EA and BioWare’s upcoming open world RPG Anthem has been opened to players this past weekend during the VIP demo. While there were some major blips, the studio believes they’ve steered clear of the storm and are moving full steam ahead toward its full release later in February 2019. We’ve spent a large chunk of time playing the demo, and here’s our thoughts about this interesting futuristic game.
The Issues Were Hard To Ignore
Doesn’t matter if you had fun or not this past weekend, let’s all admit the issues to begin with sucked hard. Everything from the infinite loading screen, to the audio bugging out, and random crashes have all been party poopers. Is it a telling sign that launch will be the same way? Who knows. BioWare has acknowledge these issues and are hoping to fix them before next week’s public demo. By then, a ton more players will be in Anthem and these issues may or may not get worse. Players are already bashing the game before even stepping foot in it, and are asking for refunds which is hilarious, based on a demo. But let’s not downplay the issues, BioWare need to step up here.
The Gameplay Is Ridiculously Fun
However once you get passed the plethora of issues on PC and console, beneath is a terrific game that’s fun. Everything from movement and flying to combat on your Javellin, to the group content in Strongholds, is engaging. Gunplay doesn’t have a high mastery curve and the synergy of combos and play styles between the 4 types of Javellins players can use is fun to experiment with. Pair that with all the gear you can find, craft and equip in your loadouts and you have quite a large toolbox to mess around with builds. There was plenty to do in this demo, and Strongholds was the highlight. In 4’s, we had to navigate through several areas full of enemies before engaging a titan boss at the very end, which wasn’t dull at all. Instead of just shooting at it for an hour, fights are mechanics based with multiple phases to keep things interesting. Hopefully, the full launch will have a wide variety of these.
It Learned From Mass Effect Andromeda
For graphics and aesthetics, Anthem scores major points. Character models on Ultra setting are excellent, and so is the voice acting, and facial animations for dialogues. That’s probably down to the motion capture and we have to say they’re great. We all remember – not too fondly – what character models looked like at the launch of Mass Effect Andromeda, and we never want to see those eyes again. This game seems to have squashed everything that made ME:A hard to look at. In parts of the gameplay, it’s also not as repetitive as Andromeda when it comes to exploration in modes like Freeplay. The emphasis over organic world-events is a fresh change for sure.
It Isn’t Social Enough
For all its excellent game-play in public match modes, Anthem is oddly silent. In our 20 hour experience, no player has used the in-game built voice chat system. Hitting the T hot key allows you to send voice messages, but there isn’t another alternative. Most MMOs or even Shooters like Warframe has text-chat, and Anthem could use one to be honest. The game’s challenging modes like Stronghold does have group mechanics that experienced players have no way to convey tips or strategy in-game, unless its voice chat. But with a shy community in the demo this weekend, needless to say that doesn’t happen. The HUB at Fort Tarsis is also slightly empty since no players are seen besides you, but BioWare has since come out to say there will be a player community HUB at launch to address this.
It’s Make or Break For BioWare
On a larger scale, the success or failure of Anthem come launch will have massive implications for BioWare. Prior to the game’s reveal a year or so ago, the studio had to re-shuffle its manpower, leaving gaps in its other IPs. Take for example, the skeleton crew that today still oversees the Star Wars: The Old Republic MMORPG. Not to mention, the team that is waiting to begin work on the next Dragon Age game in the franchise. Should Anthem do really well, expect to see some sort of reassurances for these IPs. If not, one can only fear what happens to these other BioWare games.