While 2010 might not have been the best year for MMORPGs, it was a year where a lot of RPGs offered multiplayer. While the best of the year might have been an MMO, the fact that a console and handheld RPG are standing along side of it is an interesting step forward for the genre. Having a forced multiplayer or a tacked on mode didn't cut it, these games made multiplayer easy, accessible, and best of all, optional.
Six years ago, Blizzard unleashed a force on gaming the likes of which had never been seen. World of Warcraft launched and changed the multiplayer landscape faster than the pioneers Ultima Online and Everquest did combined. Blizzard melded all the different pieces from the genre into what has become one of the biggest franchises gaming has ever seen. Fast forward to 2010, and Blizzard has done it again with the release of Cataclysm. Blizzard has given players new reasons to join the fight for the Horde or Alliance in the battle against Deathwing and each other. Two new races were introduced: the Worgen and the Goblins. Deathwing has unleashed the cataclysm and changed the face of Azeroth forever, opening new zones, new paths, new adventures, and even bringing back some old fiends for players to face off against.
Players can solo their way through the content, but that's not what Blizzard intended, nor does best. What World of Warcraft does best is the vast array of multiplayer content that exists from simple questing to open-world PVP, capital city raids, and even gathering up a group of friends or strangers to take down some of the open world bosses. Blizzard has also created new battlegrounds for strategic PVP, arenas for small squad PVP, and new and revised dungeons for those out to gather loot and reputation. High level players are also in for a treat with the new raids for players with 10 to 25 friends. For those who choose to go with random folk, Blizzard has opened that up as well, making it easy for groups to gather for PVP and PVE with the dungeon finder and battleground finder.
Blizzard continues to redefine the MMO landscape with every expansion to World of Warcraft, and in between those expansions it keeps giving players more adventures to go on with new raids, dungeons, and content to explore. The Cataclysm reshaped Azeroth and gives players old and new reasons to join the fight in RPGamer's 2010 Multiplayer game of the year, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm.
Monster Hunter Tri did the one thing that the series has needed to do in order to gain any ground whatsoever in North America. It gave US players online play, for free no less. In Japan, PSP owners get to play locally for free, as every other person in the country owns a PSP and Monster Hunter. The Wii release charged Japanese gamers to play online, but not here in North America. Finally having a quick and easy way for RPGamers to team up with others to hunt and kill all kinds of monsters for their body parts is what makes Monster Hunter Tri one of the best multiplayer experiences of the year.
The Pokémon series has been about trading and battle since day one. Unfortunately, portable gaming multiplayer has and still is hindered by proximity. Following the example set by Pokémon Diamond/Pearl, Pokémon Heart Gold/Soul Silver takes a sledgehammer to the walls that divide all the masters. Heart Gold/Soul Silver may not add too many new options for online Pokémon battles, but that is not exactly a bad thing. The options that remain make battles with friends and foes across the internet possible with great variety, such as level rounding. At the same time, all of the classic options for local multiplayer remain. Heart Gold/Soul Silver is still about battles and trades, but the accessibility cannot be beat.
by Alex Reimer, Paul Engemann, Michael Cunningham