This year we decided to cover PAX more aggressively than we have in the past and one of the by-products of that choice is our first annual PAX Awards. Check back next week for the winners!
This year we decided to cover PAX more aggressively than we have in the past and one of the by-products of that choice is our first annual PAX Awards. Even though the convention focuses on tabletop, PC and console games, MMOs were featured extensively, demonstrating they continue to become more and more popular in the gaming world. As such, due to our MMO focus we had to be extremely selective about what kind of awards we gave out and who we gave them to; however, we’re happy with the end result and we hope that you, our readers and the recipients of these awards will be as well. So without further ado, the Nominees!
You know that feeling of exhilaration after initially seeing or playing a game that will undoubtedly consume hundreds of hours of your life? When it comes to the ZAM "Best in Show" award, that's what we're looking for. This category is reserved for the titles that did the best job of grabbing our attention and making us want more.
Global Agenda is a fast paced, action packed adrenaline rush that plays differently than any other game in the MMO space. Hi-Rez Studios has spent a great deal of time creating a skill based game that feels like a shooter but plays like something more. Persistent elements and an abundance of customization will keep players engaged and thirsty for another match.
Star Trek Online
Star Trek Online brings so many fresh ideas to the table we had to play it twice. The gameplay is exciting, strategic and promises to be the MMO that Star Trek fans have been waiting for. Cryptic Studios has given players the ability to embark on a journey across the cosmos as part of either the Federation or the Klingon Empire. Where STO really shines is in its innovative ideas; such as Episodic Content and Bridge Officer system.
The Secret World
The Secret World is a modern day MMO set in the world as we know it today. That isn't to say that what we know is what is true. Atlantis is rising, Vampires, Zombies and Demons all exist, as well as other dominant races that inhabited Earth before Humans. Imagine the MMO offspring of author Dan Brown and you have The Secret World. While we didn't have a chance to see live gameplay, what we saw was more than enough for a nomination.
As you can imagine, we see dozens of new games every year at conventions like E3, PAX and GamesCom. What you might not realize is that so often, we're impressed with the game, but the way it's presented can quickly de-rail our excitement. With this category we aim to honor companies that take the extra time to show us why their game is awesome.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
Dallas Dickinson, Jake Neri and Blaine Christine put on a great show during the big SW:TOR presentation at PAX. In addition to the unveiling of Coruscant, attendees went crazy during the live gameplay demo of the Trooper and Bounty Hunter classes. Star Wars: The Old Republic continues to blow our mind and is definitely an MMO to watch over the next year.
All Points Bulletin
Every time we see this game we're blown away by the sheer amount of time the guys at Realtime Worlds spend on the presentation. Dismissing the concerning fact that we still haven't been able to try the game ourselves, we're ever hopefully that this GTA, city based MMO will live up to our expectations of greatness.
The Secret World
If you'd asked me last month if we'd ever nominate a game for three awards before we'd even played it, I'd have said "absolutely not". Something about The Secret World has us in an irrevocable trance, be it concept or the gameplay we've seen, we're ready to fall for it, hook, line and sinker.
Our award for Most Innovative Gameplay is reserved for titles that we've seen in action and have had the opportunity to see implementation over concept. It's easy enough to conceive a good idea, but it's another feat to put that idea to work in an MMO.
Aion is an extremely creative game but where it's most impressive is in its ‘free world' style of PvP (coined PvPvE). Players will fight against other players and an extremely intelligent AI controlled faction, for control of a massive aerial battlefield called "The Abyss". During these intense, strategic battles, skilled individuals can advance through the ranks, eventually becoming so powerful that they quite literally become bosses that raids of enemy players will have to work together to defeat. Throw in improvements to some of the coolest PvP features on the market and you have a small taste of the awesomeness that is Aion PvPvE.
Dragon Nest isn't necessarily inventing anything new, but the combination of its Devil May Cry-inspired action-combat elements within an MMORPG context makes it absolutely unique among all the games we previewed. Who ever thought of rewarding loot drops on a boss fight based on combo and style points? Eyedentity did, and it's for this reason we nominated them for Most Innovative Gameplay.
Star Trek Online
Kirk felt that when he died, he'd die alone. After all, what is a Captain without his crew? Gameplay focuses around a crew of bridge officers that can level up with your main character and specialize in various roles will offer a unique twist to the MMORPG genre. In STO, you're never really alone, be it in space or on a strange planet surface. Kudos to Cryptic for introducing one of the coolest gameplay ideas we've seen!
MMOs were dominated for years by stereotypical swords and magic fantasy settings, but as the genre has matured, game developers have striven to compete with one another to present players with unique, immersive game worlds. With this category we recognize the creative elements brought to MMOs by the story tellers, artists and concept designers.
Icarus Studios and Fallen Earth LLC have teamed up to create a sci-fi MMO that takes the best elements of Mad Max, Fallout, the Postman and every other post-apocalyptic nightmare you can envision. Combine this with the massive Grand Canyon game world and you have an incredibly unique MMORPG environment.
The Secret World
What do you get when you mix elements of Fallout, The Matrix and a Dan Brown novel? You get an MMO full of revelations. You get The Secret World. Funcom has created one of the coolest premises we've ever seen for an MMO. Combine it with years of experience and an enhanced Age of Conan game engine and you have a conceptual force to be reckoned with.
The game begins after a series of events that lead to the destruction of the Tower of Eternity and the shattering of the planet Atreia. While Aion doesn't particularly blow our mind in terms of originality, the game manages to take a traditional fantasy approach and bring it to an entirely new level and, after hundreds of fantasy based MMOs, that's a feat on its own.
MMOs are unique in the gaming genre for constantly pushing their own boundaries with a slew of expansion packs to keep the player base interested and loyally grinding its nights away. With this category we aim to honor the coolest new feature added to an MMO in an expansion.
Lord of the Rings Online – Siege of Mirkwood
The Siege of Mirkwood expansion has a lot of great new stuff for would-be slayers of Sauron, but the standout element is the addition of highly customizable Skirmish battles. Skirmishes are tied into the main storyline, offer unique and randomized gameplay, customizable A.I. controlled soldiers, and lots of cool loot. An awesome addition!
Age of Conan – Rise of the Godslayer
Rise of the Godslayer introduces two brand new pets to players. What's unique about these pets is how they are obtained and subsequently raised. These new pets start out as defenseless pets but grow into ferocious fighting machines as they follow you through a series of unique quests. Adventurers will eventually be able to produce magnificent mounts that can be used for travel or in combat. We love improvements to existing ideas and this is a great example.
Pirates of the Burning Sea – Power and Prestige
In the first expansion to Pirates of the Burning Sea, Flying Labs is introducing "Player Governed Ports" which puts the control back into the hands of the players. Players can nominate individuals to run for Governor and, after an election process, that player effectively gains powers to affect how the port performs, economically and defensively, against other players. If nothing else, this new feature should prove to be an interesting social experiment!
Check back with us next week to find out which games will win it all and ascend to a new level of greatness!