Anthem has problems, but loading is the biggest one

Anthem is a beautiful game. Whether you’re looking over the world from a vantage point, or flying through the valleys and over waterfalls, it’s beautiful. The engine is pushing out gorgeous visuals, and it makes Anthem‘s world something you want to explore. And with Origin Access, PC players can already enjoy some exciting mech gameplay, complete with flying, shooting and zipping around the screen at speed. But Anthem has some series issues, but the most glaring one is the game’s frequent loading.

Anthem‘s problems aren’t a secret. You can find plenty of complaints on Anthem‘s subreddit, where the bugs megathread highlights many of the issues players are having: animations not loading, enemies disappearing, issues looting, and dozens more. Many problems could be specific to the PCs people are playing on, but the problematic loading is one issue that is identical for all players.

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Even on the faster rigs available right now, Anthem will have you regularly sitting through several minutes of load screens. To enter the hub, Fort Tarsis, you must sit through a lengthy load screen. After selecting your mission, loading into the world will require another lengthy load screen. After the mission, the rewards screen will load. Sorting your inventory will require another load screen for the Forge. After that, you’ll likely need to go back to Fort Tarsis, so that’s another long load screen. Some players have calculated these loading screens taking up to eight minutes in total, just to complete a single mission.

And this is a reasonably good scenario in terms of loading. If you have installed this game on a slower hard drive, as opposed to an SSD, then you very well might run into a few more problems. Of course, the load times will be longer, but in addition to that, environments, areas, and enemies can pop in seemingly from nowhere as the game struggles to keep up with the player moving through the world. This is easily replicated and demonstrated in Fort Tarsis, where you can see the game struggle to keep up when walking from the underground area toward your Javelin and then to the larger main square.

The void will be visible as the environments and walls struggle to load in, and in a single instance, I actually walked into a room where the floor hadn’t yet rendered and fell through the world. This, of course, caused a load screen as it returned me to the center of Fort Tarsis. Many of these issues can also be seen in the open world, too.

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But of course, the hub is basically a menu, and while invisible enemies are frustrating, your team will usually deal with them. This is a multiplayer game after all. And the fact that it’s multiplayer highlights another key issue with load screens. Once you’ve found a party to play a mission with, everyone starts loading in and will start the mission the instant they have loaded the game on their respective rig. This is great, letting players begin playing the game as soon as they are able. The problem with this is that important story dialogue and context is shared at the beginning of the mission, and if you load in after it’s all played out, too bad. You missed it.

And it gets worse. The differences in hard drives you could be using are massive, and of course, if someone in your party has an incredibly fast SSD, then you will inevitably fall behind them. And if you fall behind too far, then the game will punish you for it. Straying too far from your party during a mission causes the game to give you a countdown timer to return to them, before spawning you near your party.

Often you’ll find the lead party member well ahead of the rest of the team, who will be left catching up, and should they fail, yet again watching another lengthy load screen. It is entirely possible to miss a majority of the mission solely because slower hard drives can’t load the game. The alternative? Playing alone, of course.

It’s fascinating for BioWare to drop the ball this badly. On console, it’s sure to have a bit more parity in load times across systems, and this is less likely to be an issue, but right now PC players subscribing to Origin Access are in mixed states of suffering. It has entirely marred a potentially fun game with glaring problems. You can easily complete several games of Tetris 99 while sitting through loading screens, and players really shouldn’t be looking for ways to distract themselves from their game.

It’s definite that BioWare will improve many aspects of Anthem, including load times, in the near future with patches. With time, Anthem could become a brilliant, unforgettable gaming experience, but right now, we will have to wait for it. And that, coincidentally, includes a lot waiting during load screens.