for virtual world MMOs for me.

Brianna Royce: My inclination was to say Albion Online; I absolutely fell in love with it this year, and I don’t think it really gets the kudos it’s due from the wider MMORPG community, but it has a booming population, so it’s not like it’s an unknown. So for this one, I’m going to side with Chris and Carlo, since they played many of the new releases I didn’t, and nom Elyon, which turned out to not be my cup of tea but apparently isn’t actually bad – it just had bad timing. I also think Crowfall is much better than people give it credit for, even if it’s not tremendously popular.

Carlo Lacsina: Swords of Legends Online and Elyon Online. I’ve been a huge proponent for both of these games all year. I was involved in both of their alpha and beta tests and I still strongly feel that Elyon Online is going to be one of (not the) defining games of this decade. But many people still write these games off as cash grabs or another “grindy MMO.”

Chris Neal: TERA and Elyon. Even if I’ve found some of the advancement systems slow down past a certain point, and even if it’s world is humdrum as heck, Elyon still has some great combat and some intriguing advancement systems going for it. And it seems to have gotten it’s audience, which is always nice to see. This genre is best with more games, not less!

Colin Henry: LOTRO. Lord of the Rings Online is one of those MMOs that doesn’t have the flashy graphics or growing playerbase of more modern MMOs, but it does keep on cranking out quality content all the same. The legendary servers Treebeard and Shadowfax, and their accompanying difficulty settings, make a fun new way to play the game, and the new Brawler class is a great addition as well.

Eliot Lefebvre: Are we all still pretending that Final Fantasy XI hasn’t had a maintenance mode with more content updates, story updates, and general activity than some games which are still live? We are? We’ve still just agreed to memory-hole this 20-year-old game pushing out monthly updates and more story and an entirely new leveling system? Well all right, then. Nothing, I guess.

Justin Olivetti: This will sound very weird, but I’m going to vote for Star Wars: The Old Republic. I think a whole lot of people have written this MMO off for various reasons without realizing that it’s still an incredible experience with a full bevy of MMO features. Plus, putting out a new expansion next week won’t hurt, either!

Mia DeSanzo: Bless Unleashed.

Tyler Edwards: I threw a vote to Aion. It’s far from perfect, and these days it definitely feels a bit dated, but I always felt like it deserved more love than it got. Of the various “WoW clones,” it always felt like it did the best job of establishing its own personality.

Elyon took our award for Most Underrated MMO. What’s your pick?

Reader poll: What was the most underrated MMO of 2021?

  • Elyon (4%, 63 Votes)
  • Bless Unleashed (1%, 26 Votes)
  • SWTOR (14%, 249 Votes)
  • LOTRO (13%, 225 Votes)
  • Albion Online (7%, 123 Votes)
  • Final Fantasy XI (8%, 136 Votes)
  • Anarchy Online (2%, 30 Votes)
  • Swords of Legends Online (3%, 55 Votes)
  • New World (5%, 83 Votes)
  • Crowfall (2%, 31 Votes)
  • Neverwinter (2%, 29 Votes)
  • Star Trek Online (3%, 46 Votes)
  • Aion (1%, 10 Votes)
  • Phantasy Star Online 2 (2%, 29 Votes)
  • Black Desert (3%, 47 Votes)
  • RuneScape (4%, 69 Votes)
  • Blade and Soul (0%, 8 Votes)
  • Dungeons and Dragons Online (4%, 65 Votes)
  • PlanetSide 2 (2%, 34 Votes)
  • DC Universe Online (2%, 28 Votes)
  • RIFT (3%, 46 Votes)
  • Skyforge (0%, 8 Votes)
  • Wurm Online (1%, 24 Votes)
  • TERA (2%, 29 Votes)
  • Elite Dangerous (2%, 37 Votes)
  • MapleStory (1%, 18 Votes)
  • Secret World Legends (3%, 47 Votes)
  • Fallen Earth (2%, 40 Votes)
  • Something else (tell us in the comments!) (6%, 111 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,504

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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 games we thought should and would be in the running. We did not include major MMORPGs that frequently win major awards (and therefore aren’t really underrated) unless directly nominated by staff.
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