flawless potential, flawed execution.
There is no denying that Anthem is a flawed experience. That much is very apparent across all platforms from top to bottom. It is also a title that many set very high expectations for, expecting it to turn the live service market on its head. With the pedigree of a studio like Bioware at the wheel, many were looking to Anthem for incredible storytelling and complex and deep RPG systems that would place the title alongside the studio’s best. While it’s clear that Anthem did not perform to the expectations of some, it’s still a title that has enormous potential, and a game that I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with, regardless of a crash or two, or six, or twelve..
I will stress that while my outlook on Anthem is largely positive, I’m not oblivious to the game’s many issues that reside in the current build. My experience is solely on the Xbox One X platform with a few hours played through its early access trial, but the majority of my time has been with the game after its day one patch, a luxury that Origin Premiere PC players did not have access to during its first “early access” week, and the build that many outlets unfortunately based their review upon. While I have really enjoyed my time with the title, its early access impressions have poisoned a lot of its public image and reception. I’ve chosen to play well past its end credits and deep into its endgame to put out a fully formed review based upon not just my time with the content offered, but how the experience is handled well after its content runs dry.
Beneath its surface, Anthem does play to the beat of what we’ve experienced with a title like Destiny; you are part of a chosen few who will leave the comforts of a populated hub city to dispose of the forces of evil while you collect colored tiers of loot, each measured with a number used to indicate its power. While Anthem has been labeled “Destiny, but with flying”, it’s a lot more than that and the comparisons only get you so far. From a gameplay perspective, I never once felt as though I was playing a Destiny clone when I was out taking on the various threats that lurk around Anthem’s open world of Bastion. While much of that has to do with Anthem being an entirely third person experience, much of it has to do with how mobility and ability combo’s change up the moment to moment gameplay. While I can totally understand why people will compare the title to games like Destiny or other recent shared world experiences like Monster Hunter World, you have to remember that those titles didn’t create many of their systems and mechanics that those comparisons are drawn from, at least for the most part.
Expectations can often cause a much anticipated game to either succeed or crumble under the weight of its own hype. Given the title is published by EA, many eyes were on the title to fail, given the sheer hate many people have for the publisher. While I admit that EA has made some awful business choices in the form of pay-to-win microtransactions, excessive loot boxes systems, and studio closures of developers that are responsible for some of the best games of all time, I also am fully aware that EA has released the likes of A Way Out, Unraveled, Fe, and the upcoming Sea of Solitude, a collection of games through the EA Originals program where the studio does not profit in any way from their sales. Now, I’m not here to absolve the publisher from any wrong doing, because it certainly doesn’t deserve it, but shunning a game solely because EA has their name on it, well, I find it unfair to the many talented developers that are creating some truly wonderful experiences, Bioware included.
As a huge fan of Bioware proper, a studio I am actually only a few short hours drive from, I was really looking forward to Anthem, a game I placed in my top 3 most anticipated games of 2019, one of which I just put a review out for; Metro Exodus. Going into Anthem, I wasn’t expecting the same type of experience I found in Dragon Age or Mass Effect, since I knew full well that Anthem, being a looter shooter, wasn’t going to ever aim to copy the style of gameplay found in those titles. While it’s not wrong to expect a certain level of Bioware polish, and other traits the studio is known for, going into Anthem expecting something that it clearly isn’t is only to going to lead to frustration and disappointment.
You start your story as a rookie Freelancer, a faction of warriors outfitted in exo-suits called Javelins. It’s during your first mission, deep into enemy territory, where events go sideways and the mission ends in utter failure as you are one of the few Freelancers to make it out alive. This tragedy has stuck with you over the years as you attempt to bring back honor to the Freelancer name. You operate out of Fort Tarsis, a populated city in the nation of Bastion. During a routine mission, you encounter the Monitor, the leader of a rival opposing force, the Dominion. It’s here where Anthem’s first story arc is revealed and you will team up with other players and characters to put a stop to the Monitors plans.
