I like Bioware. They’ve had a hand in multiple games I’ve played to death – all of the Mass Effect series, including Andromeda, which I really enjoyed despite the NPCs gurning at me on occasion, also the Dragon Age series of games which had a rich story running through it, much like Knights of The Old Republic way back in the mists of time. You would think that to a storied production team like Bioware, this should have been a walk in the park….
A lot has been said about Bioware’s looter shooter Anthem, numerous YouTube types and reviewers alike all have an opinion, usually negative, about the game itself whether it be the perceived lack of endgame, or, EA… well being EA really… Everyone has an opinion. The game itself hasn’t been helped by tales of a dying player base, rumoured monetisation practices and quite a lot of unfounded “why Anthem sucks now” opinion pieces splashed around the internet.
It does make me wonder if Anthem had been released by another publisher, would it have received the pummelling that it did? The Division 2 received some serious plaudits for Ubisoft (who’ve had their fair share of gaffs) with one Youtuber, Skill Up, claiming it was “the new bench mark for looter shooters” but everyone seems to have forgotten what an absolute disaster Division 1 was, and what a great game it ended up being. The same goes for Destiny (both 1&2), running with absolutely zero endgame (Raids aside) and awful DLC until The Taken King and Forsaken respectively.
The end game argument in Anthem just doesn’t hold up for me. Even if I’m not in the mood to undertake strongholds it is still fun to crank up the grandmaster levels, grab some friends and suit up just to do some free-roaming activities and world events.
Which brings me to the next point – The Cataclysm, a six week event (eight if you count the events leading up to it) that brings with it a new storyline, map regions and arenas, melee weapons, guilds and clans. The basic premise is that the dominion have been messing with things beyond their reckoning and have sparked another cataclysm bigger than The Heart of Rage (which is playable as a stronghold). It is left to you and your band of Freelancers to undertake various tasks across multiple new sections of map, each with it’s own challenges and bad guys to deal with; it sounds a little like the Prison of Elders from Destiny.
New loot and a change to the luck system should make that drop rate seem a bit more enticing, where loot drops are much improved with master-work, legendary weapons and equipment dropping at enhanced rates. It is enough to keep it interesting but not so much that the game is throwing things at you.
Indeed, there are already opinion pieces going up about how bad it is. But, hang on, we haven’t even played it yet so to give it a big “MEH” already is just ridiculous. There are new strongholds on the horizon as well as the absolutely superb Sunken Cell to get your teeth into, and contrary to popular opinion I’ve yet to have any issues in finding other players to help undertake strongholds, free roam or legendary contracts.
People are making judgements on these events based on speculation rather than having actually played any of it. I for one am pretty darn excited to see what the future holds for Anthem as a project and hope that Bioware and EA don’t just give up on it. With the amount of content on the way it doesn’t seem that this is likely just yet.
A number of the issues that came at launch have been addressed such as a faster interface between the player and actually getting into the game with less time spent in loading screens. This includes the ability to go straight back into the action from the summary screen rather than having to go back into Fort Tarsis and then having to come back out again. Further, the stability issues that saw people getting kicked during strongholds has been addressed.
I guess what I’ve been trying to say with this whole piece is not how unfairly Anthem has been treated, but why you should ignore the opinions of others and make up your own mind. Has the game done enough to encourage players to stick around? Maybe. The introduction of new strongholds and the upcoming Cataclysm event with a new story line and missions could be the shot in the arm that the game requires to bring back the player base.
Anthem really still is a great game and extremely playable, in the same way that Destiny 2 is also still a great game and extremely playable. If you enjoy the grind and are motivated by shiny shiny loot, or love flying around like Iron Man putting the world to rights then I’d suggest taking another look.