The Ten Ton Hammer Best of 2013 Awards

Join us for the Best of 2013 Awards at Ten Ton Hammer as we look back at the titles that made 2013 an awesome year for online gamers.

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.

While a number of worthy contenders tossed their hats into the ring this year, Planetside 2 continues to dominate the MMOFPS genre. Sony Online Entertainment has shown the world how online shooters should be done, and Planetside 2 remains the top dog in our books.

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.

Marvel Heroes has turned into an unstoppable juggernaut in the Action RPG space thanks to a combination of highly addictive gameplay, kick-ass combat, and an ever-expanding list of great heroes to play. It's quickly become one of our most played games of the year - regardless of genre.

Major game updates and content patches are always great, but there’s 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 wouldn’t let go.

Featuring a new class, nine dungeons and one overland realm, and even more Alternate Advancement options for players, Tears of Veeshan continues a long tradition of awesome expansions for EverQuest II. The introduction of Heroic Characters just prior to the expansion’s launch, while not part of the expansion proper, helped gamers get into the new content far faster than the norm. ToV also serves up a neat slice of storytelling that has always been one of the franchises greatest strengths.

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.

When it comes to kick-ass MMO communities, the rabid fans of Lord of the Rings Online are second to none. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more welcoming, helpful, and knowledgeable group of gamers anywhere else in the industry.

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.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn didn't simply repackage and relaunch the original game. Instead, systems were rebuilt from the ground up, the gameplay was tightened and polished, and most of all the developers listened to the feedback of their fans to help transform ARR into the game it was always meant to be.

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.

Neverwinter is one of those rare games that provides an awesome gaming experience regardless of your overall time investment or engagement level. Whether you've only got 30 minutes to dive in for some fun, or plan to spend an entire weekend delving into dungeons with your friends, or even want to make your own dungeons, Neverwinter neatly provides some of the best overall gameplay the industry has to offer.

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.

When it came to selecting our Best MMO of 2013, there was little debate amongst our writing team. We all agreed that Guild Wars 2 remains the industry leader and is the one MMO that we all consider to be most worthy of our biggest award of the year. While the core game is still one of the best we've seen in recent years, the team at ArenaNet has continued to impress us and turn a lot of heads in the industry with its unprecedented series of Living Story updates.

Not only has the PvE in Guild Wars 2 continued to evolve throughout the year, but ArenaNet has left no stone unturned through a series of regular improvements and refinement to both competitive PvP and the massive World versus World system. It's for these reasons and many more that Guild Wars 2 was selected as our Best MMO of 2013, a title held by the game now for two consecutive years.

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About The Author

Reuben "Sardu" Waters has been writing professionally about the MMOG industry for eight years, and is the current Editor-in-Chief and Director of Development for Ten Ton Hammer.

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