Massively OP’s 2021 Awards: Most Improved MMO


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

Today’s award is for the Most Improved MMO of 2021, which was awarded to Black Desert last year. All live MMOs, regardless of release date, were eligible for this award, provided they made the improvements they’re being praised for this 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 Most Improved MMO of 2021 is…


Andy McAdams: Elder Scrolls Online, Guild Wars 2, SWTOR.

Ben Griggs: Elder Scrolls Online.

Brianna Royce: I didn’t have a strong opinion on this one; I might have said Albion Online because of its world revamp or Blade and Soul and Guild Wars 2 because of their graphics upgrades, and I would’ve jumped on the SWTOR train but for the delay, but I’m happy to get onboard with Elder Scrolls Online too – the addition of companions this year is definitely a huge improvement to the game.

Carlo Lacsina: Black Desert. I didn’t have as much time to play MMOs with me going back to a physical workspace and becoming a dad. But every time I log into Black Desert Online, it’s both still quite familiar but has also changed. Throughout the year, BDO released the Sage and the Corsair and introduced dungeon content that harkens back to the days of public dungeons with Atoraxxian. It continued to iterate and improve on season servers. With its most recent season+ ending, more players are getting to the endgame and getting on par with the rest of the playerbase. It’s a good time to get into Black Desert Online. And it even implemented a card game! Yar is a simple, yet super fun game to play. So we can check that off the list!

Chris Neal: SWTOR. Not only is this one doing things to make it’s gameplay feel a bit more distinct with it’s combat styles in Legacy of the Sith, it also is trying to make the MMORPG portion of itself feel better and more rewarding. For a game that feels like its been on the strength of telling a solo story, it’s nice to see SWTOR be an MMO again.

Colin Henry: Somehow this year’s sizable updates to The Elder Scrolls Online kind of flew under the radar. The Blackwood expansion brought us companions, which has been a staple of the single-player Elder Scrolls games and are a welcome addition for those of us who like to play solo or in small groups, and revamped the champion points system, for better or for worse. Along with the Deadlands DLC came the armory system, which added much-needed loadout switching. Not to mention the fact that I thought that this year’s story was much stronger than last year’s. Yet somehow, it seems like none of these releases or quality of life updates generated the kind of hype that previous releases did.

Eliot Lefebvre: All right, I have some beef with Star Wars The Old Republic. But darn it, the game’s latest expansion is bringing changes that we’ve needed for years within the game, and I don’t feel the need to grade on a curve. Good on you, SWTOR.

Justin Olivetti: Elder Scrolls Online, Lord of the Rings Online for giving us mid-tier content, a huge expansion, a new class, and a lot of additional releases. Plus, getting a producer who actually advocates and communicates was a massive improvement in and of itself.

Tyler Edwards: I feel like Star Wars: The Old Republic might have deserved this because the changes in Legacy of the Sith seem very positive, but that got delayed, so instead, I voted for ESO on the basis of companions and the armory system.

Elder Scrolls Online took our award for Most Improved MMO. What’s your pick?

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

  • Elder Scrolls Online (22%, 214 Votes)
  • Black Desert (5%, 49 Votes)
  • SWTOR (11%, 104 Votes)
  • LOTRO (6%, 57 Votes)
  • Guild Wars 2 (12%, 112 Votes)
  • Blade and Soul (0%, 4 Votes)
  • Albion Online (3%, 33 Votes)
  • ArcheAge (1%, 10 Votes)
  • Phantasy Star Online 2 (1%, 9 Votes)
  • World of Warcraft (1%, 14 Votes)
  • Final Fantasy XIV (20%, 195 Votes)
  • Lineage II (0%, 0 Votes)
  • EVE Online (1%, 8 Votes)
  • Neverwinter (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Star Trek Online (1%, 7 Votes)
  • DC Universe Online (0%, 3 Votes)
  • RuneScape (2%, 23 Votes)
  • Elite Dangerous (1%, 6 Votes)
  • Dungeons and Dragons Online (2%, 15 Votes)
  • EverQuest II (1%, 7 Votes)
  • No Man's Sky (4%, 41 Votes)
  • PlanetSide 2 (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Nothing (4%, 37 Votes)
  • Something else (tell us in the comments!) (1%, 14 Votes)

Total Voters: 863

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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 released, live MMOs we thought had a chance.
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