Despite being fairly intrigued by Anthem when it was originally revealed (a game with good pedigree behind it in Bioware, an interesting art style and theme) It wasn’t something I planned to buy on day one as I’d never expected to have the time to commit in the race to ‘get good’ like many multiplayer games that. However I did follow the ensuing controversy that erupted at the games release, the bugs, game play issues near constant price drops.
I recently decided to buy into the game to finally give it a try. Now for a bit of context while I love games like this I’m not a heavy multiplayer gamer, co-operative or competitive. I do however like good stories, presentation, lore and world building and these are all areas that seemed like they’d cater to my interested in gaming that Anthem appeared to have. Much like Phantasy Star Online before it I went in hoping for a meaningful single player experience, or at least something that I’d be able to experience without the need to rely or, or at best require communication from others.
This may seem hypocritical to an extend, Anthem was designed as a co-operative experience, with allowances made for a single player. So it may be that I set my self up for a lesser experience by choosing to play in as lonesome a way as possible. That’s just how I choose to play my games, it’s the form my escapism takes and I try to play games and experience worlds as I’d love to if they were more than just fantasy.
I may be getting a little off topic however, so returning to anthem the opening hour, being single player focused as an introduction to the game is as best as it has been for me so far. It shows Bioware’s character writing at its best, with some great performances that make for some likable characters before your thrust into the early game play.
The game presents its universal lore and terminology both in an opening story dump and through dialog between characters in missions that I find interesting in the scope of the world.. but laughable in its meta context as language. Point in case the term ‘freelancer’ the pilots of the Javelins and people that support them are referred to as such, as a freelancer myself in day to day work I find it an interesting and ironic choice of language to describe what is just a fancier way to say mercenary. It doesn’t end there.. but it does feel more forced then I feel like it needed to be, much like the musicale undertones of the work Anthem (though in the games context it’s the anthem of creation) we also get music based language around that, like ‘silencing’ the Anthem (which basically means close the portal) Its meta-textural but fine within it’s own context, though I wonder how many other names and themes Bioware went through in its creation of the Anthem universe.
Its the game play where you start to feel a lesser experience, though that’s not to say its always bad, but even the prologue feels repetitive with it’s requirements of collecting things over and over, which is the most draining of mission types in any game. While most likely much less an issue when you have a team working on it together as well as tactically splitting up so some handle monsters and others retrieve the require pickup and deliverable.
The standard game play of shooting, melee and additional skills in Anthem are all fine my my standards, there is variation by class from what I’ve seen but after a discussion of Reddit pre-play I decided the ranged class better fit my isolated desire of play style. However for my its the flying that’s actually the most fun, getting from place to place and timing dives to cool down your suit is a fun addition reminiscent of the cape item in Super Mario World. It helps sell the scale of the game when you can take off and see it and helps make the game stand apart when so few areas of it seem to differ from other big open games.
My one grip is that the game play shifts to first person when out of your Javelin suit, I’m not a great lover of First Person games in general but its a jarring shift that is becoming all to common of games in this generation, I’d have liked to be able to run around in the third person, but I expect this was done this way to try and improve immersion, frame interactions better with the characters (it succeeds there greatly) and avoid the need to have a second customization set of options in civilian mode
I’ve mostly enjoyed my time with Anthem so far, I’ll put the time in when I can but I must admit it’s not great enough to hold all my time and it’s likely going to be my fall back to game when I’m bored with my current focus or between games.. but that may change as I progress, I’ll see how the story grabs me as I progress.