Anthem takes place entirely in the nation of Bastion, alluding to other neighboring locations through its narrative and supporting cast. Across this open world, the environment is littered with ancient relics and technology left by the Shapers, an equally ancient race that were known to harness the Anthem of creation. Centuries ago, humanity was enslaved by a race of monstrous creatures known as the Urgoth, that is until a woman named Helena Tarsis, known throughout the game as the legendary General Tarsis, used Shaper technology to construct powerful armored suits that drove the Urgoth back and gave humanity their freedom. These armored suits would eventually become the Javelins they still use to this day.
There is a fascinating amount of story and lore here if you intentionally look to soak it all in. The game does toss names and words out that will initially confuse you, but it all gets explained or offers their meaning through Cortex entries that are almost everywhere. There are missions that explain the battle of Freemark, a devastating loss for humanity that ties directly into the main story. You learn a great deal about General Tarsis and dive into more about what the Anthem is and the consequences for controlling that power. While the story does revolve mainly around stopping a bad guy from having that power, it leaves much of its world and lore open for unlimited stories to tell. If you simply blast through missions and ignore the world around you, then it’s hard to say how engaged you will be from a narrative perspective. While Anthem may not be Bioware’s most narratively exciting title, I still found a very polished and enjoyable story here regardless of its short length, and abrupt ending.
What really sells Anthem’s narrative for me is in its supporting cast. While you are not taking them out on missions with you, for the most part; this is a game you are meant to play with your friends, it is in the brief conversation moments with them between missions where I really felt its world come alive. Whether it’s helping a grieving mother deal with the loss of her child, a veteran Freelancer who is struggling on how to honor the dead, or a fashionista who is frustrated with the lack of fashion culture in the Fort, I’ve come to quite enjoy the colorful personalities that fill up this hub location. I do wish there were more conversations based around getting to know some of them a bit more outside of their own personal narrative, given Bioware’s history with creating interesting backstories to its characters, but I suppose more of those moments will be implemented further down the road when new content is freely rolled out. Now, that being said, there are countless e-mails from each of these characters that continue to flesh out their interactions with you based on the choices you’ve made during your conversations with them.
Great characters aside, I do wish the NPC’s would do more than just simply stand there. While this is largely an issue across hundreds, if not thousands of games, I wish characters would perform animations of a task or something that didn’t make them feel detached from their environment. There’s a moment when you walk up to a character who is actively working on their Javelin that made me wish that every conversation started in a similar way. It makes the world feel far more believable and allows the characters to feel like real people, as opposed to conversation mannequins and a checklist of objectives.
The inhabitants of Fort Tarsis come from all walks of life, and have very different views, of which they will be very clear on them during your conversations. You have some choices in what you say and how you say it, steering the conversations in minor ways. These are not groundbreaking choices that change the narrative or anything substantial, they are simply there to give you a few choices in how your character responds to each person you discover around Fort Tarsis. These encounters are generally with two different types of NPC’s; those that are there for the short character arcs that develop the more you chat with them, and those that are plot-centric and offer you a wide range of activities to take part in.
Some of my favorite characters you’ll interact with are Tassyn, the Corvus agent who is bankrolling your adventure, the curiosity driven Archanist, Matthias, the socially awkward Sentinel Brin, to the talented and wonderfully rendered Cypher in Faye Navine. While many of these characters will be in your ear mission after mission, much of your interactions with these central characters are between expeditions, either debriefing you after a mission or receiving information regarding your next outing. I will say that out of the entire cast, it’s Faye that really has been the most impressive and expressive character of the whole lot and one that seems to have received a great deal of work in getting her just right. From her superb almost Star Wars design to her incredible facial animations, Faye has become one of my favorite Bioware characters in sometime. Watching the subtle expressions she makes, to the animations of her fingers as she is deep in conversation, the work put into creating this wonderful woman is stunning.
