We're breaking with tradition this year when it comes to the Massively end-of-the-year awards. Instead of lumping them together into one huge article that no one reads because everyone's busy cheering and jeering over the GOTY down in the comments, we're going to pace ourselves so the little ones get some attention too. We'll also be explaining our votes so you can see the split and the rationale behind our picks. And because we know you want to have your say too, we'll throw in a reader poll just for fun. Please don't cheat.
Today's award is for the Most Underrated MMO of the year. As will be the case for many (though not all) of this year's awards, games must have launched in 2014 to be eligible, which makes the list of eligible games fairly short. All of our writers were invited to cast a vote, but not all of them chose to do so for every category, so some games will literally win by a hair.
The Massively staff pick for Most Underrated MMO of 2014 is...
@nbrianna/blog: Elite: Dangerous. I realize it doesn't technically launch until next week, but that alone is going to keep it from being up for consideration for many industry awards that come out this time of year. That seems to be the story of Elite's life: It's always been in That Other Crowdfunded Space Game's shadow. And yet the normally exceedingly picky writer we sent to scout out the game came back gibbering excitedly about playing Han Solo. Unlike the other eligible games, Elite actually seems to be exactly what it is on the tin without having hyped itself along the way.
@Eliot_Lefebvre/blog: If anything, this year's launches were overrated. Firefall, I guess? It did only technically "launch" this year.
@jefreahard: Elite: Dangerous. Part of me wants to quibble over whether Elite can really be called an MMO at this point because the multiplayer aspects are both murky and fluid. Assuming that gets worked out and a virtual world results, I think ED could surprise some people both with its fun factor and its staying power. It's probably too time-consuming for mass appeal, but it wouldn't surprise me at all to be talking about it 10 years from now in much the same way that we talk about EVE today.
@Sypster/blog: WildStar. "Underrated? How about over-hyped, Justin!" I hear some of you saying. Can't it be both? When things started to go sour for Carbine and WildStar, it became easy and convenient to forget that the game itself is pretty terrific. The world-building, art style, housing (oh, the housing), and humor entertained me endlessly this year. Even as the pundits knock it around for being the disappointment of the month, my guildies and I will be happily playing it because at the end of the day, it's a high-spirited MMO with a compelling narrative.
@MJ_Guthrie/blog: I have to say ArcheAge. So many people continue to dismiss the game as just a PvP fest, overlooking all the many other features that you can enjoy without ever engaging in player combat. The fact that you can play the game very fully without being subjected to PvP is just a concept many can't seem to grasp, and because of it, many wouldn't even give the game a chance.
Let's have your vote!