So long 2014, welcome 2015. We can’t say that the past year was remarkable for games, and we’re not even restricting ourselves to free-to-play. But then again, we have to, since this is our focus. So a few weeks ago we asked you for your opinion on which free MMO games were the best, which ones you’re eagerly anticipating and… well, a whole lot of other crazy things. Now we’re going to see the results of your choices and make some considerations on the FreeMMOStation Free MMO Game Awards 2014~2015. And remember: if you don’t like the results, it’s your fault, not ours!
The winner on this category was crystal clear: TERA. No matter how much slack this MMORPG usually gets from some players (“the quests are very repetitive”; “it’s a very grindy game”), most of you actually love it. It’s probably the mix of great action combat and the wonderful visuals that make up for some of its shortcomings. And aren’t most MMORPGs grindy to a point and featuring mostly repetitive quests, we ask you? It’s not like everyone’s playing MMO games for their stories. Anyway, Tera just got its first major expansion, Fate of Arun, so you can now fight your way through a few more dungeons and all the way up to level 65. Oh, and the second and third places went to Vindictus and ArcheAge, respectively.
Digital Extremes’ ninjas in space Warframe was the preferred one in this category. A very polished game and one that has grown significantly, this is undoubtedly one of the big names in the genre and it is bound to stick with us for a couple of years, if not more. Sure, it can get a bit repetitive, but if you can play it in short bursts and an open mind, you’ll enjoy it even more. Second place went to Team Fortress 2, the eternal shooter from Valve and one of the games that features a truly fair free-to-play model that anyone can enjoy – just don’t forget to go and buy some hats to support the development team, they deserve it. Finally, third place went to a game that truly respects the MMOFPS designation: PlanetSide 2. If massive scale wars on foot, land vehicles and airships are your thing, then this is the game you have to play.
One of the most crowded genres in the last couple of years, MOBA games have one clear trio leading the pack: Dota 2, SMITE and League of Legends. Riot Games’ League of Legends pretty much started all the craze and to you it still remains as the go-to MOBA. In second place comes the fresh and ambitious SMITE, a game that tried to bring something new to the genre with the third-person perspective and a gameplay so balanced that pleases both competitive and casual players. The honorable third place is taken by Dota 2, also the last of the three to enter the arena, but as we all know, Valve has all the means to keep pushing this game and take it all the way to the top. We’ll see.
BEST CHARACTER CUSTOMIZATION
Even if not many of you could play Black Desert Online (with the betas being Korean and all), anyone and their moms were able to see videos of the character creation system. We’ve tried it and believe us when we say it’s one of the most advanced tool of its kind in MMORPGs, if not THE most advanced. That is clearly your opinion too, with the other fan-favorite Blade and Soul snatching the second place. In third place we have TERA, but we’re tempted to say it’s mostly because of the quality of the game overall that you made this decision, since APB: Reloaded and Aion, for example, seem like they have better creation systems to us.
BEST FREE-TO-PLAY MODEL
Most of the time, free-to-play isn’t exactly what some games deserve to be called. It’s sad to see that pay-to-win and cash-grab games are still too much of a thing, so we have to praise the games that get it right and truly deserve our money as a reward. You decided to reward Grinding Gear Games the most; the studio that created the Diablo-like Path of Exile made a really excellent game with a perfectly fair cash shop and deserves our applause and coins. SMITE and Dota 2 are two other great examples of how to make free-to-play right, and that’s part of why those games are so popular nowadays. Hopefully the trend will continue and more games will earn our cash instead of getting their grubby hands down our wallets. Yes, we’re looking at you, flashy in-your-face become-VIP-now auto-pilot browser-based games.
BEST FREE MMO PUBLISHER
Plenty to choose from here; however, some of the top free-to-play publishers have just one game on display, although League of Legends, for example, can’t just be called a “one game”. Somewhat surprisingly, Blizzard took the top spot – the studio renowned for franchises such as Diablo, Warcraft and Starcraft has two free-to-play games in its catalog: HearthStone: Heroes of Warcraft and MOBA Heroes of the Storm, but the shooter Overwatch, with parts from the ashes of Project Titan, is also likely to be free-to-play. The second place is for NCsoft, the studio mostly known for Aion, the Lineage series and Blade and Soul, with the Western version fast becoming a strong candidate for vaporware of the decade.