Welcome ladies, gentlemen, and fellow humanoids. ItÂs that time of year once again for our annual Best of E3 Awards!
We werenÂt quite sure what to expect heading into E3 this year given the strong emphasis on the shiny new PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles. PC still reigns supreme when it comes to MMOs, but a number of developers also announced plans of releasing on one or both of the new boxes, both for existing and upcoming titles.
The show turned out to be one of the best in recent memory, and none of it would be possible were it not for the developers and publishers who make the magic happen. To all who participated weÂd like to extend a hearty thanks for making E3 2013 one for the history books.
In years past, there have been a number of predominant themes when it comes to the ever changing landscape of the MMO industry. First there was the shift towards the action-RPG inspired combat systems, followed in quick succession by the rise of the MMOFPS and free-to-play as the de facto business model of choice.
This year marks an aggressive shift towards both innovation and a return to the things that have helped make MMOs so great in the first place. Core MMO gamers have a lot to be excited about, as many of the titles we saw and played showed a level of depth to gameplay that we havenÂt seen in nearly a decade.
The other predominant theme of E3 this year is an increasing diversification of what really constitutes that core MMO experience. The one-size-fits-all template is beginning to give way to a rising number of truly unique experiences. The central concept of a community-driven virtual world remains intact, but the activities you can participate in those spaces has finally begun to diversify, and we totally dig what weÂre seeing in this regard.
So join us as we celebrate the best of what the MMO industry had to offer at the expo this year with the Ten Ton Hammer Best of E3 2013 Awards!
The white whale we regularly chase each year during E3 is gameplay. We play a lot of games during an event on this scale, and while many will leave their hooks in us for different reasons, at the end of the day it's all about the fun factor that solid gameplay provides.
We know that the gameplay for a given title is compelling when our hands-on time leaves us eager to continue the experience long after weÂve left the demo station. This yearÂs winner was one of the select few titles that fit the bill, and saw us eagerly scampering back to play again whenever time allowed in our busy schedule.
The overall depth of the experience, responsive combat, slick animations, and sheer volume of ways you can interact with the game world made this year's pick an obvious choice.
Ten Ton Hammer's Best Gameplay of E3 2013 Award goes to...
The team at Carbine has proven that you donÂt necessarily have to sink tons of precious marketing dollars behind a game at E3 to make an impact. While the flashing lights and cosplayers in tights can add a lot of show floor ambiance, at the end of the day itÂs all about how fun your game is to play.
So what WildStar might not have had in a flashy booth display, it more than made up for with the best gameplay we were able to get our hands on at this yearÂs E3. Everything from the distinctive setting and art style, to the combat and sheer depth of gameplay options are worthy of high praise.
More WildStar E3 coverage from Ten Ton Hammer:
As MMO gamers, we've grown accustomed to the concept of respawning after being defeated in combat. At the same time, when an MMO doesn't stand the test of time, it's not all that often that they're given a second lease on life.
The real trick of the MMO respawn is giving gamers a reason to give it another chance, so slapping on a new title and a suite of bug fixes simply won't do. For all intents and purposes, you have to go back to the drawing board to properly address the things that gamers are looking for in any worthy new game purhcase. This year's recipient of our Best Respawn award did exactly that, largely rebuilding the entire game from the ground up, and from what we've seen so far, the results were well worth the effort.
Ten Ton Hammer's Best Respawn of E3 2013 Award goes to...
Very few MMOs have managed to survive following a rocky launch, and fewer still have managed to successfully relaunch after the fact. Square Enix is attempting to do exactly that with Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, and from what we experienced at E3 2013 the game is certainly worthy of our Best Respawn award.
While the game still retains its distinctive look and feel, nearly every aspect of the game has been rebuilt into a tighter, faster, and more cohesive overall MMO experience. While they didnÂt necessarily attempt to reinvent the MMO combat wheel, our experiences with the system displayed a clear refinement of what made more traditional hotbar combat so enticing in the first place.
More FFXIV: A Realm Reborn E3 coverage from Ten Ton Hammer:
A lot of planning and coordination goes into an event like E3 each year, even for those of us on the media side of the fence. Most of the time we'll roll our mobile command center into the event knowing who we'll be meeting and which games we'll be playing well in advance.
Occasionally, however, we're thrown a curveball or two and be just as surprised as the rest of the gaming world by major announcements or game reveals. This was one of those years, and the icing on the cake is that the game - from what we've been shown so far - looks to be worthy of all the attention being heaped upon it.
Ten Ton Hammer's Biggest Surprise of E3 2013 Award goes to...
Warhammer 40k is one of those golden IPs that has the potential to translate into one killer MMO experience. Games Workshop clearly understands this potential, so when the originally planned game from THQ fell by the wayside, it was only a matter of time before a new developer would pick up the reigns.
A week before E3 this would have landed squarely in the realm of speculation, to say we were surprised by the event week announcement of the Eternal Crusade MMO would be a gross understatement. It clearly took gamers by surprise as well, with Warhammer 40k being one of the most talked about announcements to come out of the expo.
