Anthem only needed a couple of things to go right to be a success and at a glance, it’s one of the most highly polished titles we’ve seen from one of the biggest developers in the world. It’s a deceptive game in the sense that from the moment you see the world, it’s characters and scenery you’re blown away by how gorgeous everything is. Then you play the game. It starts strong, throwing you into the midst of an epic battle where aliens and humans face off in a battle to the death. What happens next is a disappointment, the new game smell wares off and you see the game for exactly what it is, a pretty but buggy and soulless game that fails to show BioWare’s unique storytelling ability.

The Story

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Anthem is set on an alien planet where the human race are working towards survival thanks to exo-suit wearing warriors called Freelancers. On this planet, the aliens have shaped the environment using the power of the Anthem of Creation, a mystical energy source of sorts. These “Shapers” as they are known, have now done a runner and left all their Anthem-infused power tools still running, which causes all sorts of apocalyptic accidents that Freelancers are tasked with preventing.

Sounds exciting right? Well not exactly, the story feels like it’s half finished and even the well made characters can’t save it.

The Grind

After the initial mission you will find yourself in a place called Fort Tartis which is a small enclosed city, this is your home and main hub. You play as something called a Freelancer aka a warrior in a mech suit and this is where you return to make your upgrades, talk to NPC’s and pick up your contracts.

When you begin you’re going to be eager to talk to all the characters within the fort so you can get started powering up, gathering loot and get cracking with the storyline. And then it starts to go wrong. Levelling up is a slow and painful grind while the repetitiveness of Anthem starts becoming boring and tedious.

Missions start to blend together and you don’t get a proper grounding around the villain’s motives or the heroes hardships. This means you rarely have a clear understanding of what’s happening or why it matters.

Slogging Away

Here’s Anthem in a nutshell – grab a contract, do the mission, return to base, repeat. Anthem lacks a natural story progression that we have seen in games like Spider-Man and Read Dead and to be honest it would benefit massively from a clearer storyline, that way you’re not constantly jumping in and out of your base for things to do.

Playing with friends is also a bit of a bother. If they are in a different part of the story to you, they won’t make any progress by joining you on a mission. Why I do not know. Also, waiting for them to endlessly talk to NPC’s and constantly travelling back to base kind of takes the enjoyment out of playing with mates.

And finally, it’s just such a slog in my opinion. Around mid-way through the game gets bogged down with too many characters and not enough character development/relationship building. It becomes repetitive and that brings me onto the problem called the Tombs of the Legionaires.

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This is essentially a side quest where you have to explore four different caves. Not bad, but to enter each tomb you need to complete a ridiculous amount of tedious tasks. Collect 20 chests, 10 collectables, beat 50 enemies and entry could be yours. I’ll pass. Such was the blowback from gamers towards BioWare, they changed the mission so that your actions in free play mode contribute to the lists once you reach level three. If you’re like me and you won’t spend much time in freeplay then it’s pointless. It’s really a shame because it’s a fine looking game, with promising aspects, it’s just not hitting the mark.

It’s not all bad

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Really it’s not. It’s a brilliant looking game. The architecture and scenery are proper stunning while the wildlife around you is slickly done. It’s a complete 180 from the normal apocalyptic wastland vibe you get from most similiar games, namely Destiny 2.

Flying is also pretty cool and it makes travel a breeze. It feels a lot more free than the story ever does and the suits themselves are amazingly detailed with slightly different flying characteristics. It makes for a really nice experience and jumping about to reset yourself in battle will always have you cracking a smile.

So the flying and scenery are good, but it’s the combat where the game really comes to life. The combat visuals are something to see and when you start getting proper weapons, fighting is great craic.

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So there’s four Javelin classes, you start as the Ranger and as you level up you start leveling up you unlock new suits. Every suit has it’s own different flying characteristics, abilities, strenghts etc and these are:

The Collossus: A slow, sturdy tank like machine

The Interceptor: A fast/agile melee machine

The weapons themselves are ranked by rarity and power which correlate its strength and with the addition of components and inscriptions you can customize and upgrade your suit. To be fair that is fun.

Money Money Money

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Speaking about upgrading the suit, as per the usual now microtransactions are a big deal for Anthem. Any form of visual customization like emotes and cosmetics are going to cost you a few beans.

Speaking about upgrading the suit, as per the usual now microtransactions are a big deal for Anthem. Any form of visual customization like emotes and cosmetics are going to cost you a few beans.

Within the game you can purchase armour and materials using coins you collect throughout the game but you can also use microtransactions to get what you want. This is helped by the fact that gathering coins is a pain making it easier to just buy the upgrades if you wish. For example, gathering 40,000 coins can take over 10 hours.

Longevity

You can complete the campaign in about 20-25 hours roughly but realistically Anthem is going to be dependant on downloadable content to extend its lifespan. If they can bring out some fresh ideas and fix some of the bugs and problems then maybe it can spark some life back into the title and we can have something fun to play. However if things continue as they are then Anthems best bet is going to be having a small niche of dedicated players.

Goosed Verdict

It could have been an incredible game, but let’s call a spade a spade here. Anthem is just not up to scratch! Sorry but it is, I find you spend a lot of time scratching your head simply asking yourself “Why?” Just why is this game not what it should have been.

I don’t want to seem like I didn’t have any fun on the game but it just seems to lack the basic fundamentals of what a game like this needs to work. Players have begun boycotting the game in order to get a bug re-introduced that actually made the game better and that probably says all you need to know really. Anthem is flawed from start to finish and although I’d love to be proven wrong, I’m skeptical that they can do enough to get the players back on board.

The company behind Anthem, BioWare have already detailed some of the changes that will be coming in the new couple of weeks and months. As the game is a “live service game” we should expect that Anthem will change a fair bit, not unlike Destiny 2 or The Division. In fairness to BioWare they seem open to feedback and they are doing their best to respond to it as fast as possible, which is nice. Sadly they have lost me and I won’t be coming back and I imagine that’s the case for most people who have tried Anthem.

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