I spent the weekend living out my dreams of being like Iron Man, with BioWare’s Anthem allowing me to fly around beautiful environments as I rained down fire on hordes of enemy creatures.
The gunplay is very satisfying, where throughout the weekend I had that urge to jump back into another expedition and slay more waves of alien hordes. There is a good variety of weapons, where I have still yet to test out all the arsenal available in the demo. Each weapon has varying stats and rarities, all of which can be obtained from loot drops when completing missions. The heavy weapons such as the light machine guns and sniper rifles are particularly enjoyable to use, which are the most effective against the big enemy bosses.
An important aspect of any PvE game is having intelligent AI enemies, where unfortunately Anthem’s AI leaves much to be desired. The main issues are the slow reactions of enemies, where they don’t react to your presence until a few seconds later and by that time you can fire at an enemy and then relocate to finish the job without even a scratch. In addition, the AI will just shoot at an object in front of you such as a rock or barrier, instead of just moving around the obstacle to cause you problem. Luckily, the big bosses have a few more brain cells and offer a really challenging battle at the end of an expedition, where I would go as far to say that the bosses have just as much variety as enemies in Monster Hunter World.
The four javelins (Ranger, Interceptor, Storm and Colossus) are the impressive mech suits in the game and is what difiniterates Anthem from the Destiny franchise. You can only play as two types of javelins on each account during the demo, where I played as both the Ranger and Storm loadouts. The javelin designs are awesome, where I spent a good 20 minutes designing my javelin’s appearance such as its colour and armour. The best aspect of the javelin is using your ultimate, which is a powerful ability that can vaporise your enemies. It is similar to Overwatch’s character ultimates, but is 10x the spectacle and epicness.
Anthem is best played with friends, where you can squad up with three extra players to improve your experience. It feels badass when you all fly off together in your group and makes the repetitive killing of enemies far less tedious.
The world is beautiful with sprawling tropical forests and towering caves, however the world still somehow feels empty, where I have no interest in exploring the environment in free-roam. The music that should bring this world to life is very forgettable, where on some occasions there is no music at all. However like any AAA EA game that runs on the Frostbite engine, the particle and sound effects are incredible, with the game boasting the best sound effects I have ever heard in a video game.
My biggest worry about the game after playing the demo is its lack of story. The few expeditions available in the demo were not engaging and had very forgettable storylines. Often during the mission I had forgot what our objective was as I had no interest in the story, but was more engaged in just fending off the waves of enemies that I was battling. The characters were also generic and cheesy, such as your companion Faye whose main dialogue consists of giving orders and saying ‘well done’ or ‘return to the combat area’.
My understanding is that the expeditions available on the demo are only side missions, so hopefully the main quests will offer much more story depth. Since I have played Red Dead Redemption 2, my expectations of side missions in AAA games has become very high, where Anthem should be aiming to have strong narrative in all of it’s expeditions. I’m very hopeful that Anthem will provide an intriguing story as Jay Watamaniuk is the lead writer on the project, who was the brains behind the Mass Effect series and their great single player storytelling.
The game was riddled with bugs throughout the weekend such as vanishing enemies, infinite loading screens and loss of XP at the end of a mission. The demo version is apparently a two months old build, so hopefully by the time of official release these bugs will be fixed.
Overall I really enjoyed the game, especially the social aspect with friends and being able to fly around in these cool mech suits. My main worry is whether BioWare can create an engaging story that keeps me interested in the games’ lure, but I am hopeful that the experienced team at BioWare won’t disappoint. Anthem is set to release on 22 February on all major platforms.