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Anthem Game Awards 2018: BioWare is Correcting Destiny's Mistakes

Anthem game BioWare

Anthem's Gameplay Experience

We've discussed Anthem's gameplay experience before (read our Anthem hands-on preview HERE), but it's worth noting the fundamental aspects of how the game works. It contains a drop-in/drop-out co-op experience, with only one special part of the game that doesn't allow for that (BioWare wouldn't elaborate on why aside from it being a story reason). If players want to go it alone, they can, but if they want to play with a group of other Freelancers, they can do that as well thanks to the matchmaking system. Anthem allows players to play with random people if they choose, and they can survive by doing that without having to talk to those other players. However, there are certain missions at higher difficulties that require more teamwork, of course. But overall, as BioWare joked early on in their presentation (see aforementioned Reddit comment about Destiny), they don't want to limit players for a lack of friends.

Even though they said they don't have any current plans for player versus player (PvP) modes, it's something that they are "tinkering" with; but Anthem is, first and foremost, a player versus environment (PvE) game. One of the reasons BioWare was hesitant about looking into PvP in the first place is because, in doing so, they would need to balance the Javelins' powers and abilities. Considering that the Javelins are supposed to make players feel like superheroes, BioWare doesn't want to have to nerf the Javelins' powers in order to balance a PvP mode. But that doesn't mean they won't do that; it's just not on their radar right now, which is a good thing. For Anthem to work, BioWare needs to deliver on everything they've talked about and shown so far.

These behind-closed-doors presentations are great and they offer up an enormous amount of promising information, but it's not until players get their hands on the game - first through a VIP Demo for people who pre-order Anthem will be available from January 25-27, and then with an Open Demo from February 1-3; these will be demos of the finished product, not betas - that Anthem's true success will be determined. Games can start off great, but then die out quickly due to a lack of content. Based on what BioWare is teasing and promising through their many tests and presentations, it certainly sounds like they have it all worked out, but right now, the vast majority of players are going into Anthem based on goodwill.

Other notes from BioWare's Anthem presentation

  • Customization is primarily geared towards Javelins, as players' actual faces are rarely seen in-game; there are also two voices for the characters - one male and one female - so not many options for customization there. But Javelins are meant to be everything in the game, like a superhero's costume.
  • No loot boxes in Anthem, though there will be microtransactions. However, all microtransactions are cosmetic only and they can be earned by playing the game. Furthermore, there are no blind draws (hence no loot boxes) in Anthem.
  • To reiterate, difficulty in Anthem scales based on how many players are in the party/group.
  • Players can fly wherever they want in the world of Anthem as long as they've brought their Javelin with them. However, Javelins cannot break the atmosphere, so no space travel.
  • Anthem's story - primarily Fort Tarsis - takes place on a single continent; it's unclear if Anthem allows players to travel to other continents.
  • Every world mission takes place is hosted on a dedicated server; that's the entire purpose of Anthem's closed alpha tests.
  • Anthem's world - specifically the Anthem of Creation - is chaotic and essentially an apocalyptic version of Pandora's Box.
  • A Legion of Dawn Edition will be available, though no details were given during the presentation.
  • Sentinels will occasionally fight alongside Freelancers in the open world, so there are NPCs that can aid players. But it's best not to rely on them since they're not too good.
  • Characters that players will come across in the story are Haluk (a Freelancer who pilots the player's Strider), Faye (a Cypher that essentially commands the Freelancers; every team has their own Cypher), Brin (a Sentinel that players will work with often), and Agent Tassyn (a member of Corvus, who are essentially the spies of the world of Anthem), among a few others.

Anthem releases on February 22, 2019 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC. VIP Demo (for those who pre-order) is January 25-27, with an Open Demo from February 1-3.

Key Release Dates
  • Anthem (2019 Video Game) release date:
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