Anthem has a few activities apart from its critical story path that will keep you busy for quite sometime should you put in the effort to get the most out of each mission or task. As a live service game like Destiny, you can burn through the main story quite quickly, but it’s taking in all the quests and activities around you that will give the game far more length and replayability. Live service games are built around replaying missions with other players or jumping into an older mission to help your friends progress theirs. There are missions offered to you from several plot-centric characters that sees you out in its open world rescuing other Freelancers or tracking down various ruins and uncovering numerous mysteries as you attempt to figure out what the Monitor is up to. With the various threats out there from Scars to the scattered Dominion forces, and even more to come, there are dozens of quests to take on across multiple difficulties that boost the tier of rewards you can unlock to make your Freelancer a force to be reckoned with.
The structure of several missions is where Anthem can sometimes drop the ball as it lacks a consistent pacing or originality to its mission design. More often than not you are sent out far away from the Fort to fight waves of enemies as you collect orbs or relics and bring them to a gathering point. While the gameplay of combat is always fun, this type of mission layout feels lazy and uninspired. Now, that said, there are a decent number of missions that stray from this design and offer some intense combat centered around a fun and fast paced mission design. The early game does have a much lesser impact mostly due to some very short missions that feel as if they are there simply just to get your feet wet, often completed in just under 5 minutes. Later on, you’ll tackle missions that are well over half an hour, and Strongholds, which are the equivalent to that of Destiny’s Strikes, are almost double that, and even more so when you pack on the extra difficulty. Unfortunately, at this time, the only way to replay older story missions is either by helping new friends complete theirs or diving into Quickplay, a random mission matchmaking system that is somewhat broken at this point in time due to a few quests that have a few progression bugs.
Anthem can be played either as a single player experience for its core missions, but exploring in Freeplay or the Stronghold events are designed around matchmaking with additional players. Making a party with friends is made incredibly simple, but does feature one significant flaw that can spoil some of the content still awaiting you. Let’s say you join up with another player and go to choose a mission on the map, while it will show each mission available to you, it also shows all missions that your friends currently have ready to go. These missions have some descriptors indicating what they contain, and yes, this means if your friend is ahead of you, you could accidentally read something that hasn’t occurred yet, which happened to me. Another issue I have with how this mission system works is each mission icon is the same color, making it hard to tell the difference between your missions and your friends. Had your friends missions been either marked with their name or were a different color, then it would make navigating the mission prep screen far more efficient and have less chances to ruin content for your friends that are catching up.
While you can blast through the content that is here through its easy and normal modes very quickly, I strongly suggest setting the challenge to hard as early as possible. It adds the perfect amount of initial challenge and once you start hitting the later missions, you’ll be rewarded with far better loot that will prepare you for Grandmaster difficulty; a much harder experience that comes in three progressively harder flavors. As you hit level 30 and have acquired better gear, it is Grandmaster 1 difficulty where Anthem finds its sweet spot. This difficulty level is built around earning Masterwork items and hoping for that very rare Legendary lime-colored drop; the highest tier in quality for any item in Anthem. As I type this, I have well over 100 Masterwork items yet only 8 or 9 Legendary, pushing my Javelin just over into Masterwork rank. While I’ve dived into Grandmaster 2 difficulty a few times, I didn’t really notice a better drop rate alongside its more punishing difficulty. Thankfully, this is being addressed in a future patch.
Apart from helping others with missions or taking in any of the three available Strongholds, Freeplay is where a large portion of your time will be spent. Similar to that of Patrols in Destiny, you’ll traverse the open world with 3 other players, tracking down collectibles, grinding away at earning crafting materials, or taking in the World Events that reward you with a chest at the end of their activity. The 16 currently available World Events are usually based around taking out Skorpion nests, Scar Encampments, securing Shaper Artifacts, tracking down missing Corvus Agents, responding to distress calls, and encountering massive health bars in the giant Titans that are known to frequent certain areas of the map. Where Freeplay lacks is in the fact that despite the massive map size given to us to explore and complete dozens upon dozens of activities, we can only share this huge open space with 3 other players. Given the amount of space provided, I would assume that 3 full teams should be able to occupy this space instead of a single squad.
Part of the appeal of Anthem was the ability to live out some sort of Iron Man fantasy, given the style and feel of the Javelins; armored exo-suits that encase your created character on expeditions. You’ll have access to any of the four Javelins almost from the start, unlocking access to the other classes as you level up. While the majority of my time has been with the Storm Javelin, I’ve taken quite the liking to the fast and nimble Interceptor. What I like about how Bioware has handled these separate classes is that they feel very different from one another in every conceivable way. Where Destiny has 3 different classes to choose from, they largely play the same apart from a selection of abilities and how they jump. Here, you really have to change up how you approach each confrontation and how each class handles its mobility. As the Interceptor, I can dart back and forth extremely fast, removing myself from combat with fast dashes whereas the Colossus, a hulking monster of metal, lacks any sort of dash and instead I can stomp down my shield and take a massive amount of incoming damage. I can also sprint with my shield as well, knocking down the large majority of enemies in my wake. The storm is based more around setting up elemental combo’s and surveying the battle from above, normally seeing bonuses to my damage if I am hovering in the air. The Ranger is more of a jack of all trades and is the most balanced of the four classes, allowing it to be the one more people are probably going to start with.
Each Javelin has numerous uses in battle due to a wide assortment of abilities and special attacks that you can use to create very unique builds from. Part of Anthem’s combat system is through its use of what are called Primers and Detonators. Primers will set the stage for some destruction as you freeze enemies or set them on fire. While it’s very possible to create a build solely through Primers or Detonators, you’ll need your teammates then to bring the pain and followup your Primer with a Detonator ability. For my Storm, I have both a Primer and a Detonator equipped, allowing me to dish out my own combo attacks should I fly solo or be separated from my team on the battlefield. Sadly, Anthem does very little to discuss this system and you are often left to your own devices or through friends experienced with the game to really deep dive into this essential mechanic. If combo damage was something you could do without, then sure, I can see why Anthem would gloss over it, but unfortunately, combo damage is an essential key to surviving in any of the more challenging difficulties.
With a world so large and vast in Bastion, getting around the mountains and valleys is made exciting through the Javelin’s use of flight. Each class will expend their thruster capacity in different ways as the large and hulking Colossus will have less time in the air than the nimble Interceptor. The Storm can hover in the air a great deal longer than any of the other classes, allowing it to be a mostly airborne experience. Now, my only critique with the thruster capacity is that I wish it was another 10-15 seconds longer as you do find yourself forced to the ground a bit too often. Now, that said, there are tricks to making your burn last a little bit longer. You can descend rapidly to the ground to cool your jets, or dive into water or fly through the runoff of a waterfall to give your jets a few seconds of burn without the meter filling up. When you expend your full boost, your Javelin will overheat, dropping you to the ground and initiating a fairly lengthy cool down. The flying is easily one of the best parts of Anthem as it is one of the first times that flying has really been worked so well into a game. Diving and pulling up under an arch or through a intricate cave system is a breeze and makes for some exciting moments that lend itself to offering an experience we’ve yet to see done so well in the genre. While it is easy to bounce and ricochet off walls and various obstacles, it takes very little time to learn the in’s and out’s of its controls.
While Anthem’s combat can feel like your traditional third person shooter, it is its satisfying gunplay combined with its numerous special abilities where it feels downright exciting to dive into almost any combat scenario. Flying in and landing a melee strike and then darting away as you throw out a acid grenade is one thing, but flying back into the air and then over your enemy as the acid burns through them only to dash back down and unload some solid head shots is another, especially when the whole act takes place in just a few seconds. The sheer variety in swapping out abilities and making builds can make even the same class feel truly unique time and time again. I often seek out combat encounters when I am using Freeplay to gather crafting materials or tracking down any remaining collectibles I have yet to discover.
