2021 TechRaptor Awards - Best Evolving Game

Published: December 22, 2021 12:30 PM /


2021 techraptor awards best evolving game

In some ways, it feels the metaverse already exists. For many, there's that one tried and true game whose well seems full of endless entertainment. While so many games just want to eat up as much of your time and attention as possible no matter how they do it, some are just great fun and well-made. Here's our nominees and the winner of our Best Evolving Game Award for outstanding continued development on an existing game.

Our nominees (all other award categories can be found here):

  • Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
  • Final Fantasy XIV
  • Fortnite
  • Genshin Impact
  • No Man's Sky

Readers' Choice Winner - Final Fantasy XIV

Developer: Square Enix | Release Date: September 30, 2010

It's no surprise to see a game that literally blew itself up to start fresh see itself take our Readers' Choice award. The risky move paid off, and the new direction of Final Fantasy XIV has been nearly flawless since. Not only is the game great in its own right, plenty argue it's the best Final Fantasy ever. 

Third Place - No Man's Sky

no mans sky frontiers

Developer: Hello Games | Release Date: August 9, 2016

Written By Nick Maillet

Can you believe it's been five years since the disastrous release of the original No Man's Sky? In that time we’ve seen it go from an indie title that promised more than it could ever deliver, to a masterclass in what an evolving game should strive to be. While it's still missing a few features that were promised at launch, the current version of the endless space adventure has more to do than ever and has become one of my go-to games when I want to just chill out and unwind. 

No stranger to this award, we gave No Man's Sky top honors in 2018 and second place in 2020. We’ve seen some major updates, such as creature companions, a next-gen graphical overhaul, the ability to build cities, and the long-awaited and highly requested multiplayer mode. It’s not too often, if ever, that we see a game of this caliber deliver as much content and quality of life features as No Man's Sky, and it’s an easy choice to find itself in our picks for Best Evolving Game. The sky's the limit with this one. 

Second Place - Genshin Impact

genshin impact

Developer: miHoYo | Release Date: September 28, 2020

Written By Andrew Stretch

It's now been a little over a year since Genshin Impact was released in September 2020. What was originally joked about as nothing more than a Breath of the Wild clone has become a global phenomenon (so much so that KFC had to shut down their cross-promotion…). 2021 began with Genshin Impact 1.3 All That Glitters update allowing characters to experience seasonal events like the Lantern Rite and explore Liyue further. Since then, Genshin Impact has released a whole new region over a series of updates, continued the thrilling story of the Traveler in Teyvat, and released a PlayStation 5 client. 

With regular updates every few months even for a casual player, this free-to-play title offers enough to keep drawing you back in. With a Switch port on the horizon and four more regions to visit, Genshin Impact is also showing no signs of slowing down.

Winner - Final Fantasy XIV

ffxiv endwalker

Developer: Square Enix | Release Date: September 30, 2010

Written By Joseph Allen

There’s a clip you can watch online that encapsulates why Final Fantasy XIV deserves the Best Evolving Game accolade. In the clip, which takes place at 2021’s Digital Fan Festival, it is acknowledged for the first time that composer Masayoshi Soken struggled with cancer while composing some of the soundtrack for 2019’s Shadowbringers expansion. Producer Naoki Yoshida holds back tears for as long as he can while this matter is discussed, finally breaking down as he welcomes back his “best friend”. It’s impossible not to be overwhelmed with emotion while watching it.

In a nutshell, that’s Final Fantasy XIV and its community. The Digital Fan Festival is a place to acknowledge how far XIV has come since its inauspicious beginnings in 2010, but it’s also a place for fans to celebrate the incredible journey they’ve been on since A Realm Reborn’s arrival in 2013. Square Enix has released four expansions for XIV, each of which is an embarrassment of riches. Each new expansion introduces thoughtfully-designed jobs, raids, and dungeons, some of which contain new spins on references to older Final Fantasy titles.

If there’s one place XIV shines, though, it’s in the narrative. Final Fantasy XIV has a story that isn’t just “good for an MMO”. Its emotionally complex, cathartic narrative winds its way around countless shocking twists and air-punching character moments. From humble beginnings at the start of A Realm Reborn all the way through to most recent expansion Endwalker’s brave, bold conclusion, you’ll grow, learn, and fight alongside some of the most compelling characters in the entire Final Fantasy series. Long may Yoshi-P, Soken, and the rest of this brilliant creative team reign.

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