The year of 2013 was supposed to be a great year for MMO games, but it turned out to be a bit of a drag. Sure, many older games saw excellent updates, but so few new games released, and the more extravagant ones were pushed back to 2014 or even later. Regardless, we at Exilic got together to decide what were the best 10 MMOs to play in 2013. We present them here, in no particular order. Strap on your reading glasses, kids.
FFXIV: A Realm Reborn
Do you believe in miracle patches? Neither did we, until Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn released late last year and showed us that, with enough willpower and ingenuity, even the most broken engine can be fixed. After Final Fantasy XIV fell flat for all but the most stubborn fans of the series, Square Enix, not content to let the game die and move on, vowed to rebuild the game from the ground up and turn it into something great—and they ultimately succeeded.
At the start of the year, the term “free-to-play” would send a pretty understandable chill down the collective spines of gamers. The term usually signaled an ultimately forgettable experience that, unless you coughed up some dough for the “bonus” items, would be a complete drag to play. Neverwinter, an MMORPG set in the Dungeons & Dragons universe, changed all that by creating a free-to-play title that was polished, fun, and didn’t give an unfair advantage to players willing to spit out some real-world cash. Also, it has some hilariously bad voice acting, if you’re into that. Some may even say it’s GRUUUUUUESOME.
Firefall is a somewhat unique action MMORPG that has players going on raids and doing battle with enemies using fancy, futuristic guns rather than swords and magic spells. The overall goal of the game’s design is to harken back to the old days, when hands were often cruelly unheld and players were thrust into an open, robust world that was ripe for exploring (and, of course, pillaging). On that front, Firefall succeeds, and manages to be a pretty fun grind that takes quite some time to lose its luster. Oh, and you get a kickin’ rad jetpack. Like, for free.
Defiance is a bit like Firefall without the awesome jetpacks. If the complete openness of Firefall seems a bit too much, then Defiance may be more your style. It’s still an open-world game, but it features a dynamic world that the developers are constantly updating and expanding, and is a bit friendlier to new players. If you enjoy the story—which you very well should—you can also watch the TV show on SyFy. It’s also one of the few MMOs that are currently available on consoles (PS3 and Xbox 360).
MechWarrior is one of those game series that many people have forgotten, but in the hearts of older gamers it lives on as one of the most fun franchises to ever exist. After years of hit-or-miss announcements, MechWarrior Online was revealed as an online-only multiplayer game that would finally revitalize the series. Featuring fully-customizable bipedal “mechs”, MechWarrior Online is a literal blast to play, and the customization options available are deep enough that no two mechs are truly alike. Squawk.
Path of Exile
If nothing else, online action RPG Path of Exile has earned a spot on this list for its skill tree alone. Seriously, look at the size of that thing! Every class in the game shares it. Looking at it, it makes sense that the game’s biggest draw is its customization. Using Skill Gems—a separate item that levels up with the player—you can use almost any skill your heart desires, and when you’re done, you can trade it away with the same amount of experience attached. Top that off with the game’s overall design, art style and mechanics, and you have one of the best action RPGs of the decade, let alone last year.
Age of Wushu
Quasi-sandbox MMO Age of Wushu is a martial-arts themed game set in ancient China. The combat skills players will learn will allow them to jump from rooftops and use over-the-top powers such as those seen in films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Cultivation points, which are earned from experience, are the central core of the game’s leveling system. The game also boasts a realistic (for the time period) economic setting that demands you keep a good reputation and, you know, do your job.
Guild Wars 2
Okay, so Guild Wars 2 released in 2012. However, it has earned a spot on this list thanks to its “Living World” system. Rather than dish out a few expansions every year, ArenaNet has instead opted to update the game’s world every two weeks with fresh content, so that players always have something new to look forward to. It has updated with more content than any other game on this list, which is something worth mentioning. In the end, Guild Wars 2 has a spot on this list because, even if it isn’t a fantastic game, it isn’t a bad one either—it does nothing wrong, despite the potential many believe it hasn’t used.
Having gone free-to-play in June, Rift has certainly earned its spot on this list. If, for whatever reason, you were holding out on playing Rift because it cost too much to play, then you no longer have an excuse. It is by no means a new game, but it has held up well since its release and still has a somewhat ravenous fanbase. With the free-to-play option now available, there was never a better time to jump into Rift than 2013.
Every MMO features dragons. Some even let you ride those dragons. But how many let you breed, grow, and raise an entire pen of dragons? That’s Dragon’s Prophet in a nutshell. Couple that with the extreme difficulty and the free-to-play price, and Dragon’s Prophet is a fun way to kill time. It’s not the prettiest MMO out there, but it makes up for that with its dragon-taming.
Okay, so maybe the year wasn’t so bad after all. There were some noteworthy titles, though nothing really jumped off the page at us—it looks like next year will fill the void we so desperately wish to fill, however. Take a look at our Most Anticipated of 2014 article for an idea of what we’re talking about.