Where Bioware spent a large portion of their development time concentrating on making the Javelin’s cool and interesting to use, the weapons themselves sadly take a backseat and while they can pack a punch, they lack that visual charm found in something like Destiny. Take for example, the Legendary ‘Renewed Courage’ LMG. While the gun has a very interesting look, it is simply a reskinned version of the Havoc. While the Masterwork and Legendary versions have considerably better stats and perks, it feels like a cop-out in weapon design. Considering that your endgame is built around collecting every gun and ability you can, maximizing your build for harder difficulties, having your loot feel less exciting is not the way to go and is something I really hope that Bioware fixes in the near future. One aspect of weapon and item drops that people have been somewhat upset over is that originally, in the E3 footage, you were shown the weapon drop you received right then and there on the battlefield, instead, you are shown what your loot is after the mission is over. While I’m sure this change was to keep the mission going instead of having your team stop and check out their gear every time they got a loot drop, it would be nice to at least see what Masterwork or Legendary item you received as you got it, and not after, even if you couldn’t equip it until you returned to the Fort.
Right now, even despite the lazy reskins offered to its weapons, the biggest downside to Anthem’s loot is in the lack of visual changes you have regarding your armor. While you have a vast assortment of colors, textures, and decals to choose from, each class has only 2 or 3 distinct armor sets. This is mostly upsetting due to seeing nearly a dozen sets during a developer stream almost half a year back, and seeing next to nothing offered of them in the current release. Currently, the only way to acquire new armor is hoping that it enters the store, purchasable with either coins or shards, a real world money currency. I’ll be diving into the microtransactions model a bit later on, but rest assured, it’s extremely mild. Where the store suffers, however; is that you have to wait days just to have it reset and hope the store is restocked with new armor choices and not just a few emotes. What I would prefer to see is a strong offering of armor choices rotated out once a week as well as a daily store that then showcased decals and emotes to purchase with your coins. Having more options is truly the way to go as it benefits everyone.
With any sort of live service product, the endgame has always been a point of contention and one that never has seem to satisfy any user base of any product of this type. As these games are designed to piece meal their content out; either free or through paid content packs, Anthem does seem to offer a fairly thin amount of content around its endgame. Now, that said, they have done something interesting here that I wish other games like Destiny or The Division would have done long ago. Anthem’s endgame is split into a few different activities; Strongholds, World Events, and Legendary Contracts. While the first two could be argued they are not true endgame content, they are activities you will be doing over and over again to grind away at higher tier gear while hoping for a Masterwork or Legendary drop to appear amongst the chaos. Legendary Contracts is where the real endgame is and while the rewards are a bit lacking currently, it’s how the content is delivered that is fascinating. Legendary Contracts have their objectives, locations, and threats randomized, allowing them to be completely different almost everytime you do them. While Destiny 2 tried something similar with the Infinite Forest, this is far beyond that and keeps these daily missions fresh almost every time you complete them. What is even better is that you can help friends with theirs, bettering your chances at earning better gear, just make sure that you both don’t have yours collected or it won’t let you double up on them.
The Frostbite engine has been a remarkable piece of technology when used right and while it may have led to some of the performance issues surrounding the game, Anthem is simply gorgeous. Where Mass Effect: Andromeda was infamous for its poor animations and faces that belonged in the seventh circle of hell, that is far from the case here with Anthem. Facial animations are superb, illustrating even the most subtle expression down to the most expressive I think I’ve seen portrayed in a character not part of a pre-rendered cutscene. Faye, for example, has some stellar moments where she is providing a staggering amount of context to the situation with simple face gestures showing uncomfortability and joy. Even Owen, your own personal Cypher, is extremely well animated and a joy to interact with. Apart from its glowing cast of characters, Anthem’s environments are gorgeous and whether it’s in the meticulously detailed Fort Tarsis or the stunning land of Bastion, there is a staggering amount of detail and graphical polish given to everything here. While I’ve seen that several people have had missing heads or textures not loading, I haven’t experienced any graphical problems like those during my entire time with the game.