More Warhammer 40k: Eternal Crusade E3 coverage from Ten Ton Hammer:
- Exclusive Warhammer 40k: Eternal Crusade Interview
- Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade Preliminary Speculation
- New Warhammer 40k MMO Revealed at E3 2013
Let's face it; as long-time MMO gamers, many of us have grown pretty bored playing the same exact games packaged in different branding wrappers year after year. Deep down we know that MMOs have the potential to be so much more, but given the expense of making one of these games, most publishers and developers tend to stick with the safe bet of iterating on what's proven successful before.
While certain gameplay elements have seen some hefty iteration over the years, we're often hoping that new games will bring us some true innovation in the MMO space. As luck would have it, we were given an excellent preview of one game at E3 this year with aims to achieve exactly that.
Ten Ton Hammer's Most Innovative of E3 2013 Award goes to...
Proper sandbox MMOs are only as good as the depth of the toolbox given to gamers, and from what weÂve seen of ArcheAge that box is deeper than any other sandbox MMO we've seen to date. The fact that ArcheAge comes packed with stellar graphics is just icing on the proveribial cake.
ArcheAge offers a true multiclassing system, the ability to turn your back on the major factions and live the pirate's life, or simply live out your virutal days as a humble farmer or trader of goods. These things may sound fairly basic on the surface, but the ways in which you can interact with the world for each are both plentiful and inspiring. Expect big things from ArcheAge once it lands on North American shores.
More ArcheAge E3 coverage from Ten Ton Hammer:
While MMOs are obviously our bread and butter here on Ten Ton Hammer, each year at E3 we seek out games worthy of high praise regardless of genre classifications. For example, in previous years we've tipped our award hats to some of the best RPGs and single-player games shown at the event.
Given the strong multiplayer and community focused elements of MOBAs, in many ways they've become distant cousins of MMOs, albeit with a very distinctive competitive angle.
Ten Ton Hammer's Best MOBA of E3 2013 Award goes to...
While Turbine may be known by many for their major contributions in the MMO space, we've been pleasantly surprised by our experiences with Infinite Crisis so far. Many aspects of the game hold true to what excites gamers about the genere in the first place, but Infinite Crisis also brings a lot of new gameplay hooks to the table. And you have to admit, the DC universe setting and characters offer a pretty killer framework to build upon.
Infinite Crisis is shaping up to be an excellent game, and will even be taking the full MLG eSports plunge. We expect big things from the game, and are sure that Infinite Crisis will bring some stiff new competition to the wide world of MOBAs.
More Infinite Crisis E3 coverage from Ten Ton Hammer:
We genuinely look forward to getting our hands on just about every MMO released each year; that's just the kind of major MMO gaming nerds we are around these parts.
However, certain titles simply command our attention above all others to become a staple of many discussions amongst the Team Hammer staff. These will often be the games that inspire cosmic arm wrestling matches to decide who gets to play them at events, and plenty of late night theorycrafting sessions on the possibilities in between. This year's Most Anticipated award goes to a game that we're fairly certain has landed squarely on the top of the most anticipated lists of legions of gamers as well.
Ten Ton Hammer's Most Anticipated of E3 2013 Award goes to...
If absence makes the heart grow fonder, then by the time the cross-platform launch for ESO rolls around in the spring of 2014, itÂs probably safe to say that legions of gamers will be enthralled by the next great chapter in Elder Scrolls history.
We've had numerous chances to play the game throughout the year so far, and our hands-on time at E3 only helped solidify Elder Scrolls Online as our most anticipated game following this year's event. In the immortal words of Wesley Willis, ESO whips the llama's ass by offering the best of both worlds: an awesome Elder Scrolls game with all the gameplay hooks that help make MMOs great.
More Elder Scrolls Online E3 coverage from Ten Ton Hammer:
- The Elder Scrolls Online: In the Beginning
- The Elder Scrolls Online Announced for Playstation 4 and Xbox One
- Matt Firor Talks Cross-Platform and Launch Delay for Elder Scrolls Online
As with most genres in gaming, the MMO industry has largely latched onto a central framework or template thatÂs become synonymous with MMO gameplay. Over time weÂve seen plenty of iteration on key areas of that template, and witnessed a lot of forward thinking when it comes to everything from combat to questing. However, a true generational leap forward has been a long time coming.
Heading into E3 2013 we knew the competition for our attention would be fierce, as there were a lot of excellent games being shown. However, when it came to selecting our Best of Show recipient, it was abundantly clear from the word go that one title clearly stood out from the crowd.
Ten Ton Hammer's Best of Show for E3 2013 goes toÂ
WeÂve been looking forward to EverQuest Next for quite some time now. Even though our expectations heading into our private viewing during E3 were high, EverQuest Next exceeded those expectations on all fronts.
While we are sworn to secrecy on exactly what we were shown, what we can say is that EverQuest Next was hands-down the best game we had the pleasure of seeing during E3 2013. Franchise fans and MMO gamers across the globe will be able to learn exactly why thatÂs the case on August 2nd during SOE Live when EQNext is given its grand unveiling.
Trust us when we say that youÂll want to mark that date on your calendar, and be prepared to bask in the warm glow of EverQuest Next in all its glory. In the meantime, kudos to the folks over at SOE for winning our Best of Show award; weÂre as excited as you are to witness the impact EverQuest Next is surely going to have on gamers this August!