Well, it’s that time of year once again and as it tends to do, E3 opened with EA’s conference, featuring their regular headline titles such as Madden NFL, Battlefield & Fifa… However, I’m not writing this article to focus on them, instead, I’m writing this to express my thoughts and personal opinion about the demonstration of Bioware’s newest title: Anthem. I will be doing my best to provide a fair judgement of the presentation and leave my bias from the Mass Effect trilogy out of this article.
Anthem (from what we have seen and heard so far) seems to be confused about what it wants to be, it has all these hard-technological weapons and abilities, yet there’s a “Javelin” (the name of the exosuits a player character controls) which seems to be throwing red blasts of energy or magic around the battlefield, while also shielding itself with said energy/magic.
The main reason I can’t definitively say whether this is some kind of energy or magic is that the game clearly has sci-fi designs, but has a lot of hard-fantasy elements, such as the existence of literal ‘gods’, the (so far) unexplained “Anthem of creation” & “Dominion”. One of these forces sounds and is presented as some kind of semi-magical technology and the other a
Monarchist Terran faction potentially human-led faction, but there’s also the existence of these mutating and colossal creatures, most of which look humanoid in nature. Bioware hasn’t actually laid out what the rules in this universe is, so everything is rather vague and, quite frankly, confusing in the worst kind of way.
Another big thing mentioned during the Anthem-oriented section of EA’s E3 conference this year was the comment stating developers could add story and lore to the game for “years to come”, which to me is both confusing & concerning, as Bioware has two other franchises under its belt: Dragon Age & Mass Effect, both of which already have established universes, loyal (if not a bit fanatical) fans who could end up asking the question ‘what about us?’; With accompanying comments such as ‘Our world, my story’ and ‘I would like everybody to at least try the co-op’, it sounds as though Bioware want Anthem to be in that genre of ‘Game as a service’ rather than a definitively finished product. There were also mentions of “trying to combine the impact of having your own personal story and playing with other players”, though how in-depth this will be and what defines your story differently to a fellow players story, is as of yet undefined.
The way Anthem displays itself is also indicative of this direction, presenting damage values similar to how an MMORPG such as Guild Wars 2 or other ‘games as a service’ products such as The Division or Destiny would and have previously been putting a heavy focus on obtaining in-game loot. Anthem has also been making claims of a ‘constantly changing world’.
Anthem will be featuring a way to customize the aesthetics of your “Javelin” suits and even weapons, though whether this is simply changing skins or a colour scheme for your suit is unknown to me, as they only showed off a number of skins for the Ranger Javelin, nothing more.
The big question everyone has, however, is that of monetization: will there be lootboxes in Anthem? to which a Bioware developer answered, “No, there will be no lootboxes.” and the crowd began to cheer and clap at this spectacular news! Though this would be the only thing in the entire Anthem presentation, that the crowd would cheer for, even when the developers at the conference stated there would be a playable Anthem demo currently available for them at E3, there was only clapping.
There were a few smaller details I noticed during the gameplay demonstration they had at this years E3:
- Players seem to be capable of activating their jets at will and can even traverse through the water with them.
- The voice acting seems to be a little underwhelming when compared to previous Bioware casting and the time between sentences seems to be a little off.
Overall, it seems as though Bioware hasn’t really brought anything new to the table in regards to Anthem asides from stuff we already knew would be in the game, if anything it has just been more of the same.
If you’re excited about the release of Anthem, you might be happy to hear that it finally has a release date: 22/02/19.