Best of Bio Break 2013: MMOs

bestThe Best of Bio Break 2013 is a series of “end of the year” lists that talk about various forms of entertainment that I enjoyed this year.  They’re not awards, but they are ranked.  Each entry doesn’t have to be something that came out this year, but merely something I encountered this year.

TSW_Issue_6_insertSo let’s jaw about MMOs today whynot.  As I’ve mentioned a while back, it wasn’t the most thrilling year if you were just looking for majorly anticipated AAA releases.  We’re kind of in an “in-between” period marking the span from Guild Wars 2/Star Wars: The Old Republic and the upcoming crop of EverQuest Next/WildStar/The Elder Scrolls Online (among others).  This meant that 2013 saw generally smaller releases, but still a respectable number of updates and expansions.  Here’s what I enjoyed playing most over the year.

1. The Secret World

No big surprise here, right?  I’ve been playing TSW non-stop since launch and its unique approach to MMOs and compelling setting have made it irresistable for me.  I love the adventures of our Monday evening crew as well as my own journey through the game.  I feel like I’m coming out of the year with a much better grasp of the game’s intricacies, and I really can’t wait for Tokyo to release.

I don’t think there’s ever been another MMO that’s both frustrated and delighted me on the scale that TSW has, and I’ll take that conflicting experience over safe, predictable titles any day.

2. Guild Wars 2

While right now I’m on a sabbatical from Tyria, I’m not going to ignore the fact that I spent a gob of time in GW2 over the year.  It’s still one of the best jump-in-and-jump-out games on the market, not to mention one of the most beautiful.  I’m still of a somewhat negative opinion of its living story approach, but the rest of the game provided me with hours and hours of fun.  Big thumbs up to some of the feature additions, such as LFG, the achievement panel, and the currency wallet.

3. Lord of the Rings Online

LOTRO didn’t begin the year well with me at all.  I very nearly burned out on this game about five or six times, especially toward the final months of Wildermore.  However, the expansion has been a great ride so far and rejuvenated my interest in the game, so I’m heading into 2014 with my horse head held high.

4. RIFT

RIFT, I think, will be one of those games I’ll keep coming back to over and over again.  There’s so much to like here, yet it’s still lacking that “sticky” element to keep me around for more than a couple months in a row.  Great F2P transition, I must say — one of the best out there.  I’m glad that it won’t cost anything to visit again.  I did enjoy going through Storm Legion on my Cleric, although I felt it was a little too long and missing some of the distinctiveness of the earlier zones.

5. Neverwinter

This has been a very strange title for me.  I was looking forward to it a lot — so much so that I had a bi-weekly column for it at Massively for a while — but my interest crashed about a month after launch.  However, news of module 2 got me back, and I’ve been playing it very regularly for a month now.  For what it is, this game is a pretty fun ride — an MMO without a lot of the baggage that I see elsewhere.

Other mentions:

  • Star Trek Online got me back for a little while around its expansion launch, but I wasn’t feeling it this time around.  Not that the changes were bad or anything; quite the opposite.
  • Fallen Earth was pleasant to revisit and part of me really wishes I had the proper time to devote to this game.  But I’m just not going to play it halfway, so to my recycle bin it went.
  • Marvel Heroes is a pretty good Diablo clone that’s still floating around on my desktop.  I even logged in the other week to play Rocket Raccoon, because what other game lets me dual wield pistols with a garbage-eating pest?
  • World of Warcraft got a time-limited trial revisit or two, but… yeah, it just reaffirmed that I’m done with this game.  And that’s OK, we’ll always have the Deadmines.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic tempted me back with the expansion, but man this game wore out its welcome with me.  As good as the stories are, when you hate the classes and the combat mechanics, it’s not worth the pain.
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4 thoughts on “Best of Bio Break 2013: MMOs

  1. Hooray for TSW! I think you have an apt description of it: frustrating and delightful, sometimes simultaneously. I played several of the same games, in varying amounts, and TSW is the only one that has stuck. Scooter and I are trying out EQ2 for the first time (as our alternate), in the interlude between the now-old guard and the upcoming titles.

  2. “I don’t think there’s ever been another MMO that’s both frustrated and delighted me on the scale that TSW has, and I’ll take that conflicting experience over safe, predictable titles any day.”

    Excellent nutshell description of TSW right there. I don’t think any other game has caused me to spend so much time barking obscenities at my monitor, but yet I can’t get enough.

    For my part, my other big MMO this year was, of course, still WoW, but I spent less time with it this year than I have since I started playing. Much as I love the aesthetics of Pandaria and the long overdue return to a darker and more mature style of storytelling, a lot of the recent design decisions have really sucked the fun out of actually playing that game, and I’m growing increasingly tired of Blizzard’s commitment to finding new and exciting ways to sit on their own balls.

    I’d also give an honourable mention to Neverwinter, even though I’ve only been playing it seriously since Shadowmantle released. It’s a weird game, and there’s a lot about it I find very off-putting, but the awesome potential of the Foundry and the best archer class I’ve ever played have roped me in. For now, anyway.

  3. That is a great description of TSW. Many times, in investigative missions or just how to take down an enemy, I’ve hit my head against plenty of walls. However, finally having my head break through the wall gives that delicious euphoric gaming high that is so rare nowadays. The fight makes the reward that much sweeter. :)

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