BioWare's Anthem video game is EA's first new IP in a decade, but it's being compared to everything from Destiny to the studio's own Mass Effect series - but the thing is, Anthem seems to be correcting Destiny's mistakes. From the get-go, Anthem has been an ambitious project for BioWare, as they're tackling facets of the gaming industry that they aren't all too experienced with, but what's interesting is that they're approaching the new title as if it were another BioWare game - the good BioWare games, that is - and that is what's going to set the game apart.
Earlier this year, Screen Rant had the opportunity to go hands-on with Anthem at E3 2018, and play through the mission that was shown during Anthem's E3 2018 trailer. We walked away with a better understanding of what Anthem is and a more optimistic outlook of what it could be. However, there were still some story questions and longevity concerns that remained after that approximately 20-minute alpha test, and BioWare touched upon all of that in a press briefing this morning ahead of The Game Awards 2018, where EA released a brand new Anthem trailer focusing on story and lore.
It's clear from BioWare's hour-long presentation that Anthem is the start of something entirely different for the studio, and the world they've created (which still doesn't have an official name) is a medley of various elements from some of the biggest and best triple-A games out there, which of course includes Bungie's Destiny, even if the developers choose to distance themselves from that title. BioWare designed Anthem to be a shared experience, one that places a focus on cooperative play but can also be played alone. The point of the online game is to give players the options to either play with their friends or by themselves, but to also, most importantly, negate the need to "find six people on Reddit to play with."
Anthem's Game Awards 2018 Trailer
Anthem's Story & Lore
Only a brief part of Anthem's world has been revealed thus far, and BioWare is remaining mum on the rest of the game in order to avoid spoilers. While this is an online game at its core, it's one that's entirely story-driven; practically every aspect of Anthem is purpose-built, according to game director John Warner and lead producer Mike Gamble. And all of that is evident in the open world as well as in Fort Tarsis, the city and central hub that Anthem players will take missions from and spend downtime in. It's a place that has a sprawling population, but it's a city that continues to change and evolve over time.
From Fort Tarsis, players can embark on all sorts of missions and adventures, either alone or with a group of friends (and Anthem's difficulty will scale depending on the number of players in the group). For those that aren't aware, Anthem's players are known as Freelancers, and they are part of an order that descends from General Tarsis' original Legion of Dawn, which has since splintered into the Freelancers (Anthem's heroes), the Sentinels (Fort Tarsis' police force), and the Dominion (Anthem's villains). Each "faction" has their own javelins, but the members aren't necessarily descendants of the Legion of Dawn; they're made up of people who've trained to specialize in their specific jobs.
In Anthem's story, General Tarsis and the Legion of Dawn were responsible for saving the world from the Anthem of Creation (an unknowable force, like gravity, that can be used in many ways, not unlike the Force) and the Shaper gods, the people who created everything and who knew how to operate the Anthem but abandoned the planet centuries ago. And now, the Dominion, particularly a person called The Monitor (seen at the end of Anthem's Game Awards 2018 trailer) is seeking to use the Anthem of Creation in order to establish "peace through force" in the world of Anthem (again, there's no name for this particular planet, though BioWare's devs did explicitly mention that this world has zero connection to Earth).
Over the course of the game, players will routinely make decisions and take on side missions, but this isn't like Dragon Age or Mass Effect. While there are things that players will have to decide, they don't have to make those decisions at any specific point in time; if they want to explore the open world and come back to a mission later, they can. Furthermore, the narrative doesn't splinter into multiple storylines but rather has a definitive beginning, middle, and end. However, that's only one part of the game's story, and that's where Anthem's online experience comes into play.
Anthem's Online World
In recent years, the gaming industry is shifting from one-and-done games to games as services, which means developers and publishers want players to continue to play their games for several months to several years. But supporting those story-driven live service games is what's plaguing developers. Currently, in order to keep players engaged in a story, there must be a steady stream of content. One way to circumvent that, though, is to build a game that allows for "endless adventures," with the story itself being ever-changing - and that's precisely what BioWare says they've done with Anthem's other story, the one that doesn't necessarily end.
According to BioWare's devs, Anthem's central conflict - the conflict surrounding the Anthem of Creation - that players will experience online and with their friends will never end. It's something that will offer new adventures to players every time they log into the game. While the studio didn't go into detail on what that meant and how they will achieve that in the final production, Gamble did say that BioWare has a specific and unique plan in place to "shift the context" of Anthem post-launch. (Details on this particular topic are expected "soon.")
Page 2 of 2: Anthem's Gameplay Experience & Other Notes
- Anthem (2019 Video Game) release date: Dec 13, 2018