Massively OP’s 2021 Awards: Not-So-Massively Game of the Year


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

Today’s award is for the Not-So-Massively Game of the Year for 2021, which was awarded to Genshin Impact and Animal Crossing New Horizons 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 titles that launched before this year, 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 is…


Andrew Ross: Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Andy McAdams: Valheim. Who doesn’t love being a viking? It’s a game that just works. It’s fun and rewarding and gives enough to do in game to keep you occupied forever.

Brianna Royce: I voted for Valheim because nothing blew up while skirting the MMO line so hard this year. It surprised me to see a de facto survival sandbox emerge in 2021 and actually do well, but it turns out the the gaming populace is still perfectly willing to reward quality.

Carlo Lacsina: Animal Crossing New Horizons. Any game that gets my wife excited and helps us get closer is game of the year material to me!

Chris Neal: Valheim. I got to be a cart horse. Emergent gameplay! Also an illustration of the kind of freedom and collaboration that a good survival sandbox can provide – one that doesn’t throw up stupid limitations in the way and let’s people come together and have fun. Valheim is easily the best of an otherwise extremely bad (to me) sub-genre.

Colin Henry: Valheim.

Eliot Lefebvre: Valheim. Look, you can’t avoid the impact that this little viking game has had on the overall zeitgeist and the way that it’s kept its place even when bigger games have come along since it first launched. Besides, what other game is likely to kill you with trees?

Justin Olivetti: Wildermyth is an amazing tabletop-style RPG with more “RP” and tales than you’d expect. It bowls over everyone who tries it — myself included — and comes with a co-op option for its campaigns. I’ll also toss a vote in for Fallout 76 for working hard to earn players’ respect by continually improving.

Mia DeSanzo: No Man’s Sky.

Tyler Edwards: Iron Harvest 1920 and Age of Empires IV. Iron Harvest’s Operation Eagle campaign was just spectacular, and it’s one of those games where I just want to shout from the rooftops how good it is. So underrated. Meanwhile AoE4 managed to deliver a really tight and satisfactory experience in the face of almost crushing expectations based on the storied history of the franchise.

Valheim took our award for Not-So-Massively Game of the Year. What’s your pick?

Reader poll: What was the best Not-So-Massively game of 2021?

  • Valheim (36%, 205 Votes)
  • Animal Crossing New Horizons (4%, 21 Votes)
  • Fallout 76 (4%, 25 Votes)
  • Wildermyth (5%, 26 Votes)
  • No Man's Sky (8%, 43 Votes)
  • Iron Harvest 1920 (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Age of Empires IV (2%, 11 Votes)
  • Dauntless (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Warframe (5%, 26 Votes)
  • Path of Exile (2%, 12 Votes)
  • Diablo 2 Resurrected (3%, 17 Votes)
  • Genshin Impact (5%, 28 Votes)
  • Pokemon Go (0%, 0 Votes)
  • World of Warships (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Overwatch (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Diablo III (1%, 4 Votes)
  • League of Legends (1%, 7 Votes)
  • Legends of Runeterra (1%, 4 Votes)
  • Hearthstone (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Conan Exiles (2%, 14 Votes)
  • Red Dead Online (1%, 7 Votes)
  • Apex Legends (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Astroneer (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Sea of Thieves (1%, 8 Votes)
  • Fortnite (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Destiny 2 (2%, 12 Votes)
  • The Division 2 (2%, 11 Votes)
  • PUBG (0%, 0 Votes)
  • ARK Survival Evolved (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Monster Hunter World (2%, 11 Votes)
  • Wolcen (1%, 4 Votes)
  • Valorant (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Pikmin Bloom (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Aliens Fire Team Elite (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Halo Infinite (4%, 25 Votes)
  • Foxhole (0%, 2 Votes)
  • The Endlisted (0%, 0 Votes)
  • SMITE (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Paladins (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Atlas (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Warhammer Odyssey (0%, 1 Votes)
  • War Thunder (1%, 3 Votes)
  • World of Tanks (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Something else (tell us in the comments!) (3%, 16 Votes)

Total Voters: 466

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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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