Anthem is such a strange game as it’s a combination of what other loot and shoot games currently offer, to compare it to other 3rd person ‘loot shooters’ would be reductive, so during this review I’m going to try and steer clear of that.
As soon so you start up the game and are thrown into the prologue which also acts as the games tutorial, you are given exactly what you expect from a Bioware title; beautifully rendered environments and amazing story segments. You’re introduced to the world in a spectacular fashion, however the game starts to go down hill from here, at least when discussing the narrative of the game.
Once you’ve begun to delve deeper into the game, the narrative becomes a means of progression. The way this is presented to you is as followed: You’re in Fort Taris (The single player hub) and you meet one of the well written and fantastically rendered NPCs who gives you your mission, heading back to your Javelin you choose which mission you want to embark on, on the main map you head towards your objective with your squad while there is flavour text in the background, meet objectives, potential boss encounter where respawning is prohibited, victory. Repeat.
There are a few things which go through my mind when discussing Anthem, is a story required in a Loot and Shoot game, does the player base actually care? Personally the answer is no. You’re after solid game play, fun objectives and awesome loot which distinguish your Javelin from the other players. We do however, need to take into considering that this is a Bioware title and with that there are certain expectations – The game fails to meet them.
Let’s shift focus onto the strengths of the game. The combat is amazing and the variations between the different Javelin classes create enough distinction where there is a play style for everyone. The Colossus the tank, The Ranger the all-rounder, The Storm the mage, The Interceptor the Rogue. Throughout the 30 hours of my play through I was playing as the Ranger, arguably the most generic of the selection – Which fits my taste.
The Ranger has access to a variety of grenades and missiles which can be used to freeze, set on fire or poison their enemies. I felt like I was playing the game wrong for the first 20 hours, as I wasn’t using combos correctly… A combo is exactly what it sounds like, a combination of abilities which deal additional damage so for example I can freeze the enemy with one ability then shatter them for increased damage using another.
There is a section in the game which I hated with a passion while playing through Anthem however on reflection it’s helped me get the skills I need to be able to defeat difficult content. It’s at this point I realised that I was playing the game in the least optimal way. The section I’m talking about is Mission 9 where you’re tasked with going into free roam and getting access to four tombs hidden across the world. One of these tasks was to perform x number of combos and it appeared that I had been performing them, just not enough. This challenge in itself got me to figure out how the game truly played and now I’m always utilising them.
There is a huge emphasis on customisation where you’ve got complete control over how your Javelin looks. Early on in the story this is referred to as bringing the thunder, the idea of how you look effects the moral of your enemies. However there is a distinct lack of physical parts available to customise with but, you can dye your Javelin in anyway you want, complete with different materials. If you’re looking for a more battle tested set, you can choose to have a more damaged metal – This level of customisation has resulted in being teamed up with a lot of Iron Man cosplayers online.
While there aren’t a lot of cosmetic pieces available and there is a lack of unique weapon models in the game but you start to find more unique visuals as you progress, these are set to improve over subsequent updates. We’ll just have to wait and see how these turn out. Emotes are used efficiently to add personality to your character. As a new Freelancer you’ve got the ability to throw a flare, clap and wave. Not only this, you can unlock additional animations for how you enter a mission and complete one. When you first start a mission your Javelin will land in hero style, this can be changed to landing in and offering your team a salute.
I don’t know what it is that I like about being able to take screenshots with developed in-game tools that I love, but Anthem has such amazing environments that I’m a little disappointed that there isn’t anything available to videogame photographers. There is a feature which is almost hidden from you in the form of an AFK (Away-from-keyboard) mode. The UI is removed, the camera focuses on your character and a blur is applied to your surroundings. When this is happening you’re able to position the camera around your character and use the emotes you’ve got mapped to your directional pad, allowing you to create some profile images of your Javelin and the effort you’ve gone through to customise them. The visuals alone are a massive draw in for some players, let us share this with the world – Please develop this feature further Bioware.
We can’t talk about an EA published game without mentioning micro-transactions. There are paid options in Anthem BUT everything is cosmetic, alternatively you can purchase everything with in-game currency. Essentially you’re paying for a shortcut to pimp yourself out. At the time of writing this there is nothing which is grossly overpriced, it’ll only become easier as you progress through the title.
Anthem is a mixed bag – it’s difficult to overlook that fact. What we have been provided with is a solid foundation which is set to be expanded upon over the following year through continuous updates and hot fixes. We’ve seen titles come out over the last couple of years which came out to a lukewarm reception and are now must own titles. I’m excited to see how this ‘games as a service’ model evolves. The world is beautiful and is easy to get lost in; the gameplay mechanics available are tight and responsive.
Anthem is a solid:
If you’re on the fence with Anthem, take some time and check out our playthrough available on our YouTube Channel: