Anthem is the latest BioWare game that players can enjoy, but the team best known for their incredible work on franchises such as Mass Effect and Dragon Age is doing things a little bit differently this go around. Though definitely not BioWare's first rodeo with online play, their action-RPG does carve out a new niche for the studio - one in which many couldn't help but to refer to as a "Destiny Clone." I've recently gotten a chance to play the title outside of the demo now available -- including some of the endggame -- while speaking with some of the developers over at BioWare and I just have to get this off my chest: Stop calling it a Destiny clone. It has so much more to offer than that.
Let me preface this hands on impressions piece by saying I do understand why people would jump to that conclusion, but this "insult" has been hurled around since long before we even got a glimpse at the gameplay. A lot of the slander comes on the heels of the Mass Effect Andromeda controversy, with many die hard Mass Effect (hi, I am also a die-hard Mass Effect fan) fans blaming the lack of attention on the upcoming online title. Since the majority of the original Mass Effect team was pulled from Andromeda to work on Anthem, the concern is noteworthy but it does lay down a breeding ground for maybe not the most helpful critique. Now that I've gotten to play various aspects of the title, I hope to discourage the knee jerk comparison in hopes of showing that there seems to be much more to this game than just a Bungie copy.
I mentioned this in my full-on hands-on piece earlier this week, but the way Anthem integrated cutscenes for both past and present was also incredible. I learned the history behind Anthem in a completely natural way instead of being forcefed lore in an almost textbook fashion. I was enthralled, enraptured, and was constantly craving to learn more. BioWare continued on with that fascination by hiding codex pieces ALL OVER the map, making lore junkies like me ride high on love because there were always puzzle pieces to be found making up a thrilling bigger picture.
A big concern when BioWare first teased Anthem is that it would go the "Destiny route" and not deliver on the promise of story as advertised. I can one hundred percent confirm that this is not true in the slightest. Yes, it has a very social component but Anthem seems to blend social and narrative expertly and really offers two very different experiences that compliment each other naturally, making it appeal to a bigger audience of gamers than titles like the Bungie shooter.
I can't reiterate enough that I really didn't get a Destiny 2 feel. From the stunning environmentals, to the way the suits themselves run, I would much sooner compare it to that of Titanfall or Warframe, if anything. The only thing I could slightly compare the game to in relation to the Bungie MMO is that some of the classes moved a bit in the way of certain Guardian classes, but that's about where the similarities ended for me personally. Oh, and the loot drops look like engrams. Not every futuristic shooter should be compared to Destiny, that's just not fair nor is that accurate.
All in all, Anthem really seemed to honor its promise of feeling something entirely new but still with BioWare fans in mind. At first, my impression was "Wow, this doesn't feel like a BioWare game at all" but as time went on, I realised that wasn't quite true. It both felt similar to a BioWare game in terms of interaction, but mechanically felt very new. As a HARDCORE BioWare franchise fan, that wasn't a bad thing. It's new, but it works.
You can geek out with -- or just contact -- the author of this story over on Twitter @DirtyEffinHippy.