While I was at EA Play 2018, myself and some others got to see almost 30 minutes of closed-doors footage from Anthem. While it was hands-off, a group of the developers from BioWare played the game in front of us. The demo was an extended look at the footage seen earlier that day at the EA Play 2018 conference. So, let’s go over what was shown. Here’s my Anthem impressions!
The first thing that became obvious was that Anthem is an extremely vertical game. When the gameplay was first revealed back at the Xbox E3 2017 conference, I wasn’t sure that flight and mobility were actually in the hands of the players. That fear is gone: using the jetpacks equipped on the Javelin mechs, you can dash, hover, dive underwater or fly into the air. This adds an impressive sense of depth of the gameplay, as well as different ways of interacting with your environment. If your flight jets are overheating, flying under a waterfall will temporarily cool them off.
Combat looks great, with a wide variety of different weapons and attachments for the four different Javelin mechs. Rockets, machine guns, shields, slam attacks and more are all available. You can also perform combo attacks, with different abilities combining in different ways with each other, adding more tactical layers to how a squad plays together. Enemy variety seems solid, with alien spider-like monsters, mercenaries and even a huge colossus making an appearance. It’s also worth mentioning that the game looks great in motion, with environments like lush jungles and vast caves filled with forgotten alien technology.
My last remaining concern for Anthem is the story. BioWare’s pedigree has always been their focus on extremely strong narratives, with the stories in games like Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect and Dragon Age all standing out in even years later. Here, while the concept of the world of Anthem seems strong, there doesn’t appear to be any standout characters. BioWare has even confirmed that there won’t be any optional romances at launch, which have always status quo in their games.
Anthem has definitely addressed what concerns I had about things like combat, enemy variety, and most importantly movement. With that said, I definitely want to see a strong focus on the narrative and storytelling elements moving forward, since that’s what BioWare is known for. At least for me, a focused story is important in convincing me to spend time in this world. Anthem is releasing on February 22nd, 2019 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.