With a Crying and a Laughing Eye: A Look at GOTYs of 2013 and MMOs for 2014

It’s that time of the year and we are all horribly stressed. Everyone demands things from us at work and they only just remembered, there are trips to plan and if you are very unlucky, a ton of last minute Christmas presents to buy for your more-or-less loved ones. I am looking at my Steam wish list and wonder what to gift myself. It’s quiet right now, outside the world of consoles.

Looking back on a year of gaming, 2013 was as MMO-starved as initially expected. Even Wildstar took a pass at a well-timed launch, eager to make Q2 of 2014 even more unmanageable. Only TESO has finally come forth and snatched the magic date of 04.04.2014, fingers crossed! We shall see - such are the words of wise (and burnt) MMO veterans. I gave up on Guild Wars 2 this summer after the Bazaar of the Four(thousand) Achievements event and I am still stuck at the gates of Moria in LOTRO (edro, edro!). Other than that, I’ve had a look at TERA and found it to be very beautiful and just as flawed. I played some FFXIV:ARR too, only to forget about it. Such was my year of MMORPGs.

teraaa2

In lieu of many new MMO stories to tell, I am excited for a new year packed with MMO launches and Wildstar isn’t even among them. Here go my most-anticipated MMOs of 2014:

1) The Elder Scrolls Online
While the game looks far from perfect depending on what gameplay video you watch on youtube, it shows all the flaws (ugly character models, clunky UI) of Skyrim – game of games. All things considered, I choose to trust those (as I have no choice here in the EU where no beta keys have been released) who have named it a true Skyrim experience and put my money on TESO for 2014. You can laugh and point fingers when the time comes as I’m sure you will. (I would).

2) Everquest Next & Landmark
Still unsure about how Landmark is going to work and play into EQN, I look forward to some of the design progress SOE intends to take up from GW2. Rallying Calls sound hot and the Adventurer Class finds me mildly excited. Not exactly boundless euphoria (the cartoony graphics are still a major turn-off) but I think we can expect a polished package from SOE, with some unique twists as usual. And if not, well it’s all free to play, right?

3) Archage
Another game to be published by Trion, Archage piqued my curiosity although I can’t quite say why. Maybe it’s because the entire character customization and backgrounds look like ArenaNet had some weekends to spare, or because the game is supposedly this awesome sandbox with 120 classes and non-instanced housing. I don’t care for naval combat but I admit sending other players to prison sounds appealing.

4) Skyforge
Nobody knows much about Skyforge, the fact aside that Team Allods and Obsidian Entertainment (Neverwinter Nights 2) have decided to join forces in developing a new MMO. While they didn’t bother releasing any information in English so far and the only existing “trailer” is a lot of repetitive blah in vibrant colors, I have lots of Allods love to give to this project. All that said, that 2014 launch is highly dubious.

MMOs aside, I look forward to The Witcher 3 (SO MUCH!), Dragon Age Inquisition, Child of Light and Tom Clancy’s: The Division. That last one looks like there might be some splendid coop play to be had and I need to compensate for Destiny not launching on PC.

esobridge2
This better be good!

As for my GOTYs of 2013

Outside the world of MMOs, 2013 has been a fantastic year for indie gaming. There’s no doubt in my mind that I’ve had the greatest fun with smaller titles this year, taking me completely aback and delivering the sort of experiences many AAA-games can only dream of. I’ve also been late to some parties in 2013 which is why not all of my personal GOTYs were actually released this year. Sue me.

1) Don’t Starve
This quirky, dark-humored and deeply complex rogue-like, with its Burton-esque flair and stellar soundtrack, is undoubtedly one of the craziest bangs for the buck of 2013. DS is a polished gem of hilarious proportions and everyone should get it! Nuff said.

2) Dust: An Elysian Tail
My great love of 2013, Dust is every bit the work of love of its tireless creator. It’s a beautiful game packed with retro and indie homage, intuitive and fun combat, deep story and loveable characters, secrets to hunt down (spoiler!) and a stunning soundtrack, making for an easy 12+ hours of gameplay at a ridiculous price. Not enough good things can be said about Dust: AET, indeed.

3) Bioshock Infinite
While much can be debated on behalf of BI’s story, there can be no doubt that it ranks among the greatest AAA-experiences of 2013. Stunning visuals, complex narrative and intriguing characters have made this rail shooter a must-play in my books (and I don’t shoot that often).

4) The Witcher 2
Rather late than never, I am currently still playing the Witcher 2 and have completely fallen in love with its characters and immersive way of story-telling. People have complained about the frequent cut scenes but you’ll hear no complaints from me. The Witcher 2 features some of the best dialogue I’ve ever seen in an RPG, a carefree way of making choices and beautiful, atmospheric settings (that to be fair, could be more completely accessible). Oh, and dragons!

