MassivelyOP’s 2023 Awards: Most Underrated MMORPG

    
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Welcome one and all to Massively Overpowered’s formal end-of-the-year awards, our multi-week celebration of everything good (and bad) the genre bestowed upon us this over the last dozen months.

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 nine years nowwe’ve been splitting our awards into individual posts, the better to explain our nominations and consensus process. This year marks our 10th effort at this style of awards! We also include unofficial reader’s polls at the end so we can compare our picks with yours. Expect another award every day through (almost) the end of the month, all leading up to our MMORPG of the year.

Today’s award is for the Most Underrated MMO of 2023, which was awarded to Elder Scrolls 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. 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 Underrated MMORPG of 2023 is…

NEW WORLD

​​Andrew Ross: Orna. Can you tell they won me over more this year? It’s no FFXIV or ESO, but if you’re on the go a lot and need a fix that often doesn’t require a ton of mental work, Orna’s a good one.

Andy McAdams: New World, LOTRO. I picked up LOTRO for the first time this year and it was a lot of fun and did a lot really well for a game world that’s “magic but just kidding you can’t actually have any but really you can we just call it something else and all pretend real hard.” And I think New World still gets a lot of crap because gamers. But it’s done a lot over the last year, and AGS has shown a real dedication to keeping it going and making it better. I can’t think of another game that would fit this quite as well as New World does.

Brianna Royce: New World, Albion Online, Black Desert. I know New World isn’t everyone’s cup of tea – it’s not really mine either – but objectively, I think the game finally arrived this year, and it wasn’t just because it pumped out another expansion. It was because Amazon settled into a seasonal cadence, found a monetization strategy, buffed the heck out of its comms, and finally added what everyone wanted: mounts. Like, really good mounts.

Carlo Lacsina: Black Desert. BDO isn’t going to be winning any major awards this year, and I think I was the only one on staff that put some time into it this year. Heck, I don’t think I put as much time as I usually do in this game this year either. Black Desert Online is still a great game. They’ve made changes to make things more PvE-friendly; there are more ways to progress to getting PEN gear for at least one character. There are multiple ways to experience the story too; players can play through the original storyline, the mountain of eternal winter storyline, or the Land of the Morning light. There’s been a bunch of updates to lifeskills as well. The overall experience has improved, even from just a year ago.

Chris Neal: Star Trek Online, Wayfinder, Foxhole. This was the year when Foxhole put out an out-of-nowhere naval update that expanded an already significantly deep MMO warfare title with sea combat, multi-crew ships, and all of the command and logistics those entail. Seeing it in action in videos has impressed, and Foxhole continues to feel like it’s doing the thing that games like PlanetSide 2 want to do but can’t.

Colin Henry: Elder Scrolls Online, New World. Rise of the Angry Earth brought some great features, including a much-needed new healing and tanking weapon and even more-needed mounts, but even before that, New World had been on a positive trajectory for a while now. Amazon Games continues to put in the work to make New World a high-quality MMORPG to compete with the big dogs. If you gave up on this game during its rough launch, it’s time to take a second look.

Eliot Lefebvre: New World. My general feeling for what should get the “underrated” vote is usually a game that I think is rated around a “C” but deserves to be an “A.” I don’t think that’s true of New World, but I think after the genuinely dedicated work that’s been put into the game this year, it’s still kind of seen as a D and should be around a C+. Maybe even a B-. It wouldn’t have been my first pick or even in my top 10 picks most years, but this year is weird in a fun way, and that means it deserves to be seen for this.

Justin Olivetti: WoW Classic era saw a surprising comeback in 2023 long after Blizzard kind of wrote it off. But the players latched onto this era as regular Classic and Retail keep barreling forward, preferring to have their fun in a very specific window of time for this MMO. Seeing the success of Hardcore Classic and the work on Season of Discovery shows that even Blizzard sees the obvious popularity blooming here.

MJ Guthrie: New World. I still think Star Trek Online is too underrated. It really needs more attention, for everything from the story it continually adds to all the freebies folks can snap up from events. And come on, Q’s Winter Wonderland is still one of the best holiday zones. One the other hand, even though I never considered going back and playing it after it lost my attention a while back, New World seems to keep getting better as time goes by lately. So it deserves the attention for a deep second look from folks.

Sam Kash: Harry Potter Magic Awakened. Gamers are absolutely sleeping on it. It’s a good game despite everything.

Tyler Edwards: New World’s perception continues to be unfairly dragged down by memories of what it was like at launch, and I think Aion and Star Trek: Online are also perennially underrated games.

New World took our award for Most Underrated MMORPG. What’s your pick?

Reader poll: What was the most underrated MMO of 2023?

  • New World (17%, 147 Votes)
  • Black Desert (4%, 35 Votes)
  • WoW Classic (5%, 45 Votes)
  • Lord of the Rings Online (16%, 143 Votes)
  • Star Trek Online (5%, 41 Votes)
  • Albion Online (2%, 21 Votes)
  • Wayfinder (1%, 11 Votes)
  • Elder Scrolls Online (6%, 53 Votes)
  • Foxhole (1%, 11 Votes)
  • Orna (0%, 4 Votes)
  • HPMA (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Aion (0%, 4 Votes)
  • EVE Online (3%, 24 Votes)
  • Neverwinter (1%, 9 Votes)
  • SWTOR (7%, 66 Votes)
  • Mortal Online 2 (1%, 10 Votes)
  • RuneScape (2%, 21 Votes)
  • Blade and Soul (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Phantasy Star Online 2 (1%, 9 Votes)
  • Dungeons and Dragons Online (4%, 37 Votes)
  • DC Universe Online (2%, 15 Votes)
  • Embers Adrift (2%, 19 Votes)
  • PlanetSide 2 (2%, 14 Votes)
  • EverQuest II (5%, 40 Votes)
  • Lost Ark (2%, 15 Votes)
  • Project Gorgon (added by popular request) (3%, 27 Votes)
  • Something else (tell us in the comments!) (7%, 62 Votes)

Total Voters: 754

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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 commentary from writers so that you can see our thought process. 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. Reader poll options include all MMOs nominated plus a few others we thought should be included.
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