Anthem : Could Have, Would Have, Should Have.

You wouldn’t have known it if you aren’t a follower of the game, but Anthem launched it’s Cataclysm event without even a public notice. Almost like secret. Usually things like that would be kind of a big deal. Only three months behind the official announcement (to be fair, they did say they were moving away from their roadmap after the bad launch)

First impressions? It’s okay

I know, ringing endorsement. My impression started off having to scour the internet to even find how to fix a non-loading game breaking bug (deleting all .ini files) that wasn’t on the Reddit or the official website or support tweets. You know, because EA stopped supporting the game.

Now with a scoreboard. Because, well, esports?

It wasn’t designed very well. The puzzles are ones that other players can undo – especially if they don’t know what they are doing. In one, you have to take 4 glowey things and go underwater to unlock a 5th glowey thing to then unlock a crystal. Issue is, you can put the 4 into the crystal unlock from the beginning, which means you can’t unlock the 5th one required.

So I spent 5 minutes trying to unlock the 5th while team mates were actively locking it – and while my frustration was with the players that is clearly poor design. There are a few other ways to design that (you can’t unlock the main crystal slots until you unlock the 5th glowey thing, for example).

There are other, annoying non game breaking bugs that are new for me (cursor disappearing on menu screens, for example) and seeing the polish and general event structure it is clear the B programming team is all that is left on Anthem.

The notes section often contained interesting lore ideas.

And at the danger o complaining about something this time that I didnt the first time, the loading screens are abundant. Were they this bad before? I can’t remember. I don’t remember it being an issue.

Not to mention that the writing was worse than normal. They went with a “hey we are funny” vibe and included a way too obvious Guardians of the Galaxy reference. The writing hasn’t been a strong point of Bioware for a while now but it was serviceable. This is similarly serviceable but a bit on the campier side. Or so it felt. In fact, they brought back one of the main bad guys from the first story line as a vendor. With a helmet on. It’s so obvious it’s painful (and there is even a dialog tree about why he won’t take his helmet off) but its the same voice actor and everything. Not even an attempt at subterfuge (or reason, yet.)

The did give it a valiant effort though. The core gameplay remains some of the best out there right now there is just no reason to play it, if that makes sense? And the back drop remains completely gorgeous, and Lore very interesting. They definitely increased Legendary drop rates (to the tune of about 1 per hour, I was receiving. Whereas the average before was one for every 15 hours). But I received duplicates (!) in a game where its fully randomized, and with 12 slots to fill per Javelin (48) with 100s of different options I somehow already have doubles. Bad luck I suppose.

I actually played it for 6 hours, which you are probably all shaking your head at after reading what I wrote about it. The gameplay is that good. But I saw (and did) basically everything that Cataclysm had to offer – and more – in those six hours, and not much reason to go back. Except for that sweet, sweet flying.

The headstone for Anthem – after it dies a slow, mostly ignored death – outside of a complete reboot – will be could have, would have, should have. Didn’t. And there is little appetite for hope left on the title.

2 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I appreciate you taking a look so I don’t have to. Haha.

    I’ve had half a mind to go check it out regardless, but I think I’ll just hold off til the 1 year anniversary before I dip my toes back in for a looksie.

  2. Tangent.

    I was one the client side of a very large (and public) contract dispute with a vendor. They didn’t meet any of their timelines, and the product wasn’t stable until 4 years after the launch date. At the surface level, it appeared better to simply cancel the contract. We’d at least stay stable, and the vendor could cut their (significant) losses.

    In reality, the vendor was developing new IP and skill sets that could be leveraged elsewhere. The costs were seen as a long-term investment. I know there are bits of the “secret sauce” that just don’t exist anywhere else on the planet, which inherently has value. That’s not to say the company didn’t, uh, clean house with the bidding/architecture team.

    When I look at Anthem, it makes no sense that EA/BW would even keep the lights on at this point. The only reason that a company like EA would ever continue to invest is if there’s a long term plan at play. Not specifically for Anthem, but for the whole company. Which on one hand bodes well for BW, and on the other, makes Anthem a relatively low priority in the portfolio since the ROI isn’t measured in-game, but in other games.

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