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Ask Massively: The best and worst of E3


Massively is finally recovered from E3, whose MMO reveals surprised even the most jaded gamers among us. Now that we've had time to process the entirety of the event and our coverage of it, we think it's time to deliver our overall impressions of the show -- the most surprising reveal, the most disappointing offering, and of course, the best MMO in show.

The ground rules for our discussion?
  • It had to be something we can justify covering -- MMO, MOBA, pseudo-MMO, or related topic.
  • It had to be something shown in public, be it a demo or video or interview. If we can't talk about it and you can't see or read about it, we're not including it. Ahem.
  • Every staff member and on-the-ground freelancer was permitted to chime in.
  • We stuck to three big categories rather than create so many that every game could win something.
Let's do this.

The best and worst of E3
Bree Royce: I'm going to cast my ballot for Final Fantasy XIV. FFXIV came to E3 and delivered the goods as a triple-A MMORPG should, from heaps of trailers to demos to platform surprises and superstar Yoshida dueling with the press, never mind the game's appealing second-chance/underdog vibe. It may not be my kind of MMO, but that, folks, is how you E3.

Jef Reahard: I feel pretty good about giving ArcheAge best-in-show when it comes to MMOs. Even though other titles had more of a presence and more of an opportunity for hands-ons and whatnot, ArcheAge packed more gameplay, features, and polish into its minute-long trailer than its "competition" managed in 30- to 45-minute demos. And really it should be better at this point, both because it's more ambitious and because it's been brewing since 2006.

Shawn Schuster: The Division. I'm trying not to fall into that amazing-trailer-is-amazing trap, but this one features actual gameplay, and everything about it has me really excited.

Eliot Lefebvre: I'm going to give the nod to Final Fantasy XIV, specifically because Yoshida really needed to hit the ground running and make a big impression. By all accounts, he managed exactly that. The reports coming out of E3 about the game were positive, and E3 was followed quickly by a beta weekend that produced a lot more positive impressions. I might be biased, but that doesn't mean that I'm wrong.

Justin Olivetti: Oddly enough, I'm going with FFXIV as best in show. It got a lot of praise for what it's showing with A Realm Reborn, the new console UI looks slick, and the announcement of the PS4 version is a good sign for its future.

Mike Foster: I'm giving this to the PlayStation 4 instead of a game. Here's why: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, The Elder Scrolls Online, War Thunder, DC Universe Online, PlanetSide 2, The Division, The Crew, EverQuest Next, and Warframe. If you're interested in MMOs and you're interested in console gaming, I don't see how the PS4 isn't your machine. Granted, not all of those games are exclusives, but Sony made a good case for itself with the folks who hang out in this niche.

Brendan Drain: The Division. There were a lot of new IPs shown off this year, but The Division was by far the most impressive. The holographic UI is incredibly immersive, and it looks like it'll be an open-world sandbox, but it was all the little touches that really sold it for me. The environmental destruction and the radio filter on voice chat really helped immersion, and I audibly squeaked when the guy pushed past the cop car door and closed it. Don't pretend you didn't too!

Andrew Ross: I'm tied between ArcheAge and The Elder Scrolls Online. AA is staying pretty true to what I already knew about the Korean game. I also know the people working on the game are very familiar with the Korean version, as they also fell in love with it before being able to even read the game text, and I know the starting area is the same; they frontload a ton of the features so I don't spend the first few levels killing rats for the millionth time. However, ESO's demo was just awesome. I literally lost track of time in that demo and was thankful I wasn't kicked out. The feeling of just exploring and finding things is something we've really lost in this genre, though maybe ESO's demo was chosen because it highlights this a lot better than the rest of the game.

Jeffery Wright: I would argue Final Fantasy XIV deserves best in show. Yoshida-san and team have definitely learned from the previous version of the game. Combat is more responsive, visual flair is decked out with 36 pieces, there's a stronger Final Fantasy texture, and battles are a helluva lot of fun. I love the FATE system, limit breaks are returning, and there's definitely a huge movement to the original FF feel.

Blake Cripps: The Division had one of the best demos from any MMO-type game at the show this year. I love the fact that it is on console and that it will have an MMO-esque experience system. The co-op play looks fantastic with the option of seamless PvP for those who want a competitive experience.

The best and worst of E3
Bree Royce: I paid no attention to Destiny -- ho-hum, another console shooter, right? -- until the E3 trailer blew me away with its flowy Star Wars-esque shots. The fact that Destiny impressed me was my biggest surprise.

Jef Reahard: The biggest MMOish surprise for me was The Crew. I'm impressed by the fact that Ubisoft has apparently managed to deliver the entire United States as a seamless/zoneless driving playground, and I was blown away by how recognizable some portions of the game world actually were. I know, most traditional MMO players are probably yawning, but I've got enough dudebro in me to love a good racing title. I'm also excited to see a triple-A developer take a stab at expanding the genre beyond orcs and ray guns.

Shawn Schuster: Warhammer 40K: Eternal Crusade was a huge surprise to me because it's been tried before and I figured we'd all moved on. But I'm very excited for the possibility of the WAR40K IP being a real MMO one day.

Eliot Lefebvre: While Sony was busy eating pretty much everyone's lunch, it turns out that a surprising number of MMOs are going to be making their way onto the PlayStation 4. Considering this is the console that isn't strongarming you into a persistent internet connection, I'm admittedly rather surprised.

