Anthem - BioWare's take on Destiny


Eh, when I read that I thought it was just promo fluff, and still do. Like some MMO’s had personal instanced housing where you could display “trophies” from completing various game cheevos. This is more than that.

Tarsis is the personal instanced housing/home base, plus the lobby? And the “lobby” is introduced in the quest line and feels like it was bolted on later (because it was). When I got there the forge didn’t work for me, so I never went back and just went to Tarsis.

It seems like 1/3 of several different games. Part of a looter-shooter, part of an open world game, part of a story game, part of an instanced hub/mission type game. It isn’t even a full half game of any of them. Which makes sense, as those were the parts probably most ready to go by deadline. But you feel the lack of the other 2/3 of each game type.

The parts that did have time to bake, like the side fluff story bits and the core gameplay are great. The rest though, are not just various levels of complete but mismached bits. Like I mentioned before, you can buy craft mats with cash, but have zero need of them. You can customize your look, but have no way to interact with others, so you are the only audience.

You really did miss out not exploring the open world. The caves have full events, some are decent. A lot of content is out there … with absolutely no reason to go see it. Another contradiction.

For the story, it was an unfortunate mix of lack of exposition for the “things in capital letters”, combined with over extensive foreshadowing of any person centered drama. The one team member that had the largest crisis you could see that foreshadowed a mile away, my son called it before level 5. And even the little dramas in your team were the predictable ones that were heavily foreshadowed. That might have been fine in a longer story, where there was a lot of other story between the foreshadowing and the event. I guess explanations of those big things just hand-waved into existence was what was supposed to be in the middle there?

I’ve decided to play it as much as I can until bored right now. I got it later. The content that did get finished isn’t bad. I can enjoy that for my money.The IP is nicely open. They own it, and the shaper stuff doing “anything” does give great ability to take the game into almost any direction anyone wants with no conflict. I see that as potentially promising, but am uneasy what game EA may ask for, and what monetization scheme will be added.

It is an awkward child now, full of contradictions, that doesn’t know what it will be when it grows up, which is one set of problems. But I’m not sure if I’ll like the adult either as that may have a different set of problems.


Thanks for helping me flesh out my thoughts. Re: the “fluff” SWTOR really did accomplish it better with a fully voiced single player campaign for each of the classes with great grouping and shared spaces. The latter was “easy” since it was built from the ground up as a MMO and not as this…whatever it was, a bastard of a diablo-destiny-clone.

You do have a partial point about the outside world. I did do them as part of forced freeplay and (broken for weeks) quickplay to finish dailies and achievements. There was nothing persistent and worthwhile or narratively-cohesive outside there though. No waypoints (cough) NPCs, outposts, towns, missions nothing instanced or otherwise that encouraged exploration or going out other than checking off a checklist.

I did do many of those “emergent/radiant/procedural” events and it got tiresome/repetitive fast on many variations of the same ‘stand in one place until it goes green’ or ‘return the echos/relics/fragments.’ I grew bitter about the “hot/cold” indicator and how it was used for SO many things until I realized “searching for items” was a common staple of MMOs and RPGs quest but those didn’t have the hot/cold radar thing and I didn’t grow resentful in quite the same manner.

There’s just no point to any of the faceless factions: scars, dominion or outlaws.

I haven’t bitched about why the sessions/instances of the “open” freeplay world have random shutdown/disconnect/expirations as well. The ‘invalid pilot data’ and constant ‘lost connection to EA servers’ and connection errors that persist into 2nd month are completely unacceptable for an online only game as well.

The multiplayer and single player are completely walled off from each other. There is no chat/communication with your group and even the ‘group’ missions there is acknowledgement by the story that you are in a group. Even if you go into it determined to enjoy a persistent group with RL or o online friends, you are all broken up and lost when anyone in your group returns to Fort Tarsis or the mission ends.

WTF BioWhere? No community has congealed for these reasons. The Launchbay was a 1-week hack by Bioware Austin after they pointed out there’d be nowhere to incentivize buying cosmetic DLC.

