The Anthem Of Creation
Before we really dive into Anthem, we have to address the elephant in the room. The launch of the VIP demo was absolutely atrocious, and it sucks that it was such a significant issue for so long. Infinite loading screens at 95% (what a tease), crashes, booting to the home screen, but most of all the connectivity issues that plagued the game for over 24hrs. It was obvious to see that this turned quite a few people away from Anthem unfortunately, but we also have to be thankful this happened during a demo and not launch day. These things do happen and it’s better to get them out of the way for a smooth game play experience. Major thanks to the BioWare team that worked endlessly through the weekend to fix the issues as quickly as possible. Hopefully the open demo will be much better, and launch day goes off without a hitch.
How was the demo overall though? Well, it met some expectations but didn’t fulfill others. Let’s go over what stood out the most in Anthem. First off is the flying. It looked fun in all those trailers, and of course it’s insanely fun when you are in control. It’s actually refreshing that you have to manage your heat when flying too. Having to skim the surfaces of water, diving down waterfalls and into lakes all play a role in having you explore the world and also figure out the best flight paths. All the javelins have the same flight time, so if you really want to go far make sure you keep your jets cool. Diving into a pond and flying back out, or flying through a waterfall will allow your jets to keep cool for an extended period of time before starting to heat back up again. So the more you chain cooling off, the farther you will go. The controls are a little weird to start off, but once you get the hang of it there is little issue of control. Properly managing your flight will make you a master of mobility and combat. Watch out for enemies that have “Heat/Fire” attacks, they will overload your jets and force you to crash land.
The world that has been created for Anthem is a beautiful one. It almost screams “Avatar”, being bright and lively with many hidden dangers and animals. Example of an animal to watch out for is the Wyverns, who will shoot you down mid-flight with fire. Not to mention Titans and other giant beasts you have to keep an eye out for. Anthem was really fun to explore. There are so many hidden gems like underground caves, fortresses, ancient statues and hidden oasis’s. A large portion of the enjoyment for Anthem will be experiencing this very unique and well crafted world. With lore heavily embedded for you to randomly discover, it could be a long while before you run out of things to do while exploring. This is including all the random world events that may happen. They only trigger though once you get near them. This allows for the more “Stumble upon” experience rather than pulling up a map and heading to the event (Destiny). You never know what you will end up finding every time you fly off into the world.
Sounds pretty decent right? I have to touch on a couple concerns though. The demo build is very specific and designed of course for a small taste. I wasn’t expecting to see such small pockets of wildlife though. Most areas seemed vast and empty, and I can only hope this is just because of it being a demo and won’t reflect on the full game. Same goes with the amount of random event’s that happen and large monster encounters. They seemed very far and few between each event, sometimes going hours without one appearing in free play. Again, I can only hope this doesn’t reflect on the full game and the world will be more fleshed out.
Lets move onto the Javelins. Ranger, Colossus, Storm, Interceptor. All four are fairly balanced, and boast their own unique play style. There is a suit, suited for everyone (Yeah I said it). I’ll give a quick breakdown of each javelin and their suited play styles. Key thing to remember, is to constantly use your abilities and rotate their cooldowns. Some abilities can recharge very quickly, so use them wisely to use your javelin to its most potential.
Ranger: This is the javelin you start off with. Designed for being a balanced powerhouse, the Ranger is a viable suit for both close range combat and at a distance. Even though the Ranger doesn’t perform spectacularly in one specific area, it boasts being the Swiss Army Knife out of the four.
Colossus: Trying to catch some lead? This big guy is for you! This javelin doesn’t have a standard shield like the other suits, but boasts a massive health bar and a giant steel shield to use to ward off attacks. That giant steel shield is your replacement of that missing shield bar. Proper use and management will be the key to owning the Colossus. Combine proper shield usage with heavy fire power and auto cannons.. Well, you’re gonna have a good time.
Storm: This is my personal favorite. The Storm is your eye in the sky damage dealer. The ability to use hover and amplify your shield at the same time while having a very low jet heat build up, you can stay up high for a long time. The shield is the most important factor for the Storm, because if you are not careful it will deplete quickly and you have a very small amount of health. Use any type of mods to increase your shield strength, and take to the skies to rain fire upon your enemies.
Interceptor: This javelin is designed for those quick, rogue/ninja like players that love to throw some punches. The Interceptor is the most agile of the suits, allowing you to dodge up to 3 times before cool down; same with your melee hits which have no cool down. This is definitely a melee focused Javelin, but don’t let that stop you from using your guns to deal damage from range. If you have played Warframe and enjoyed the mobility, you will love the Interceptor.
You can’t complete your experience without making your javelin look the way you want it to, right? Rest assured, the appearance system for your javelin is incredible. Being able to choose textures (Cloth, Leather, Metal, Plastic, Rubber) as well as patterns, vinyls, different gear and a custom color wheel gives you endless options. This heavily extensive appearance system was fun to fiddle around with. I made multiple different variations to my javelin throughout the VIP Demo. It was almost addicting. You can really make some fantastic looking combinations for your Javelin.
How about the Strongholds? That “Taste” of end game content available at launch. The one that can be played in the demo is actually pretty fun. It’s the same one that has been shown off in trailers and dev streams, fighting a giant Tick/Spider like monster. The Stronghold was broken down into three parts, where you receive a chest at the end of the first two sections. They had you destroying enemies and turrets, silencing shaper relics and scrambling to collect items. For “End Game” content, it felt underwhelming. Was really nothing more than a dungeon run. It’s great that I had a fun time, but I really don’t want to be able to farm end game content shortly after I hit the required level to start it. Thankfully this is where difficulty will come into play. The higher the difficulty, the better the loot. This does allow and give good reason to put content like this on “Farm” status. It will keep you pushing for better gear, climbing the ladder to be the most powerful javelin out there.
Overall from my experience with the VIP demo there is an incredible game to be played. I just hope that post-launch Anthem will receive the proper content treatment that it deserves. This game needs to be handled with care in the long term, balancing between the casual player and the hardcore. Time and again developers have made that mistake, and have driven off players from continually engaging with their game. Anthem truly has the potential to be something great, as long as it delivers the experience fans want. So far, it’s looking that way but we can’t really know until after launch. There is a lot to discover and enjoy in Anthem, and will be one of the few games coming out this year that could deliver Game Of The Year experiences.