Justin Olivetti: ESO's announcement of multiple console releases. It's probably the single biggest MMO rollout we've ever seen, across four platforms (if we're including Mac). That probably bodes well for ZeniMax (as if the Elder Scrolls name isn't enough wind at its back).

Mike Foster: Warhammer 40k: Eternal Crusade. There were very few hints that this was a thing, and the announcement during E3 caught pretty much everyone off-guard. I'm also surprised there's a games studio out there with the hubris to think it can make a Warhammer 40k game that won't collapse into a pile of broken mechanics and half-implemented ideas. But hey, these guys did make Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise, so everything will probably be fine.

Brendan Drain: The Division. I honestly don't know how Ubisoft managed to keep a lid on this project. The gameplay demo looked pretty far along in development and extremely polished. My only gripe is that a PC version hasn't been announced yet, but I honestly might get a PS4 or XBox One just to play this one game.

Andrew Ross: Biggest surprise is either Solstice Arena or The Crew. Solstice is just a solid MOBA experience. I am genuinely disappointed I couldn't play it when I got home from E3 and will be watching for an update for when I can play it on a non-Apple product. The Crew just came out of left field. I sucked at the demo, but I still wanted to do more, especially without a dev watching me the whole time in a room where I was being timed and would get kicked out.

Jeffery Wright: Biggest surprise was World of Warships. Even in the game's pre-alpha stage, the visuals hardly needed tweaking, and has always brought an extreme level of authenticity to its titles. Since it's seen wild success with World of Tanks, and the World of Warplanes beta is hitting soon, I can only imagine that the dev team will combine the best of both games and integrate it into World of Warships.

Blake Cripps: I definitely didn't see The Division this one coming from Ubisoft. Wrapping all this up in a new IP is a really bold play. This could be game-of-the-year candidate if the story is any good.

The best and worst of E3
Bree Royce: Another attempt at a Warhammer MMO-thing, really? I'm disappointed that the ex-Funcom folks at Behaviour are investing their time into a franchise that's already failed three times three different ways in MMO land, and this particular version doesn't seem like a deep, engrossing addition to the lineage.

Jef Reahard: I don't really have a biggest disappointment per se, unless we can break outside of MMOs and go with pretty much everything relating to the Xbone. In terms of MMOs, I was already underwhelmed by both WildStar and ESO (with the exception of the former's housing), and nothing I saw from E3 changed that. The rest of the MMO offerings were about what I expected. Nothing disastrous or disappointing, but nothing worth shouting about from the rooftops either.

Shawn Schuster: Black Gold. Boy was I looking forward to this one, but all reports seem to point toward this initial showing as a dud. I haven't completely given up hope on it yet, though. I like what Snail has done with Age of Wushu, and the game's art looks amazing. But if the gameplay isn't there, then I'll need to let the little excited gremlins in my head just move on.

Eliot Lefebvre: Nothing, really? It's hard to be disappointed when a game you have no interest in doesn't change your mind, and I wouldn't call anything that happened in the console throwdown a "disappointment." Hilarious, maybe.

Justin Olivetti: WAR40K being more or less just an endless battleground with little in the way of PvE content and questing is my biggest disappointment. It's such a rich and beloved universe, but the reveal made me feel as if it's being treated incredibly flippantly.

Mike Foster: The Elder Scrolls Online. Every time we get a glimpse of the game, it looks as if it's headed deeper into "Skyrim with some other people" territory. I was hoping to see ZeniMax make an effort to demonstrate what makes going online a necessity in ESO, but it just hasn't yet made the case.

Brendan Drain: Finding out that the playable XBox games on display at E3 were actually running on Windows 7 PCs. Some of these games won't even get a PC release, but they already run on existing hardware. Considering the fact that my gaming PC is significantly more powerful than either of the new consoles, I think it's an absolute travesty that some of the new games won't be coming to PC.

Andrew Ross: This just feels like a trap given what happened with my hands on, but I guess I'll be honest and admit it was WildStar. It's not just that it's an old demo; it was also one that I still feel doesn't highlight anything really new for modern AAA MMO players. A restrictive demo of housing or the Settler and Scientist path demo in general would have gone over better. Those stand out not just from other MMOs but other games period.

Jeffery Wright: I hate to admit it, but I was disappointed with the Warhammer 40K: Eternal Crusade project. It's a gigantic IP that's been popular for several years now, and to see it morph into an MMO can be an exciting thing, but will Behaviour be able to harness and translate it into something the die-hard fans want?

Blake Cripps: The Division, again. How in the world could this be my best-in-show and my biggest let-down? That's what Ubisoft gets when it makes a great game and doesn't put it on PC. The game looks as if it will play better on consoles, but there are a ton of PC gamers who'd love a chance to get into this game behind a mouse and keyboard.

We're sure you all have your own opinions. So let's hear them in the comments!

What should you play? Where is the MMO industry headed? How does Massively operate? Has Lord British lost his marbles? Why is the edit button on a timer? Should "monoclegate" be hyphenated? Editor-in-Chief Bree Royce submits to your interrogations right here in Ask Massively every other Thursday. Drop your questions in the comments below or ping us at Just ask!

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