Massively OP’s 2021 Awards: Biggest MMO Surprise


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

Today’s award is for the Biggest MMO Surprise of 2021, which was awarded to the Microsoft buyout of Besthsoft last year. This category is meant to offer something quite different from big stories, disappointments, and blunder; it’s meant to be something nobody saw coming at all, usually something positive, though not always. 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 Biggest MMO Surprise of 2021 is…


Andrew Ross: New World’s initial popularity.

Andy McAdams: Palia’s announcement out of the blue. I never played Fallen Earth, but if the delighted surprise in MOP chat is any indication, it has earned the biggest surprise of the year.

Brianna Royce: I haven’t even really thought about Fallen Earth since I attempted playing it a million years ago, and I certainly never expected it to come back after being shut down. The fact that a company bought it, closed it, and opened it again, for free? Yeah that’s a surprise, to be sure, but a welcome one. :D

Carlo Lacsina: Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis’ release. It felt like this game just came out of nowhere! It’s nice that it came out on time and it’s got a pretty fun gameplay loop. There’s something relaxing about just going out to the open world and kicking monster butt for the sole purpose of just getting stronger. It’s kind of slow right now, but for the folks that don’t log in every day or just play casually, there’s quite a few things to do. And for younger players, this would make a solid first MMO.

Chris Neal: Rise of the cozy co-op MMOs. Yes, let the comfy, more pastoral, large-scale multiplayer and MMO game revolution begin. I am here for this.

Colin Henry: Fallen Earth Classic. I remember when Fallen Earth went dark and studio Little Orbit promised a reboot, my only thought was that it was simply trying to soften the blow of the shutdown. It had been such a niche title for its entire existence, its chances of a reboot or revival seemed slim, yet here we are. Revivals like this always give me hope that one day we may see the sunsetted MMOs that I miss brought back to life in some form.

Eliot Lefebvre: The whole Magic Legends situation. Yeah, I didn’t think Magic Legends was a great game. It was an acceptable one, at best. But still, it’s unusual for Cryptic of all companies to just cut its losses that rapidly.

Justin Olivetti: No contest — the abrupt and delightful resurrection of Fallen Earth, one of my all-time favorite MMOs, brought back for free because the devs simply loved it so much. This still brings a smile to my face.

Mia DeSanzo: Swords of Legends Online’s abrupt announcement and launch buzz.

Sam Kash: New World releasing and it’s actually fun!

Tyler Edwards: Palia coming out of nowhere and getting a lot of hype off the bat.

The resurrection of Fallen Earth took our award for Biggest MMO Surprise. What’s your pick?

Reader poll: What was the biggest surprise in the MMO world in 2021?

  • The resurrection of Fallen Earth (26%, 164 Votes)
  • The reveal of Palia and rise of cozy co-op MMOs (8%, 52 Votes)
  • The reveal and fast-tracking of Swords of Legends Online (1%, 9 Votes)
  • The cancelation of Magic Legends (5%, 30 Votes)
  • Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis' (1%, 5 Votes)
  • New World actually doing huge Steam numbers at launch (4%, 25 Votes)
  • Amazon canceling its LOTR MMO (11%, 69 Votes)
  • Anthem being maintenance moded (1%, 6 Votes)
  • Riot working on a new MMO (5%, 32 Votes)
  • Gamigo losing ArcheAge to Kakao (1%, 9 Votes)
  • Daybreak working on a Marvel MMO (3%, 18 Votes)
  • RIFT getting new content in 2022 (7%, 43 Votes)
  • Crowfall kinda bombing and getting sold (2%, 12 Votes)
  • WoW Retail not getting an expansion announcement (3%, 18 Votes)
  • The Epic/Apple lawsuit result (0%, 2 Votes)
  • LOTRO still on track for a console game (3%, 21 Votes)
  • Defiance and other Gamigo games being canned (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Gamigo revealing a new MMO (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Guild Wars 2 is finally doing Cantha (7%, 45 Votes)
  • EG7 ousting its CEO (0%, 2 Votes)
  • The heavy industry pushback against Kotick and Blizzard's grossness (5%, 30 Votes)
  • Camelot studio launching its second game into early access (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Pantheon trying to get into NFTs (1%, 4 Votes)
  • Saga of Lucimia losing its founder and name (0%, 3 Votes)
  • Dual Universe ousting its president and founder (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Gamestonk (2%, 15 Votes)
  • Something else (let us know in the comments!) (3%, 20 Votes)

Total Voters: 641

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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 surprises nominated plus a few others we thought should be included.
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