The Story So Far…
“In the beginning, the gods [Shapers] harnessed the anthem, a source of pure creation. Wonderous lands erupted into existence. Colossal beasts, creatures, and monsters emerged. But before their work was complete, the gods vanished, leaving behind an unfinished world strewn with the instruments of their creation. The power of the anthem would not be contained, unleashing world-altering cataclysms, transforming and corrupting those that tried to wield its power. Humanity sought a way to survive, so our ancestors created the javelin exosuits, handcrafted armor that gave us superhuman abilities. Our world remains in an eternal struggle between the power of the anthem and the instruments of the gods who formed it. Today, the fate of humanity rests in the hands of a small band of javelin pilots known as the Freelancers.”
Anthem Game Basics
Anthem is a multiplayer, third-person PvE shooter game designed for either solo or co-operative play, allowing for squads of up to four players. It can be played either according to the in-game missions offered by NPCs or by personal exploration of the environment and forts, with mini-missions popping up along the way. As players explore new areas, defeat enemies and complete missions, they will receive XP and possibly loot. But, there will be no loot boxes or secret cards in the game. There is currently no PvP mode in the game.
At the time of Anthem’s launch, there will be four types of javelins available. Each javelin is an exosuit that the player’s human character dons before venturing beyond the walls of Fort Tarsis to perform their missions. Players will start out with the Ranger and will be able to acquire more suits as they progress in the game. The Javelins serve as pseudo classes, but are customizable, thereby allowing for players to create javelins that best suit their personal play style. Another advantage of this game is that squad-modes do not require teams to construct themselves according to standard RPG combat modes. This means that each player can select whichever javelin they would like, without it impacting the overall success rate of any particular mission. New javelin types may be introduced at later stages.
This exosuit offers the most versatility for combatants and is the default suit available to players as they start their adventure. It is skilled at precision-attacks and can equip most gear and weapon types, therefore allowing for the most tactical diversity out of the various types.
The Interceptor is streamlined and compact, centering its usage around agility and speed, rather than force. This makes it ideal for quick, darting, close combat and stealth attacks. It is therefore well-suited for solo play, as well as squad support. However, although it is capable of wielding most weapons, its sleek design precludes heavy weapons usage.
This javelin is ideal for long-range tactical combat, as it has powerful firepower, but low defensive capabilities. Storm exosuits will have the longest jetpack-usage capacity, meaning that players will have to be less concerned with their jetpacks overheating as they play.
While slower than the other javelin types, this exosuit makes up for its lack of agility with its strength, stamina and force. In addition to its tank structure, it is also capable of using heavier weapon types that are unavailable to the smaller javelin suits.
Outside of loot-drops, in-game cosmetics and items can be either earned, found or purchased, depending on the item. All cosmetics are purely aesthetic, therefore disallowing for a pay-to-win structure. All cosmetics are reusable, so players won’t have to worry about losing their acquisitions along the way. That’s certainly a bonus, given that the game itself will need to be purchased in order to access the base content.
All Javelins will have air, land and underwater use-cases. Although no combat occurs in water zones, injuries can still occur from above-water fire. These areas are useful for stealth purposes, as well as enabling players to cool-down their javelins’ jetpacks. However, their suites can become waterlogged, so they shouldn’t remain underwater for too long, either. Javelins are interchangeable outside of missions, but not while a player is currently engaged in a particular mission. Furthermore, each javelin as limited inventory space, so players will need to choose their equipment and items wisely when going on missions.
Squad vs. Solo
Mark Darrah, the executive producer of Anthem, has stated that while the missions and boss battles will be adjusted somewhat to suit party-size, the missions are designed with a four-person squad in mind. This means that solo-gamers will have their work cut out for them to progress through the game alone. On the other hand, while players will not be able to change their suits mid-mission, they will be able to alter their party size. This means that players can enter and leave parties whenever it suits them to do so, without their having to worry about disrupting the remaining party-members’ gameplay. Rather than being a monster-hunter game, it is objective- and exploration-based, meaning that experience and in-game rewards are earned through progress. There are no loot backs or chests, but there are drops from enemies. It should be noted that this is not an MMO game, as the storyline and quests occur according to each player’s decisions and do not impact on the gameplay of other players.
Free Play mode however, is targeted mainly towards solo play. It allows players to scavenge, lore-hunt and gather items, while also enabling them to meet other players and potentially joining together to form informal groups. Once the final boss is defeated this feature, coupled with NPC missions, will likely be the way in which players will be able to continue enjoying the gameplay.
The entire planet comprises of jungle zones and fortresses, with no snow or desert zones. The game outside of the hub is implemented as an open-world, meaning that one may encounter other players. All player decisions are made solely within Fort Tarsis, which acts as the game’s main hub. The Strider acting as a miniature hub. Players will also have their own apartments that will serve as personal bases for their character. Each hub can only be explored solo, so as to allow each player to unfurl the story at their own pace. All story decisions are personal and will affect how each player’s game unfolds in the long-run, both in terms of their relationships with the NPCs, as well as the geographic make-up of the outside world.
There are areas that a player should stay away from prior to gaining the relevant levels and equipment. It is a ‘living’ game, as the world is constantly changing and evolving, based on player decisions and story events. Therefore, it is possible for a player to play the game indefinitely, even after the main boss is defeated.
Although javelins will be able to fly quite high in the game, there will still be height restrictions enforced on the suits due to the world’s high turbulence. This is also why there are no aircraft in the game.
- Online only
- Character creator: each players in-game character will only be visible to the player themselves when they are engaging with NPCs in the Tarsis Fortress and in the personal apartment.
- No AI party members
- In-game items are not tradable
- There will also be emotes.
- Shooting points and stats can be turned off or resized, according to a player’s preferences.
Final Thoughts on the New Anthem Game
This game looks terrific at face value: there is diversity, world and story building, mini-goals to achieve, both solo and squad options, and various cosmetic customizations, all of which seems to hint at a potentially epic (excuse the pun) new online RPG. The question of course, is whether it will be able to live up to the hype, offer gameplay that’s as smooth and glitch-free as the trailers seem to promise, and whether the servers will be able to handle the burden of tens of thousands of players inundating the servers simultaneously. So far, relatively new titles such as Destiny 2 failed to meet the hype and were bug-ridden, at least at their initial release, thus failing to capture the gaming market to the extent that they could otherwise have done.
However, despite the various set-backs faced by the production team, there are a few factors that the game does have in its favor, namely:
- Time: the game has been under production since 2012, so this wasn’t a rush job (we hope);
- Technology: graphic and programing tools are constantly evolving, and newer games such as Fortnite and CoD:BO 4 have certainly benefitted from this, albeit, their mechanics are far less complex than a game like Anthem;
- Aesthetics: the game promises to be gorgeous. That alone might keep gamers interested despite any initial set-backs that are to be expected when a game launches; and
- Experience: EA Game’s BioWare team has produced both massive successes such as Mass Effect and Dragon Age: Origins, as well as failures like Mass Effect Andromeda have hopefully given the studio an idea of what works and what doesn’t in a video game franchise.
The potential is there, it just needs to be realized and managed effectively. But, as with any project, the only way to know is to see what happens at launch.
February 22, 2019