Bioware’s Anthem has been through a ringer of ups and downs over the past few years. At E3 2017, Anthem made its stellar debut, and by doing so it became one of the most anticipated games to watch out for over the coming years.
However, after that 2017 reveal, Anthem went through a multitude of problems. Lead animators and developers left the game’s development to move on to other projects. Scandals surrounding other EA games such as Battlefield V, Mass Effect: Andromeda and Star Wars Battlefront II have also hurt the game’s perception among gamers.
Still, Anthem has pushed through and remains as one of the most highly anticipated games of this year. Here’s everything you need to know:
What Is Anthem? Is It A Destiny Clone?
Before we get into the details, we first have to talk about what Anthem is. Like other action RPG titles like Tom Clancy’s The Division and Destiny, Anthem focuses on the loot-grinding process when it comes to upgrading your character and customization. However, game director Jonathan Warner feels that this is where the similarities stop. While speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Warner was asked about how his game compares to Bungie’s RPG shooter and how he feels about people comparing Anthem to it. Warner said:
“It doesn’t upset me. I think people like to pattern match, and this genre of games is relatively new, so people are going to make those comparisons as they try to understand what it is and what it isn’t. For me, the comparison starts to fall apart really rapidly. The amount of verticality that we have in the game, that agency and freedom that we give you not locking you to one class, allowing you to choose what Javelin you want to take out at any given time, really starts to make it feel different and special. When you have your hands on the controller and you leap up into the air and start flying freely in the environment for the first time, I think that’s when most people kind of get it. Then beyond that, bringing our storytelling. What we call “our world, my story,” is the place where we’re allowing you to engage the story at a pace that you find comfortable, to be able to make decisions that alter things inside of your narrative space while allowing us to still share a big open world. I think that’s where really the sharp differentiators lie.”
The Division and Destiny both struggled to keep gamers engaged after their initial launch dates. To be fair, Destiny 2 improved in this aspect and The Division 2 looks to do the same later this year. However, Anthem doesn’t have the luxury of waiting for a sequel. Due to the expansions of Destiny 2 and The Division 2’s release in March, Anthem must hit the ball out of the park day one. That starts with its narrative.
A Compelling Story Is Still A Big Component For Bioware Games. This Includes Anthem.
Bioware is known for their expertly crafted narratives with Dragon Age and Mass Effect at the top of most gamers’ lists. Anthem is an RPG action game that wants you to grind for hours on end in order to level up but its story is a big deal.
You play as a freelancer, tasked with protecting Fort Tarsis and exploring the desolate world outside of the walled-off city. Your main antagonists are the Dominion, led by someone named The Monitor. The Dominion are a group of radicals who want to take the Anthem of Creation (which is an energy that can sometimes cause catastrophes) for their own purpose. During a presentation to the press, Jonathan Warner talked about The Dominion (via Kotaku):
“They believe the way to keep people safe is to keep them well-heeled, keep everyone on a short leash,”
“That’s their objective—they want to bring peace through force.”
Along with that, the game will have some dialogue options to choose from but not as detailed as the branching options present in the Mass Effect or Dragon Age series. You can build relationships with your crew through completing missions and other means, but you will not be able to “romance” anyone in your crew during the game.
Unique Gameplay Decisions May Separate Anthem From Other Action RPGs
You trek throughout the world of Anthem in these powerful exo-suits called Javelins. There are four suits to choose from, each carrying their own specific ultimate ability and playstyle. The Ranger is a well-rounded class that is good, but not great, at anything you need to accomplish. You’re the balanced player who isn’t left out in any fight. Next up is the Interceptor. This class is made for agility and speed. It can easily slip in and out of combat quickly if needed. It’s everything the Ranger is not. Fast, flashy, and probably made for those who are used to high-octane gameplay.
The Storm is a more magic-based character who uses elemental abilities to deal damage. It’s best to use this class in the air and in a ranged capacity. Finally, we have the tank. The Colossus class is built to deal and take damage. You’ll be slower than everyone else but your teammates will thank you for your unselfish playstyle. You can make multiple variations of each class to match who you’re playing with, whether that is a full squad or just by yourself.
You can see a video detailing the classes and how they work down below:
You’ll be able to upgrade and customize your Javelin however you want with better aesthetics and more abilities as you play (including your armor’s helmet, chest, arms, legs, state of wear, paint, and vinyl). You will also be able to customize your emotes as well.
On the surface, Anthem is similar to other action RPGs like the ones mentioned above. But, as Warner stated, that is where Anthem strays off. The ability to fly in the air and quickly transverse through water is unique. It really gives you the feeling of playing a Destiny style game while at the same time giving you a heroic RPG by flying through the skies like Iron Man. Your suit will begin to overheat if in the air for an extended period of time but you can fix this by being exposed to water. This flying mechanic is one of the most essential aspects that Bioware must get right.
Other Gameplay Details
During an AMA (well, it was actually an Ask Me Almost Anything) on Twitter a few months ago, Bioware Executive Producer Mark Darrah discussed some of Anthem’s gameplay details. Here are just some of those details (if you want to check out the full list, you should check out this article from Variety):
- The game will have a day and night cycle, along with its own dynamic weather system. Each day/night cycle will last for about an hour or so. The time of day will affect the enemies you encounter
- You can take fall damage and drown
- Each Javelin will have its own melee weapon
- Your Javelin’s shields will regenerate over time
- You can upgrade how long it takes for your Javelin to overheat, saving you from making too many stops or trips into the water
- The game requires you to be online but you can play solo if you want
- There is no friendly-fire (for now)
- People outside your squad can revive you when in free roam
- While you mostly play in a third-person view, you will be in first-person in Fort Tarsis
- No loot boxes
- You can play missions you’ve already completed
- There will be some sort of vault to store your weapons
- Controller support for PC players
- Finally, it should be noted that fast-travel will be included in Anthem
Why You Should Still Be Cautious Going Into Anthem’s Release
EA, and to some extent Bioware, has been a thorn in gamers’ sides for the last few years (and I may actually be understating that). Mass Effect: Andromeda was a trainwreck from a PR point of view and is easily viewed as the worst title in the series. To fully go through the Star Wars Battlefront II loot-box debacle, I would probably have to write up an entirely new article. And Anthem has gone through many issues and tragedies in a short amount of time.
Also, Bioware Executive Producer Mark Darrah has stated that there will be no PvP for Anthem at launch.
No PvP at launch https://t.co/nbs5GzS7gE
— Mark Darrah (@BioMarkDarrah) June 9, 2018
If the game’s grind and story become a chore to get through, this decision to leave out another playable mode could be dire for Bioware.
Hopefully, Bioware and EA have learned a lot over the last few years and created something truly special with Anthem. And there is a good chance that they did realize their mistakes. As first reported by GameRant a few months ago, all DLC for the game will be free. The game’s microtransactions are said to be purely cosmetic, which is a step in the right direction for a publisher who had pay-to-win systems in place with Battlefront II.
All in all, Anthem is still a game to excited for. While it may not live up to its “Destiny-killer” moniker it received when it was revealed in 2017, it still may end up as a great game that falls right in line with other successful titles in its genre. We won’t know for sure until Anthem releases next month.
Anthem releases February 22nd, 2019 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC.
Are you excited for Anthem? What class are you going to play as? Let us know in the comments below!