I’ve never been a big fan of a voiceless protagonist, and while I understand the appeal, I am glad that my character has a voice to prevent the game from simply talking at me and instead talking to me. The voice acting is superb here across each and every character, which is complimented greatly due to the facial animations given to each of the cast. While the music itself is great, Anthem lacks any sort of memorability to its score. Given the game is bombastic in its abilities and action, the sound design here is truly fantastic as you hear the effects of a perfectly placed combo, or the chime of picking up the loot that you are rewarded with. The only problem I’ve encountered audio-wise is having my audio drop in the middle of the battle, causing the game to go fully silent and instead have my speakers pop every few seconds. While this issues is fixed upon reloading my game, it’s a problem that is fairly annoying regardless.
While many feared that with Anthem, EA would stockpile a tremendous amount of microtransactions into the game, making it more of a in-game shop than a game itself. Thankfully, any and all items that can be purchased with real money can also, and quite easily, be purchased with the in-game currency called coins. I’ve purchased quite a few items thus far using the currency I’ve earned in game with a few full armor sets, skins, and emotes; with not once spending a single real world dollar. You earn coin by completing many of the game’s challenges as well as through the Alliance system; a system used to track the top 5 experience earners among your friends list. Each of these methods will net you thousands upon thousands of coin, allowing you to purchase new armor sets, vinyls, emotes and decals. Upon loading up Anthem for the first time, you will be granted 40,000 coins right from the start and during my time with the game, I’ve earned probably close to 140,000 coins by simply playing the game and from the weekly payouts via the Alliance system. Thankfully, unlike in Destiny 2, nothing in the store is locked behind forced real money systems, making every bit of content unlockable by using the coins you earn each week. Bioware has also mentioned that all future content to drop in Anthem will be free to download as they do not want to split the player base across all future content drops. I’ve seen many people unhappy with their inclusion, but since nothing is forced behind any sort of pay wall, I don’t have any issues with EA/Bioware using this method to fund free content that will keep me playing.
Among the patches and quality of life improvements we have been seeing since release, Anthem has its future told in acts; content packs that will release every 3 months. These will include new missions, gear, in-game events, and even new Strongholds to further offer new gameplay experiences, all of which will be free. It’s unclear if the constant issues and glitches that the teams are working on will delay any content, mainly due to the possibility that it will conflict with other systems and create new bugs, Bioware is consistently relaying information regarding these fixes. I have all the faith in the world that they are listening to fan feedback and attempting to address the large list of problems currently plaguing the game.
Before the day one patch, Anthem was plagued by extremely lengthy load times that were 4 to 5 minutes long. Thankfully, with the day one patch, those times have been significantly shortened. Playing on an Xbox One X with an external powered HDD, my load times into the open world of Bastion average around 1 minute and 20 seconds, sometimes as short as 1 minute and 8 seconds. While these load times are not excessive by any means considering that the average load time for a game like Destiny 2, with much smaller scale environments is very comparable, it is in the additional load screens that Anthem has further in where it starts to really slow down the experience. While there are short 5-8 second load times for small interior locations around Bastion, it is the inability to jump back into the map after a mission that feels like a missed opportunity to cut down on a lot of the post game load times. When you complete a mission, it will take about 10-15 seconds to load up your results screen, and then another 35-40 seconds to load back into Fort Tarsis. Then you will have to prep your next mission and head back out. Had Anthem given us the ability to just queue back up and select another mission, bypassing almost 3 minutes of load times, then I think the load time issues plaguing the game wouldn’t be so apparent. One thing that I would love to see Bioware do is disguise their loads screens like most games do, making the wait “appear” shorter than it is. If they cut to animations of your Javelin leaving the fort or the ability to tweak your gear setup or something else to take place during these loads, then it would greatly enhance the experience and not make the wait feel so long.
