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 the play the game, as well as sit down with the developers of Anthem, 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 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 a little bit about it, 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.
Immediately with controller in hand, I 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 2 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. Not every futuristic shooter should be compared to Destiny, that's just not fair nor is that accurate.
First things first, there are four Javelin classes:
- Ranger - Agility, "Jack of all Trades"
- Colossus - Heavy Armor
- Storm - Plays like a Destiny 2 Warlock (my only similarity mentioned earlier)
- Interceptor - Accuracy, Assassin-type
The way the game felt while playing, it really did give me a "heroic" feeling. I could be anything, do anything - I was the ultimate badass. Moving through the world was incredible as well. The environment was incredibly interactive, making combat strategy even more immersive and beneficial to the player willing to take a step back and take on a more tactical advantage.
The game can absolutely be played solo, that much was easy to tell, though the use of collective combos does make playing with friends more rewarding. Is it a game changer? No, but if you do have buds that like a good online experience, I'd recommend squading up. The best part is that BioWare implemented level scaling, so no one will be held back or in over their heads should their friends be a different level.
Keep in mind that I haven't played the entire game, this isn't a review, but from the amount of hands on time I did have, I will say that the dialogue got a little repetitive. There's a few different voices in your ear courtesy of the game's comm's system and sometimes the "direction" from the home base became a little "Shut up, I got it!" That being said, the little I saw of some of the NPCs was interesting and I'm definitely dying to learn more about them ... though I wasn't able to because of limited time.
For lore junkies like me, you'll have fun. There's so much lore to uncover in this game from ruins, to books found. It makes working towards completion incredibly fun and provides almost a game within a game feel that many gamers enjoy. This feature will definitely appeal to those craving a good story, and those that want to uncover everything a title has to offer.
The UI felt a little bit dated to me, like a game from 2006-2010 rather than 2019. Nothing major, but did also kind of give me some StarCraft feels which for me personally will always be a win.
Overall, I enjoyed my time with Anthem. I think that if gamers go in prepared NOT expecting it to play like Mass Effect than it will be an enjoyable experience. Solo play is encouraged, as is being a team player, and as long as you go into it with knowing that it is what it's meant to be - a brand new IP - I think others will enjoy it as well. I'm anxious to play more!
Anthem launches on February 22, 2019 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.