As the year comes to an end we begin to reflect back on the months passed, 2013 has been quite a year in the MMO industry that has seen many releases. With so many MMOs being released, not every game can be a winner, so here are my Top 5 Fantasy MMOs of 2013!
5. Path of Exile
Path of Exile is an Action RPG(think of a Diablo or Torchlight) which means you will be fighting against hordes of enemies with the bashing of your mouse and keyboard to unleash some deadly moves and have fun doing it. Path of Exile is all about killing, surviving and of course loot!
So why has this game made the list instead of my other favorite MMOs of 2013? Well, first off the game looks awesome and is insanely detailed, also the setting is very mature and dark; definitely a horror themed game. The animations are smooth and the action is solid. There is enough content available to last quite a while and the game is continuously growing as patches are frequently released.
Perhaps the biggest reason why this game is so appealing is that there is a solid amount of options to refine your character and define your play style. While most games these days go for a streamlined approach, Path of Exile was developed for the hardcore gamers. There is a huge talent tree available right from the get-go; skills are stones that you can equip in your gear rather than being bound to your characters class. This means you can start off as a witch and become a tank or start as a barbarian and become a spell casting cleric. It is also worth noting that maps are randomly generated so there is always somewhere new to explore!
Path of Exile is free-to-play, if you are a fan of ARPG’s check it out!
Neverwinter is one of the pleasant surprises of 2013! Neverwinter is a fantasy MMORPG with an arcade-styled combat system and player created content, making it worth its place on my list.
Being a Dungeons & Dragons game, Neverwinter takes place in the Forgotten Realms in and around the city of Neverwinter (Yes, Neverwinter is all about Neverwinter). The storyline is great and all of the classes are fun to play with their own unique style and mechanics. The only downside to Neverwinter is that the developers are playing it safe, the game is very streamlined and there isn’t much room for exploration or experimentation.
As an action MMORPG Neverwinter is rather easy, but on the other hand there is a foundry system that allows players to create their own levels and content. The foundry can also be used to level and advance through the game, so you do have options. It is also worth noting that even though you do not have that many options to define your play style, combat feels solid and fluid with a lot of action.
Neverwinter is definitely worth a shot if you are into fantasy MMORPGs and perhaps more so if you are a fan of the Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms setting.
3. Guild Wars 2
This one is a no-brainer, not only was it the most anticipated MMORPG release of this year but Guild Wars 2 is also known for trying to break the mold by doing things differently. First off, there are no regular quests beside the main storyline which has a follow up every two levels or so and leads all the way to the level cap and beyond.
So how does Guild Wars 2 try and break the mold of the standard MMORPG? Instead of offering a load of side quests for the players to level players have to go out there and explore. You gain experience points by exploring and finding vistas which are usually reached by doing some sort of platforming. Other ways to level include completing hearts(think of these as quests but then in a fixed area usually with various tasks the more you help the more this “heart” meter will fill up and upon maxing it you gain experience and points) and doing dynamic content that happens all over the world.
There is also Lobby based PvP and World vs World for the die-hard PvPers. Both are accessible right from the beginning of the game. This works great and feels balanced.
Now you might be wondering why I used the terms “trying” and “try”, this is because I think it doesn’t really work just yet. For example the game seems to be designed in such a way that if you have completed all the content there is on a map there is no reason for you to return to that area. There is little to nothing to do there, which lead to maps getting deserted and that leads to problems for the small amount of players that are still playing on those maps. Take the dynamic content for example, you can’t easily solo this content and with a small amount of players on the map you are often not able to complete it. This is in my opinion is the biggest flaw of Guild Wars 2. Also the dynamic events don’t really feel very dynamic anymore when they constantly happen over and over in a loop.
Don’t get me wrong Guild Wars 2 is a great game; it just has some flaws like all games. Guild Wars 2 is buy-to-play, once you purchase the game there is never going to be any sort of subscription fee. Check it out!
2. TERA: Rising
My second favorite fantasy MMO of 2013 has to be TERA online. Even though it was originally released back in 2012, TERA has decided to go free-to-play this year after a huge content update.
Why is TERA such a good game? First off it looks fantastic! TERA really shows the power of the Unreal Engine 3, it is a non-target action MMORPG and in my personal opinion is still the best in its class. Instead of just pressing your skill you will actually have to take aim in order to hit or avoid attacks.
The fact that TERA makes this work in a non-instanced, persistent open world is just amazing. There are instanced dungeons available of course and those are fantastic experiences, but the rest of TERA is an open world filled with players questing and killing monsters. The open-world bosses called BAMs (Big ass monsters) are also a ton of fun to take down, these are really big monsters and hit hard! So you have to take extra care to ensure victory!
The rest of TERA is like a standard MMORPG, questing, leveling and gearing up. Perhaps the biggest flaw of TERA is that there is only one way to progress through the content, you don’t have much say in where you are going to level. The game does open up at end-game though.
TERA is a solid hybrid of standard MMORPG and action combat, does that sound like your thing? Check it out it’s free!
1. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Best Fantasy MMO of 2013 so far? Easy! Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. After the disaster that was FFXIV 1.0, Square Enix decided to remake the game and this time the effort paid off.
Final Fantasy XIV or FFXIV for short is a fairly traditional MMORPG that brings in some new elements from recent games such as a cross-server dungeon finder, dynamic events or being able to play all classes on a single character.
Despite being a traditional MMORPG in 2013 FFXIV is a brilliant game, as you progress through the realm of Eorzea the difficulty keeps ramping up and the game keeps getting more challenging. As you progress and level, advancing through the main storyline, the challenges require you to know your game!
The main storyline is also very interesting and could have worked in a single player final fantasy game. There is a wide range of classes with specialized jobs available.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn offers you a lot of freedom after the introduction, this is a game where you can do what you want. You can play any class on a single character and switch back and forth whenever you feel like it and these classes aren’t just battle classes, there are also a few gathering classes and ones for crafts too.
There are also a lot of dungeons, each with different mechanics. The early dungeons already have mechanics that match end-game dungeons in other MMORPGs, and this is fantastic! The game also does not seem to drop the ball as every new dungeon seems to bring its own new mechanics.
FFXIV is a traditional MMORPG with some new elements, if that is not your thing then that’s not going to change. It is also worth noting that the dialogue of the game is amazing and full of puns and jokes, it is really worth reading!
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is a subscription-based MMORPG, if you are interested I would advise you to read and watch some reviews before buying the game.
And that would be it! What is your personal favorite of 2013? Leave a comment below!