Now I don’t want to start off on the wrong foot here. I actually do like Anthem. I’m certainly enjoying the combat. I’m kind of going along with the story. On the fence about the characters. But I swear to god if I see another loading screen in between all of those things, I will lose it.
Anthem’s Early Access has been made available to those who have the Origin Access Premiere. And the generous folks at Zone Cafe let me sink in quite a lot of time into the game. All I can say for now that I’m 50-50 about the game. Let me explain in a much more detailed fashion. (rant incoming)
Hit the load:
Anthem has been in development for 7 years now. Much longer than its competitors’ Destiny, Destiny 2, and The Division. While the aforementioned games have had their fair share of problems over the years and installments; they’ve more or less fixed the issues. Yet Anthem, despite being in development and seeing all these blunders of its competition, chose to do the same mistakes.
There are no guilds at launch. There are no bloody markers in the open world. You can’t put a waypoint if you want your team to help you. There is no shared progress in the open world. For example, if you have a daily quest that requires you to open x number of chests and your teammate opens one, you won’t get that progress.
But wait, you say? Just go in solo and do it? Freeplay is only accessible with a party of four so tough luck if you have that quest. I mean this is 2019, BioWare. Sure you can promise all of this after launch but like, you could’ve put this in the game over the 7-8 years of development?
Here’s another kicker. If you look away while reviving your teammate, you STOP the reviving process. WHAT? And I haven’t even begun to explain how tedious the bulk of the game gets due to loading screens.
After the two prologue missions, you get thrown into a mission to save an Arcanist. Cool stuff. You shoot things, they die. You spam your extremely powerful abilities, they die faster. The mission ends. Swell stuff right?
WRONG. You get thrust into a loading screen to enter the Post-mission report. After seeing some lengthy cool animation of your medals and achievements, you get shoved into another loading screen to enter your base. After talking to your mission handler, you take another mission. You set up the mission and BOOM. Another loading screen.
Does it end there? Only if you have friends who will wait for you to load up.
Let’s say you’re playing with random people. Some of them have loaded up the mission before you and they run off to complete it. Just as you load up, they reach the objective area. You’re hit with a warning to reach the objective area within 30 seconds. Fail to do so and BLAM, another loading screen. Rinse and repeat for the myriad of instances of this happening and you get the picture. Although I’m pretty sure you’re getting a loading screen instead.
Fortunately, the launch state is better than the Demo version of the game and I haven’t had any disconnections whatsoever. But quite a few people have had that and guess what they had to face to get back into the game.
Hint: Loading screens.
Games like Destiny 2 and The Division have main missions loaded into the map itself. The only time you encounter a loading screen is if you fast travel to a different waypoint or map altogether. Anthem has been in development long enough to see these mechanics and implement them. Has BioWare really forgotten how to develop games?
Hope for the future (?)
It’s not all bad for the game though. As I’ve said before, the launch state of the game is vastly better than the god-awful demos we had. Performance on my GTX 1080 equipped system is significantly better. No disconnections as well.
Gameplay and progression feel balanced enough. And quite frankly I’m having a lot of fun murdering things with my gear. The distinct “Ka-ching” sound of the combo detonations are honestly the best part of the combat. It’s like hitting a jackpot in a slot machine but instead, you obliterated a squad of scars with your mortar fire.
The world is as beautiful as ever. The lush forests give way to deep ravines, sharp cliff faces, and rapid flowing waterfalls. The map is tailor-made for flying around in your Javelin and periodically cooling it off using water bodies dotted around the map. Arguably one of the strongest aspects of the game is how the movement system and combat weave into each other seamlessly.
I’m not going to talk about the narrative since I’m too early in the game to confidently say anything. And I’m fully expecting some BioWare twists along the way. More on that in our upcoming review of Anthem.
I’m sorry if the bulk of this seems like I hate Anthem but I don’t. I dislike what it currently is and what it promised before launch. Everything the game promises could’ve been done if BioWare and EA had waited for just that one more year.
Developers and publishers fail to realize that a game with more polished features will retain players for longer times than an “ever-developing game” with a half-assed launch. Anthem will bleed players as soon as it launches on 22nd February. But I’m hopeful that BioWare will pick up where they have left with their promised launch day patch and their Echoes of Reality update in March. I want them to. The more good games we have, the more developers will try to improve their games quality wise. And as an ardent fan of the looter-shooter genre, there’s nothing better than grinding for hours to get that perfect build. And dare I hope that one day, we will get that perfect game at launch. Not today though.
I spend my waking hours mostly playing games and grinding for gear while blasting music on max volume. In my off time, I can be found browsing reddit or the internet in general in search of obscure knowledge about said games.