Looking back at the past twelve months of online gaming has become an annual holiday tradition for the team at Ten Ton Hammer. While many families gather to decorate trees, consume liberal amounts of eggnog, or squint sideways at one another, our family gathers to deliberate on our best gaming experiences of the past twelve months.
Even though 2013 will long be remembered as a year dominated by the looming presence of new console hardware, the promise of crowd-funded gaming bliss, and more franchise sequels than you could shake a stick at, it was also a fantastic year for online gaming.
A number of major triple-A titles may have delayed their launch dates until after all the console hardware hullabaloo subsided, but a fresh crop of kick-ass games still made their mark on 2013. Soft launches also somewhat dominated the year, as the MMO industry temporarily shifted away from a boxed copy sales model in favor of going truly free-to-play. As a result, many of the biggest titles of the year went live with a bit less hype and fanfare than we've come to expect over the years.
What follows are Ten Ton Hammer's top picks for 2013; those titles that sparkled so brightly as to be worthy of receiving one of our highly coveted Best of 2013 awards. Each award was granted based on the knowledgeable opinions of our expert staff, most of whom have been deeply involved in the MMO industry since its initial inception. So join us as we take a look back at the best of the best that online gaming has had to offer us over the past year!
The MMO industry may still be dominated by pointy wizard hats, dungeon crawls, and hotbar combat, but the past few years have born witness to the mighty MMOFPS revolution. Given that even single-player FPS franchises are largely judged by their multiplayer modes in this day and age, it really comes as no surprise that the lines between MMO and FPS have begun to blur.
Even as the concept of the MMOFPS has taken root in various forms, it became obvious that the franchise that helped birth the genre in the first place is still the clear leader of the pack. While there were a few worthy contenders, when it came down to selecting our Best MMOFPS of 2013 one game continued to blow us away on all fronts.
The hallmarks of a great action RPG boil down to a few basic things. Highly addictive gameplay, an even higher amount of character build options, and dynamic environments are just a few of the things we look for in the genre. And let's not forget the seemingly never ending quest for killer loot!
Our pick for Best Action RPG of 2013 excels in each of those areas, and neatly draws us into the world of an existing IP in interesting, new ways. It neatly marries the action of the genre with the immersion of an RPG, all wrapped in a distinctly MMO-flavored wrapper.
Major game updates and content patches are always great, but theres really nothing quite like the massive content drop of a proper expansion. They allow established games to reinvent themselves time and again, and give diehard MMO gamers ample reasons to latch onto favorite virtual worlds for the long haul.
For our Best Expansion of 2013, there was a lot of fierce competition, but at the end of the day, one expansion in particular grabbed our attention and seemingly wouldnt let go.
When it comes to online gaming, community truly is king. No matter how immersive the storytelling, graphics, or combat systems may be, at the end of the day many games only truly thrive thanks to the strengths of a solid community.
One MMO in particular has managed to serve both as a rallying point for fans of a much beloved IP, and also as a catalyst for a great community to emerge. When it came down to selecting our top pick for Best Community of 2013, it didn't take us very long to determine our ultimate victor.
A rocky launch is often the kiss of death for just about any MMO, and few ever manage to truly recover. Occasionally, however, the development team is willing to do whatever it takes to turn a potential defeat into a major success story for the industry.
That was certainly the case with our pick for Best Reinvention of 2013. While this award has been granted to other titles in previous years, our winner for 2013 is the embodiment of what it means to truly reinvent such a complex game as an MMO and turn it into one of the biggest success stories of the year.
The core gameplay in any given MMO is ultimately what keeps us coming back and playing over longer periods of time. Sure, flashy combat systems, awesome graphics, and immersive quest lines may each play their part, but the greater whole is what prompts us to continue logging into our favorite games.
Determining our winner for Best Gameplay of 2013 was a daunting task, as there were a number of games this year that pulled us in and seemingly wouldn't let go. But at the end of the day, one game in particular rose above the competition thanks to a seemingly never ending fount of interesting things to do and ways to interact with the game world.
The process of determining our Best MMO of 2013 really began many months ago. As each new game world came to life, we couldn't help but weigh its strengths and weaknesses against what we consider to be the best virtual world currently available to gamers.
As the year progressed, it became increasingly clear that one MMO continues to dominate the industry, and pave the way for even greater things to come. It encompasses the best of what MMO gaming has to offer across a broad spectrum; from gameplay, to community, to competitive play and beyond, the winner of our Best MMO of 2013 award is truly the best of the best.