Anthem, the upcoming game from Bioware, has a new trailer and new info and gameplay fresh from EA Play at E3 2018. It is slated to release on February 22, 2019.
What Is It?
Anthem is Bioware’s take on Destiny, an online-focused FPS RPG hybrid. Each player will have Javelins, customizable mech suits. Javelins come in many different varieties, each with a different playstyle. There is a heavy emphasis on combining powers and abilities for combos, which have been a staple of Bioware’s games since Mass Effect 3. Casey Hudson, the lead designer, has said that there will be microtransactions for cosmetics, but you will know what you’re buying; no random loot boxes. Hudson also promised a focus on story, but there a few if any online multiplayer games that have deep and engaging lore. The gameplay shown on stage was reminiscent of a larger, more robust Destiny. Actually, most of the talk around the game was similar to the marketing from Destiny. And that is troubling, but also, EA and Bioware must have seen the backlash against Destiny when it first released. Overpromising is a dangerous thing to do in this industry, but given Bioware’s history, it makes sense that EA would want to promote the existence of a story, no matter how generic it may be.
How’d It Look?
If Anthem is an excellent Destiny clone/successor, that is enough for me. After Andromeda, do we even want a Bioware narrative? All told, this was fine look at Anthem. After the initial reveal and the news that trickled out afterward, nothing shown was very surprising. If the idea of a larger, more expansive Destiny appeals to you, this might be up your alley. Otherwise, it is difficult to see what Anthem has to offer you.
Anthem has to Deliver
Bioware’s games have been on a downward slide ever since Mass Effect 3. Critics and fans alike panned Mass Effect Andromeda. Dragon Age Inquisition sold well, and it certainly wasn’t the mess that was Andromeda. But Inquisition failed to capture the spark of the original Dragon Age. Bioware is at their best when they’re crafting worlds and interesting characters in those worlds. That studio does not have a good history with building hooks for Games As A Service. And Anthem is Bioware’s most online integrated game yet. EA seems to be pushing all of their studios to make every game as a service. Every EA game needs to have aggressive microtransactions and heavy online elements. Sony, inversely, has thrived by letting their studios develop unique IPs. EA needs to be willing to let their studios have more creative freedom. Anthem is do or die for Bioware, so let’s hope they can pull it off.