BioWare has left an indelible mark on the industry since its founding in 1995. Critically acclaimed RPGs like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire, and the Mass Effect trilogy have all contributed to the company’s decades-long legacy. The developer won’t be resting on its laurels anytime soon, as BioWare’s next IP, Anthem, is set to launch on February 22, 2019 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Here’s every reason why video game fans should keep the title on the radars, despite what early opponents on the internet are saying.
Reasons to be excited for Anthem | Open-world environments
Few would argue that Anthem‘s gameplay reveal was unimpressive. It evidenced the sprawling landscape that lies outside Fort Tarsis’ walls, from lush, green forests to dense underwater caves. The enemy variety to be found within these environments is just as noteworthy, as is the amount of creatures that can appear onscreen simultaneously. It also showed off the Javelin suit’s abilities to soar in the air with ease.
Though open-world environments are nothing new, few games have delivered on the promise of giving players freedom to fly around in a massive sci-fi universe. Anthem‘s exosuits change the manner in which fans can interact with the scenery around them. Exploration is encouraged because of those suits, presumably giving users most of the resources they need to learn about the world around them from the get-go.
Reasons to be excited for Anthem | Exosuit variety
Anthem‘s exosuits aren’t relegated to exploration, however. Players will have access to four different types of Javelins over the course of the game. This includes the balanced Ranger, the large and heavily-armored Colossus, the powerful, mage-like Storm, and the close-quarter combat specialist Interceptor. Each offers its own gameplay advantages and disadvantages, meaning parties should carefully consider each member’s role before accepting a new mission.
Fans of Destiny or Warframe could find Anthem‘s class-based structure to be right up their alley. BioWare’s signature RPG mechanics, of which include customization, relationship-building, and dialogue options, may make an appearance too, though fans will only be able to recognize the impact of their choices once the final product releases. Anthem will probably appear more varied when played with friends, though hopefully it’ll be as sophisticated when flying solo.
Reasons to be excited for Anthem | Drop-in/drop-out multiplayer
Though the absence of a player-versus-player (PVP) mode at launch is a bit disappointing, Anthem‘s emphasis on player-versus-environment (PVE) gameplay is promising, especially when considering other games that have pulled off the concept successfully. What comes to mind first is the Borderlands series, which allows groups of friends the chance to accompany each other in a shared world and reap loot endlessly. This nonstop, positive feedback loop from Borderlands is something the industry has sorely been missing out on lately. It’s a niche that could give Anthem the legs it needs to build a sustainable community and diversify itself from competitors.
A Borderlands feature that’s integral to this concept is drop-in/drop-out multiplayer functionality. Thankfully, it’s something that BioWare has included in its new IP. Having an experienced friend swoop in when the going gets tough could make the world feel more alive. Aside from benefiting all parties involved via in-game rewards, the mechanic is just plain fun to witness in action. Newer players could have their friends do all the heavy lifting for them, whereas seasoned veterans could show off all the powerful abilities they managed to outfit their exosuits with.
It’ll be interesting to see how BioWare balances this feature as Anthem‘s base changes over time. This’ll be the first time the developer experiments with the concept. Perhaps it’ll implement something unique and innovative, though that remains to be determined. There’s good reason to believe that that title’s multiplayer modes will evolve and change as its community matures, as BioWare did state that it envisions Anthem as part of a decade-long journey for itself and publisher EA.
Reasons to be excited for Anthem | BioWare’s pedigree
A popular concern among video game fans is that Anthem‘s narrative will end up feeling contrived. The story trailers released for the title certainly don’t do it many favors, as a typical good-versus-evil archetype is quickly established without probably conveying the conflict that lies at the heart of the game. BioWare and EA’s marketing focuses more on the product’s multiplayer offerings, which is understandable considering each party’s presumed goals of establishing a long-lasting community.
For those that are unaware, Anthem is set in a dystopian world where humanity takes refuge behind the walls of Fort Tarsis, lest the dangers of the wilderness beyond dwindle the species down to extinction. The Javelin-wearing Freelancers are tasked with exploring the world surrounding the enclave and eliminating anything that may be considered a threat. Some of these hostiles are a product of the Anthem of Creation, a mysterious, unruly energy source. A militaristic organization called the Dominion seeks to harness the Anthem’s power for itself in order to weaponize it. This puts Fort Tarsis at risk, which incentivizes the Freelancers to confront the Dominion and put an end to its power hungry schemes.
Though this narrative doesn’t sound completely original on paper, the writer behind the Mass Effect trilogy, Drew Karpyshyn, and the director of Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic, Casey Hudson, are cited as having contributed to Anthem. If each person’s prior work serves any indication, fans don’t have a lot to be worried about when it comes to the game’s story.
When considering BioWare’s pedigree as a studio on a larger scale, the company has produced a multitude of innovative RPG franchises like Jade Empire, Baldur’s Gate, and Dragon Age. Sure, there have been some occasional missteps (Mass Effect Andromeda is a recent example), put it’s hard to ignore the studio’s proven track record so far.
As promising as Anthem may look, there are some reasons to be worried. These include an over-saturated market, absence of a PVP mode, and microtransactions. EA is publishing the title, too, the likes of which hasn’t been benefiting from positive press in recent years aside from Apex Legends. Here’s hoping Anthem will be able to turn things around for the company and that BioWare continues to make worthwhile RPGs for a long time to come. The game definitely has potential to establish a community-friendly platform that will benefit its publisher, its developer, and most importantly, its playerbase.