5) LOTRO (my MMO saving grace!)
Impossibly late to this one, I started playing LOTRO between December 2012 and January 2013 and have been paying subscriptions ever since. Even if I’m complaining about the experience grind before Moria, LOTRO is probably among the Top 3 MMORPGs I have ever played, with hands down the most immersive MMO world I ever had the privilege to travel. Much of this is thanks to things like perfect scale and sound effects which we have yet to see in other games. Also: player music!

Looking back, I almost feel a little sad parting with 2013 now but nothing that a great new MMO can’t fix. Beware 2014, such weight already lieth on thy shoulders! Do we dare to unleash our expectations – or should we play it safe, for now?

P.S. I’ve played ‘Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons’ few days after writing this article and it is officially added to my GOTYs of 2013!

6 comments

  1. bhagpuss

    LotRO has perfect scale? Maybe in the world itself but my memory of the housing is dolls’ houses inflated with a bicycle pump!

    Skyforge interests me too. I was going to mention it in my recent MMOs for 2014 piece but when I looked into it I found like you that so far that one trailer is all that there is. Still, on my watch list for sure.

    • Syl

      I love my small house in LOTRO :) it is humble but comfy and my four walls don’t make me feel like goldilocks. the guild houses are properly big all of them?
      I think LOTRO overall got size right like none other. I have yet to see an MMO zone getting the feeling within a forest right, the way the Old Forest does.

  2. Thib

    Loved Bioshock Infinite and was quite happy to have bought and played it – the original Witcher completely put me off the game as it’s combat was just awful and so i found no way that i wanted to play the next in line. As for 2014, well – i want to play Wildstar – so there!!! ESO just feels as though they are trying to please both the camps of the ES faithful and MMO’ers but will end up with a crappy hybrid that does neither justice (also with crappy models). So unless i see something, and hear good things from neutrals, i probably won’t be playing that. The rest i may take a look at, but tbh i’m gettign bored of genre. There’s only so much you can do with it, and there’s not a lot more that can be done

    • Syl

      Hmm yeah, I do hear ya. but I’m not quite ready to give up on the genre :) I think I lowered my expectations and accept it won’t be the same it was back in WoW; it’s still fun to combine MMOs and other games I am playing. I miss having one or two around.

      As for TESO, that very well may be. at the same time, I’ve a feeling TESO at least is going to be more oldschool than all these super-polished, cartoony MMOs coming up in 2014. TESO has something rough and rugged about it, I think it will play and handle differently than the rest. and yay for no minimap! we’ll see ;)

  3. Jaedia

    I’m voting for “play it safe”! It’s likely that 2014 could be a good gaming year, but rather not be disappointed.

    I have Don’t Starve and haven’t actually played it. Think it was a gift.. from.. somebody.. randomly..? I can’t remember now. I shall look into it now, though.

    As for LotRO. WELL. I SO want to play and love this game. I really, really do. But I have so very many issues with actually playing it. I played a free trial a few years ago, during Wrath of the Lich King before it had gone free-to-play. LOVED IT. I adore Tolkien so, inevitable. Tried it again after f2p and hated the limitations, swearing I’d just buy the game and expansions and subscribe. Fast forward to Black Friday this year and I notice that the LotRO online store has all expansions minus the newest one for about.. £15 if I remember correctly. So I’m thinking score. But for some reason it wouldn’t let me buy them because I “don’t have a valid subscription”. Eh, what? I need a subscription to buy the expansions which would give this company money? Anyway so I left it, disappointed but hey ho and try to log in to see if I had any luck in the ingame store… but had the exact same error message. So apparently I can’t play LotRO without a valid subscription. Too much effort, too many other games. Sad times. It’s the MMO I always wanted to love after all.

    Anyway, my top games would have to be The Walking Dead, FFXIV – while I only played it a little, I did love it, and the same goes for The Secret World. Torchlight II and Rift as well.

    For the future (I won’t say next year because who knows), Elder Scrolls Online because I love Elder Scrolls and I have been assured that there’s plenty to do. Anything EQN. I’m very excited for this game and can’t wait for Landmark. I actually love the fun, cartoony style of this and Wildstar. I love nice graphics, but once in a while I like something a little different. And yes, Wildstar. I’m also looking forward to ArcheAge if it ever releases over here, and being able to run games on my new PC without worrying about not being able to do group content because of my less than 10fps! Woohoo for 2014. ^^

    • Syl

      Playing it safe is probably best – but every now and then I need my ‘woohoo’ as well! ;)
      I hope you enjoy Don’t Starve – it really is worth looking into. I have to admit I have Torchlight II rotting around somewhere, so I should actually do the same with that.

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