The ZAM Gamescom 2013 Awards

Our team in Cologne brings you the best in online gaming.

It's been a hellish three days. We've poked and prodded the latest games from the biggest developers. We've interviewed those behind the games, probing for in-depth answers on how they'll entertain us in the coming months and years. Finally, after careful consideration, we have our verdicts. Join us, as we tell you about the best games heading your way in 2014.

Best Shooter: Titanfall. Ever since E3, we’ve been salivating at how seamlessly players will be able to switch between mech brute force firepower and agile infantry-style gameplay. If you don’t know what we mean, put on your shades, strap in and watch the following video from developer Respawn, which debuted at Gamescom.


Best Hardware: EVE: Valkyrie and Oculus Rift. This combination feels like a match made in heaven—a superb arcade flight sim that's hideously addictive and ridiculously good fun, paired with some of the most sophisticated consumer-grade virtual reality gear on the market. 

Senior contributing editor Gareth Harmer and Editor in Chief Scott Hawkes played an early version of the game, named E-VR, and were hooked on the concept. Since then, shows like E3 have encouraged CCP to build a fully fledged game. Playtests at Gamescom had Talk Azeroth host Olivia Grace declare it the best flight sim she'd ever played—strong praise from someone who holds a pilot's license.

We went hands-on with EVE: Valkyrie at Gamescom, and you can look forward to playing it sometime next year.

Most Innovative Feature: EverQuest Next & Landmark.  Ever since SOE Live earlier this month, Editor-in-Chief Scott Hawkes has been giddy with excitement about the next installment in this veteran MMO franchise. With a world that's completely made from destructible voxels and a mob AI that's incredibly advanced, Creative Director David Georgeson is working hard with his crew at SOE to strike a path away from the traditional Dungeons & Dragons formula. From what we've already seen, the team looks well on its way to achieving it.

EverQuest Next Landmark is due to arrive in winter this year, andyou can learn more in our EQN Gamescom report. The full free-to-play MMO is anticipated to arrive sometime in 2014.

Genre-Defining: Destiny. Bungie's latest creation since the Halo franchise brings goose bumps whenever we catch a glimpse of it. By blending MMO elements with traditional single-player RPG gameplay, the end result is a seamless, accessible concept that's likely to bring a whole new generation into online gaming. Add those gorgeous visuals powered by next-generation consoles and you have a recipe that we can't wait to feast on.

Best Expansion: Diablo III: Reaper Of Souls. The expansion announcement sounded almost like a love-letter to long-term players of the dungeon crawler. Blizzard promises a darker, moodier art style, crammed full with European-inspired gothic architecture; a continued storyline, picking up right where the main game left off, and with story hooks that reach right through Diablo’s lore, as well as revamped loot, the removal of the Paragon level cap and seamless transitions from outdoor to indoor locations—not to mention the mid-range melee Crusader class.

Blizzard’s hard work has given us a solid reason to group up and get back into the dungeon crawler. After playing it on Playstation 3 during Gamescom, we're confident that even more of us will be bringing hope to Sanctuary in 2014.

Most Anticipated: The Elder Scrolls Online. With over three million players signed up to beta, there's no shortage of eager fans desperate to explore Tamriel. Whether it's franchise loyalists or MMO fans looking for a different adventure, ZeniMax's online RPG is a refreshing, distinct experience that encourages adventure. After getting hands-on during Gamescom, it's impossible to ignore that lure.

Creative director Matt Firor certainly has a large task ahead, crafting an experience that translates well between the Mac, PC and next generation consoles. We can't wait for it to hit our gaming rigs in spring 2014.

Best in Show: WildStar. With its relaxed humor and Pixar-inspired art style, Carbine’s WildStar has been holding our attention since this very show two years ago. In the intervening years, the studio has revealed how the sausage is made, sharing regular updates on every single aspect, from the telegraph-based freeform targeting system, to the Path choices that tailor gameplay to your own individual preferences.

Led by executive producer Jeremy Gaffney, WildStar is aiming to have everything that an MMO game could want, and our own hands-on experience concurs. Dungeon reveals and more elder game information are on the horizon, giving us even more to salivate over. In all likelihood, come spring 2014, this is the MMO we'll all be playing.

That's all the awards we have for this year, but keep your eyes out for more Gamescom reports from Gareth Harmer, Olivia Grace and the rest of the ZAM team. For the moment, we're all off to soak our aching feet and grab a crisp German beer. See you next year!


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