Title: Anthem (Demo Weekend)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: Shared-World Shooter RPG
Available On: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Official Site: https://www.ea.com/games/anthem
Release Date: February 22, 2019
As a long-time player of squad-based online multiplayer games like Destiny, Diablo, and Phantasy Star Online, Anthem definitely struck a chord with me. With the recent demo weekends, I got a chance to put my hands on the game and get a good impression of what the game’s future is going to stack up to be. So the question remains, is Anthem a game that’s worth getting excited about?
Anthem is a shared-world multiplayer shooter developed by long-time RPG masters Bioware and published by EA. The game puts you in the shoes of a Freelancer, one of a handful of people tasked with exploring the landscape outside of Fort Tarsis, a stronghold for what’s left of humanity. Your freelancer will pilot Javelins- weaponized mech suits handcrafted by a group of people called the Arcanists- to help you achieve your goal. While the story for the demo weekend was intentionally scarce, there was enough there to spark my curiosity. While most shared-world games like this are light on story, with Bioware at the helm, there’s a certain expectation for the game’s story to be outstanding; and from what’s been seen so far in the demo weekend, Bioware doesn’t seem to be letting anyone down. The real meat and potatoes of the demo weekend, however, was the gameplay.
The defining feature of Anthem’s gameplay is the aforementioned Javelins; a series of exosuits that allow you to fly around the landscape and use a handful of special abilities. At launch, there will be four Javelins that players can choose from. While I didn’t get to experience all four, I did play on a team that had one of each Javelin. My preferred Javelin was called the Storm, which has low health but strong shields while hovering, along with very powerful elemental special abilities. The other Javelins include a “soldier” type called the Ranger, a “tank” type called the Colossus, and a speedy, close-range “melee” type called the Interceptor. Each Javelin had their own defined role, and while there was an obvious lack of a “support”-type, combat was incredibly satisfying. Each Javelin can use elemental abilities that can “prime” other abilities, and allow you to perform combinations for increased damage. Like the Storm, for instance, I could use my elemental abilities to freeze an enemy, and the Interceptor could run in and smash the enemy for increased damage with a heavy melee attack.
There were only a handful of missions in the demo weekend, but they all gave a varied impression of how the game will shape up in the future. The first mission available had our squad finding our way into a temple-type area and solving a puzzle; the second mission had us fighting through a tough squad of enemies culminating in a boss fight, and a “dungeon” mission saw us fighting our way through a cave system and defeating a giant spider-type boss. All of the missions available were excellent in their use of the game’s space, with the puzzle tasking the players to find colored “hints” on the walls and activating terminals with the same color as the hint. The dungeon had multiple phases and felt similar to something you’d find in World of Warcraft, which is a breath of fresh air compared to what Destiny had been doing. There was also some open-world exploration that I, unfortunately, didn’t get a chance to experience, but there was plenty to do in the game in the demo weekend, which gives me a fair bit of hope that Anthem’s full release will give players a fully-fleshed-out experience.
While the in-game content available in the demo weekends were more than enough to give a good impression; the myriad of technical issues that cropped up during the trial certainly didn’t do the game any favors. For the entirety of the first VIP demo weekend, I was completely unable to log in and play. During the second demo weekend, which was available to everyone, I was able to actually play the game, but after every single mission, at least one person on my squad had something go wrong, from connection timeouts to having their entire loadouts reset. I personally experienced an issue where my Javelin, its customized color scheme and all of its weapons were reset and locked to level 1 and couldn’t equip anything, as the demo’s level ranges were 10-15. While this was fixed with a reset of the game, the frequency of these errors can’t be ignored. There were also other technical issues as well, including low framerates, ping spikes, and enemies desyncing; which were less serious but still frustrating.
I sincerely hope that the technical issues get ironed out because Anthem is shaping up to be a fantastic game; one that could be “The next big thing”, as it were. I look forward to the full release of the game, and hopefully, it can realize all of the potential shown in the demo weekends.