To add to the loading issues, Anthem uses a tethering system to keep players together during a mission. While this isn’t new, several games do the same thing, it is the inconsistency of this working here where the problem lies. As the game is based around reaching checkpoints, it will pull the remaining members of the team forward as the player in front reaches those checkpoints. This is made even worse when you have an eager random player wanting to fly through Strongholds when you would rather take it slow and attempt to capitalize on every loot chance you come across. I’ve had the tethering block me out of a boss encounter during the finale to the “Diggs” mission, preventing me from taking part in the fight whatsoever. I’ve also had two instances of a glitch that causes your entire team to teleport away from the current checkpoint, creating an indefinite loop that can only be fixed by restarting the mission, which requires you to load back to Fort Tarsis and then back out again. There is also the fact that even if you are 2 seconds away from where the tethering will send you, you’ll get that 5 second loading screen to place you pretty much exactly where you were about to reach. I’ve had several instances while taking cover during the Scar Stronghold boss where if I was too close to the outer wall that it would pop up the teleport countdown, thinking I was away from the battle. Currently, the tethering system is not implemented well and really needs to be something we manually have to accept than a forced teleport. I understand its purpose and frankly, a system like that can be a positive one, but right now, in its current state, it is more of a nuisance than anything functional.
While my experience again has been largely positive, the game certainly has several technical issues that cannot be overlooked. I’ve have consistent instances of where my special attack shows it’s ready when it’s not, and I’ve had the audio completely drop almost a dozen times. While I’ve never encountered a queue to join the game, an issue that has plagued almost my entire day one launches with both Destiny and The Division, I have been dropped by the game almost on a daily basis, but I’ve always been able to immediately rejoin and be back playing within minutes as the game will allow you to rejoin your friends where you left off. I’ve had numerous issues where I cannot interact with objects or people, preventing me from taking part in objectives or reviving someone, however; the issue can always be fixed once I’ve been revived myself or loaded back into the world. Anthem has several minor bugs and issues like these, but nothing that I feel has been extremely game breaking, or has prevented me from just simply loading back into a match. I do strongly feel that Anthem was released a month or so too early, but with Bioware being very quick to resolve many of the bugs currently in the game, I have the upmost confidence that the issues plaguing the game now will be but a memory in the coming weeks. Over the past few days, working on this review, there have been reports of the game hard crashing on PS4, with reports that it is bricking those consoles. After checking into those claims, it seems that there is a way to get those consoles back up and running. Regardless, this is a very devastating problem that has only hurt the image of the game, and its developer, making people afraid to even load up the game. While I cannot speak to my own experience regarding this issue, it is still very sad to see this happen. Note: At the time I am wrapping up my final edit, Bioware held a live stream indicating that many of the issues present with the game will be addressed with a patch on March 12th. This includes the PS4 crashing and the audio issues I reference in this review.
I mentioned before that my experience with Anthem has been largely positive and I hold to that. I’ve enjoyed the 70+ hours I’ve invested into the title with no plans to really stop. While I will certainly lessen my presence with the game as there are countless new releases coming out in the coming weeks, Anthem is a title that I will return to consistently as content and fixes continues to drop. I understand fully well that Anthem can be a soured experience due to its formulaic and lazy design and the vast assortment of bugs and glitches, but truth be told, I’m still having a blast with the game. If you’ve tried Anthem and didn’t enjoy it, that’s fine, there are games out there that we are all going to not enjoy or those that don’t quite live up to the hype. I didn’t go into Anthem expecting it to blow my mind or give me a comparable experience to that of Dragon Age Inquisition, my favorite Bioware game in years, but I did find satisfaction in its world, its characters, and the moment to moment gameplay I find incredibly addicting. Anthem has the potential to be a truly remarkable experience and while it’s clear that Bioware still has a long ways to go, it can still be a very engaging experience if you don’t expect the game to be revolutionary, or well, not crash on you once, twice, or five times a day.
If you’ve read through this entire review, I thank you. This is a much longer review than I intended to write and editing it has been a nightmare. Anthem is not an easy game to have an positive and yet constructive opinion about and while I have enjoyed my time with it, I am fully away that the game has several problems across all aspects of its design. Again, if you’ve made it to this point and read the entire review, or even just skimmed it, then I thank you very much and hope you enjoyed it.
Anthem was purchased by the reviewer and played on an Xbox One X.
All Screenshots were taken on an Xbox One X.