Anthem stands as one of the largest disappointments in recent gaming history. The game released in a heavily unfinished state, with an extremely lacking story to boot. Despite this, many players (myself included) found plenty to love about the game.
While its story was lackluster, the writing was pretty funny at times. And while the game was pretty broken, the gameplay proved both fun and immensely cool. Nothing quite matched the feeling of flying around in a Javelin. Nothing quite felt like Anthem.
I was initially extremely hyped about Anthem. The early gameplay footage shown at E3 2018 left me really hungry to see more of the game. Just something about the setting and the gameplay made me really want to play it.
More importantly though, the game was announced to have co-op gameplay. At the time, there weren’t really many AAA co-op focused games out. So naturally with this coming out, I was just excited to have an experience I could share with someone.
The Initial Impressions
Close to Anthem’s full launch, a couple of betas were launched to test the game’s servers. The initial beta was really underwhelming on a technical level. Performance issues and bugs were pretty plentiful. But there were still a lot of great ideas there.
When the full game launched, I couldn’t stop playing it. Together with some friends I started playing through the missions. And I’ll be honest, I got hooked pretty hard on Anthem. And while the story itself was lacking, the gameplay was enough to have me playing the game for hours on end.
Anthem’s gameplay was unlike anything I had played before at that point. I know a lot of people claim Anthem is very unoriginal and borrows quite heavily from Destiny. And sure, you could argue that about a lot of things in Anthem. But I feel the flying and combat is something wholly unique to it.
In Anthem, flying feels a bit like a mix between being Iron Man and being a jet airplane. The controls took a bit to get used to, but once I got into them the flying felt like second nature. Flying and hovering just made you feel like the coolest and most badass thing in existence.
Where Anthem Disappointed
I really enjoyed the different javelins and how well they synergized together. You really needed a full team of different Javelins to fully enjoy the game’s combat. With different combos, different elements, and different ways to approach any situation, the combat felt really dynamic and fun. So with all these great aspects working together, how did Anthem fall short?
Well, mostly in the story department. The main character never feels… relatable. They never really react to anything in any realistic way and spends most of the time being a snarky jerk. Apparently the protagonist has gone through something really traumatic but we never really FEEL this by how they act.
The game is full of bad writing, where it literally feels like they just made stuff up as they went along. The ending remains one of the most unsatisfying conclusions I’ve ever witnessed. I was just flabbergasted at how anticlimactic the whole thing felt.
And then came the end game. That’s where I just lost interest in the game and where my love for it died. Rather than supplying players with satisfying post-end-game missions and story content, you were left with a bunch of repetitive missions and a ton of grinding for gear.
To see this kind of lacking storytelling coming from the company that brought us the Mass Effect trilogy is shocking, to say the least. They completely abandoned any attempt at making any of your choices have meaningful consequences. The whole game just… doesn’t feel cohesive or satisfying in terms of story. There aren’t even romance options like BioWare is famous for.
The Future Of Anthem
BioWare did release a roadmap for the game, promising upcoming story content. What we got instead were a bunch of events and more repetitive missions. More story content to make up for the game’s lackluster campaign was nowhere to be seen. Even worse, BioWare ended up abandoning the roadmap entirely.
Though this year, BioWare did announce an upcoming overhaul of the game. However, deep down I really hope they do more with Anthem, given their track record so far it seems unlikely they can do much to fix what is fundamentally broken game. It remains to be seen what exactly this overhaul will result in.
It may also be pertinent to ask whether the players even want an overhaul at this point. Do we even care? I myself haven’t touched Anthem since early 2019. That is almost an entire year since its launch at this point.
It’s clear BioWare wants Anthem to be this live service game that could rake in cash for EA. Though I guess amidst the focus on making a live service, they forgot to make a decent game.
Is It Worth It?
I’ll be honest. I really love Anthem’s gameplay. I even love its graphics and style. It may seem like a blatant Destiny ripoff most of the time. But it has a style and feel to it that I still believe makes it unique. It is a gorgeous game, and one that is extremely fun to play.
Anthem may be one of the biggest wastes of potential in recent memory. Together with the even more abysmally broken Fallout 76, it tops the lists of great concepts ruined by corporate greed and lack of proper development.
I honestly had a lot of fun with Anthem and there is NOTHING I want more than seeing it succeed. I really want it to be great. To give us the kind of experience BioWare is known for. I just don’t see how that’s going to happen unless they make a sequel or redo the entire thing from scratch.
Anthem is in dire need of a complete restart akin to Final Fantasy XIV. I think that would be the only thing that could save it from falling into obscurity and eventually failing as a live service game.
There is no doubt in my heart that Anthem has what it takes to be a great game. It already has everything it needs for that to happen. It just needs a good story and more focus on satisfying rewards.