Re: unexplained Proper Nouns, is EVERY “big” Catacaclysm called a “Heart of Rage?” Why is the Big Bad Threat of the past 2 years just sitting around there in one-place around the ruins of Freemark and no one is worried in nearby Tarsis?

Why do you casually comment that the same Titan from the intro CG cinematic is still there when you return at endgame? Didn’t he move from where he spawned? WTF?

Also re: crafting it’s related to bad loot system with no thought made to loot after epic. Bad loot with too little variety in weapons items and bad inscriptions and no thought to tiers making previous tiers useless. Also no side progression or purpose for crafting like you said in the form of a couple of quest give “pity legendary” or mws.


The story in Anthem is 90% rubbish, with a couple of pretty good characters thrown in (I liked Haluk). It was CLEARLY mangled beyond recognition due to changes and deadlines, sort of like Destiny 1’s story.

Princess Zhim is a nothing character you talk to for like 20 seconds and then never see again. The Monitor is The Bad Guy ™, with no discernible motivation or personality or backstory or… anything. He is also absent for 85% of the narrative, pretty much appearing near the beginning and at the end, and not much in between. Owen’s character arc is ridiculous and extremely unmotivated by the narrative, without getting into spoilers.

The Freelancers aren’t trusted by the Fort, because they… lost a battle? I guess? Do people only “trust” and like armies if they always win? Has anyone at Fort Tarsis looked up the definition of a “freelancer”?

Much is made of the Shield of Grind, and how it will allow you to re-enter the Heart of Rage (aka run a bunch of the introductory mission areas again), but then it’s not really any big deal. You don’t even see any sort of effect around your javelin, signifying that it’s “shielding” you from something - it’s just a tchotchke that lets you do the final mission.

Fort Tarsis itself is a half a dozen large rooms where everyone is permanently stapled to the ground, and can’t wait to shout one of their 2-3 lines of dialogue at you if you come within 20 feet of them.

It’s a world that feels 10X less alive than SWTOR, and that game was restricted by the limitations of being an MMO.

I say none of the above with pleasure. The core feel of the actual traversal and combat, is good. You can see they had the kernel of something potentially brilliant with Anthem. But literally every layer of game they built around that central core, feels alternatingly unfinished or bad. The Kotaku article actually backs this up - Bioware devs were really happy with how the core mechanics felt, but the quest to build a game around those mechanics ended up being a mess.


Please read my 22000 words fanfiction “The Other Great Gatsby” where Owen aspire to be much more than a tecnician. And to get into the princess pants. And to do so he have to bend the rules, until tired of waiting, have to break them, and that put him in a spiral that end destroying him and becoming a different person that the one that risked everything for love.

(just kidding)

I guess people lost trust on freelancers, because they were part of a disaster that wiped a whole city. Sometimes people behave like that, blame everyone related to a disaster, not matter how fair is that.

The monitor want to give humans the god shaping powers. He is a humanist that believe in humanity. He turn into a monster when he actually acquire the power, because he don’t see himself has a human anymore and acquire other goals.


But, I mean, they weren’t PART of it - they tried to stop it, and a whole bunch of them died in the process. The narrative isn’t at all vague about whether people know who is responsible either; they absolutely do, because they attacked the city to get to the artifact that ultimately caused the “Heart of Rage”.

I don’t know if I’d say it’s accurate to call him a “humanist” haha, considering how expendable he clearly thinks human lives are judging by his actions. If he’s a humanist, then so is Thanos (except even Thanos ultimately thought he was sacrificing himself for the benefit of the universe).

I know the Monitor says he wants the power of the Gods to shape things as he sees fit, because he says as much. But the story does nothing to explain why he has this motivation. He is just Bad Guy™ who wants The Ultimate Power™, which is about as bland as it gets.


I’m still finding myself oddly hooked on this game. I say “oddly” because I recognize that all the criticisms listed above have truth, there’s some weird stuff going on in this game. I’ll never understand why I have three options for places to access the same storefront in-game but I still can’t drop a waypoint on the world map.

