Game Review - Anthem
Anthem has been a game I’ve been excited about since i first heard about it. I’ve never played a game from its launch before. I typically come to them a few years later, after everyone has done all the content and has no patience for a noob who has no clue what he’s doing. So with the launch of Anthem this month, I had the novel experience of playing a game where everyone is a noob to some degree.
Looter shooters are typically not my type of game, but that’s because most are first person, and I’ve always sucked at first person shooters... you should see me play Star Wars Battlefront II! It’s comical how bad I am! Anthem is played in third person, which is much more my kind of thing. Not only that, it’s a sci-fi themed story with mechanised suits that enable you to fly around. Awesome!
To say that Anthem is having a rocky release would be an understatement, but there are plenty of other places to read about the numerous bugs in the game, and although I’ve had the odd glitch or crash, I’ve really been enjoying the game, and no doubt most of these issues will be ironed out over time, making it even better.
Anthem is set on a distant world, with its own unique history and lore. The landscape is littered with huge monolithic structures and relics, left by ‘The Shapers’, who are considered to be creators of sorts. They used ‘The Anthem of Creation’ to shape the world, but then, for some unknown reason, abandoned it and left. There’s far more to this story, which you can check out here.
You take on the role as a freelancer, effectively, a mercenary for hire. The world is traversed in ‘Javelins’, which are basically Iron-Man-esque mechanical suits that enable you to jump and fly around, as well as use various abilities. It really is so much fun... and they also work underwater! There are currently four javelins to choose from, each with their own look, abilities, and play style. I’ve found myself almost exclusively using the Interceptor, which is the most agile javelin, and allows me to jump around the battlefield and ninja down my enemies.
Story has always been Bioware’s forte, and the lore and setting they’ve come up with for Anthem are epic! For the most part the main story is decent, with a nice twist in it at one part. I do think they should have made more of the main villain. He needed more time to become truly menacing. That being said, this is only the beginnings of the story, and the plan is role out regular content updates in the future, so we shall see how the world of Anthem unfolds.
As of writing this (I’m currently on a plane to Romania to do a talk), I’ve clocked over 100 hours of playtime in Anthem, and I’m still eager to play more. It’s not as much of an MMORPG as I’d like, but I’m making friends already via Origin and Discord. I definitely prefer these kinds of simple gameplay mechanics over the convoluted stuff you have to remember in other games. That’s not to say Anthem isn’t challenging. I still need to work out what it is that’s almost one-shotting me out of nowhere! The good thing is, the game has only just been released, so I’ve got plenty of time to find out!
One of the things I really appreciate in this game is that it doesn’t force you to create alternative characters in order to experience different types of gameplay. Your pilot level is your pilot level, but you unlock and have access to any of the javelins, and can chop and change as often as you feel like, without having to go through the entire levelling process again.
As much as I don’t like being negative, there are a number of things that Anthem needs to do better in order to succeed long term. Firstly, the story is far too short. I’m sure more story will be added over time, but on release, I was actually a bit disappointed with how quick the story ended. Having played other Bioware games, the stories have often been a little bit too drawn out, so whilst I appreciate them cutting it down a bit, I do feel they’ve gone a little too far on this occasion. After finishing the story and reaching level 30, the end game situation is where the biggest problem is. There’s not enough content right now to keep people playing on a daily basis. Sure there’s repeatable contracts and strongholds, but with only a handful of the same ones over and over, it can get boring quite fast, especially when the rewards for completing them are rather underwhelming.
With all that being said, I am really enjoying Anthem, for the most part. It definitely has potential as a game for the long term, provided they can fix all the bugs and end game issues. The dev team at Bioware have been very communicative with the player base, which is to be commended. I just hope they can get all the pieces in place fast enough before too many frustrated people find other games to play. I for one, will be trying to stick it out as long as possible, in the hope that Anthem becomes the game I really want it to be.