But the core experience, the feel of the game, is good to me. I’m still enjoying flying out and experimenting with the interactions between various weapons and powers alongside other players. I’m slowly plugging away at the challenges, but I won’t cry if I never complete them all. They’re just another way of keeping score.

But I’m on a break from Division 2 (which yeah, probably the better game) right now, because I’m still digging Anthem. It won’t last, but that doesn’t bother me. It’s fun right now.


Where is it available for $15? I’d probably try it out for that.

Chris Roberts “knows open sci-fi worlds” cracks me up. It’s amazing that article was posted unironically.


He’s referring to Origin/EA Access.


Oh… pass.


On the bright side you might not have to wait all that long for a $15 copy, especially on a physical box somewhere. On the downside, the game might be dead by then if BioWare continues to manage the game the way they are. :)


Right. When I read the blurb I figured it was just touting an instanced housing/personal area like I said, mainly to make the Bioware RPG people feel like a purchase. Not that it would end up as also the only town, only story place, etc etc etc. And the game being a mash-up of more than one genre might have worked just fine. Some have. This one didn’t seem to have time to glue the bits together cohesively though.

This is the part that got me. Mainly bought the game with a family member as a place to go hang out online again. They’re only doing PvP in the old game, and my hands don’t hold up to doing that as much. We were hoping others from family and past online groups would show up and we could find a larger group. Nope. The one other family member that does like this type of game took one look at launch and said “no thanks, I’ll stay in warframe”. too. /sigh

From their end, how do you even do GaaS without building a community?

I’m still playing casually, but wonder if it is even worth my time to look for a community there. I figured I’d just run into people in pugs right? So far, I’ve done one group instance and had one guy join at the end and heh, we both waved on the closing timer. Highlight of the community right there for me.

Odd, that’s the one family called by level 5.

You know between the bad guy being a caricature, and the nature of your main mission giver … I now want to see an Anthem/Austin Powers story mash-up. Didn’t help that the one bad guy side kick where you did see the face, and was I think called a doctor? looked a bit like Dr.Evil, or Mini-me next to the big suit of main bad guy.


I do everything open at this point, so I’m pretty much playing with randoms full time, and that’s my community building in a nutshell. I give folks a wave and we get down to business.


Maybe it is being a female, but sometimes I want more than just a wave before getting down to business …

… or during, in this case in the game. ;) The lack of interaction does make much of the game less satisfying, combo’s and Heh look I just got a freeplay event that spawned one of the cave events! Nah, I’ll be soling it with three randos on the map who may be still looking for an event pop.


Well, I’m not sure if it’s me being male that’s the main factor, but I’m mainly just looking for a few fellow travelers to go shoot stuff full of holes, at least from randoms. If I could talk any of my actual friends into playing Anthem, yeah I’d like to have a little deeper interaction.


And how do you build a community without tools for players to communicate with each other? Without any kind of clan mechanics? To me, that’s the biggest single sign that Bioware has no idea what they’re doing in the multiplayer arena.


And that’s another thing - I’m playing on Xbox, so is just probably use the built-in party system if I wanted a little better communication and slightly more structured grouping. I guess with PC you have to go with Discord or something?


Or someone expects people to use…Origin? Haha!



There is VOIP in-game, but it only works in groups. There’s no way to talk to communicate with people in the common areas (Launch Bay, Freeplay). And even in groups, it’s dodgy. I would guess that 20% of the population has it on to listen, and perhaps one player in 30 actually talks.

On PC, you either bring your own friends on Discord, or you’re playing with bots.


Anthem has bots?

The unofficial Discord channels setup for Anthem are all ghost towns now BTW.


I would too, but the kitten chewed through my headset cord, so I haven’t done any grouping since the release. I know I have another headset somewhere in a box, but haven’t dug it out yet.

I’ve stayed away from some of the damage accelerating support items because they seem like they’d require more coordination than you get from the randos.