After waiting for quite a while, BioWare finally released their new IP with Anthem. We all know BioWare. Complex yet satisfying stories, deep characters and what seem to be infinite game universes. Is Anthem what it promised to be, though?
- OS: 64-bit Windows 10
- CPU: Intel Core i5 3570 or AMD FX-6350
- RAM: 8 GB System Memory
- GPU: NVIDIA GTX 760, AMD Radeon 7970 / R9280X
- GPU RAM: 2 GB Video Memory
- HARD DRIVE: At least 50 GB of free space
- DIRECTX: DirectX 11
- OS: 64-bit Windows 10
- CPU: Intel Core i7-4790 3.6GHz or AMD Ryzen 3 1300X 3.5 GHz
- RAM: 16 GB System Memory
- GPU: NVIDIA GTX 1060/ RTX 2060, AMD RX 480
- GPU RAM: 4 GB Video Memory
- HARD DRIVE: At least 50 GB of free space
- DIRECTX: DirectX 11
- Windows 10 Home 64-bit
- OS: 64-bit: Windows® 10 (latest updates)
- Processor: Core i7-7700HQ 2.8 – 3.8 Ghz
- Memory: 16 GB RAM
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050
- DirectX: Version 11
Upon an unfinished world, humanity struggles to survive in a savage environment full of diverse threats. Equipped with incredible Javelin exosuits, a faction known as the Freelancers seeks to tip the balance in mankind’s favor.
In the beginning, the Gods harnessed The Anthem, a source of pure creation.
Wonderous lands erupted into existence. Colossal beasts, creatures and monsters emerged.
But before their work was complete, the Gods vanished, leaving behind an unfinished world strewn with the instruments of their creation. The power of The Antem would not be contained, unleashing world-altering cataclysms, transforming and corrupting those that tried to wield its power.
Humanity sought a way to survive, so our ancestors created the Javelin exosuits, handcrafted armor that gave us superhuman abilities.
Our world remains in an eternal struggle between the power of The Anthem and the instruments of the Gods who formed it. Today, the fate of humanity rests in the hands of a small band of Javelin pilots known as The Freelancers.
Unlike what I normally do, I’m not going to give any real details about the story. Instead, I will tell you what I think about it.
BioWare writers are masters creating vast worlds -and even universes- with intricate stories and sub-plots. This is something we all know. They bring a huge lore whenever a game is released, forcing the most devoted players to read quite a lot. This is the same for Anthem as there is so much story that we have to keep reading pieces of information very often.
What is the issue I have with this?
Basically, as a player, you don’t know where you are standing within the game story. You take contracts, you get some information about what is going on and you execute orders. After finishing your contract, they thank you and that’s about it.
But…BioWare normally give options during different dialogues, right?
Short answer, yes. However, in Anthem whichever decision you make don’t seem to affect your game at all. I got to the point where I just stopped caring about what they are telling me, and when I get to a decision, I read whatever they told me and choose accordingly. That’s it.
Is Anthem‘s story enjoyable? Yes. Is it worth going through every piece of data for a casual player of the game? No. Is it at all needed for casual players? Again, no.
Unfortunately, voice acting is lazy for this game. There’s no emotion in any conversation. Not even when someone is talking about their fallen friends. It makes no sense and makes you lose interest rather fast in whatever anyone is telling you. It feels robotic at times, forced other times. Overall, voice acting is highly disappointing.
Alright, when it comes to characters, as it is expected, we have a lot. This is the reason for me to take another different approach to this category. Instead of going one by one, I’ll give you an overall idea about what to expect.
Interestingly enough, Anthem comes with a super basic character creation screen. What you see above is what you get. There’s no customization whatsoever. What’s the catch? Besides this moment, you’ll never see your character again.
I won’t go into details about Javelin Exosuits. You can check out all the details at Anthem‘s website. What I can do for you is link you to each one of the Javelins.
Here is where customization does matter, though. You’ll have only one javelin at first, as you level up, you will be unlocking the other 3. They are customizable from their pieces (legs, arms, torso, helmet) up to their weapons. When it comes to visuals, you can change the material’s textures, color, and even add decals.
I’ve seen Ranger Javelins colored like Iron Man, for example. My Colossus is dark green with red pieces. Some people prefer to have really colorful javelins. That’s part of the fun. Bring all the colors of the rainbow if you want!
This is all you’ll see for a character. Even in places that are “social gathering” sites, you will see your character (lazily called “Freelancer”) wearing his Javelin. This is a really weird design choice because from that place you go to the city, and change to first person view, and to start a mission, you have to get into your suit.
See how they made some poor design choices here?
Here’s where things get interesting. I’ll have to ask you to just be patient here and go through the entire thing. If you have played the game, you’ll agree with most of this. If you haven’t, this is important.
I’m a lover of third-person shooters. Unlike first-person perspective, third person gives you more of a feel about playing a video game. I don’t care about acting as if I was the main character. I want to control my character, not be that character. With this in mind, you will understand that I enjoy most of Anthem‘s gameplay. Still, it is lacking a little bit of…well, everything.
Flying is a huge part of your contracts. You literally have to cycle between “flying to X place” and “kill stuff” until your mission is done. Every. Single. Mission.
This mechanic is fun-ish. In such a vast world where you can even go underwater and find massive caves, flying will be your best friend. Mastering the art of flying in this game will be your best investment as well. Basically your “jet pack” kind of thing will keep you flying for a while. You will have to measure how long you can fly. When you see you are losing speed, just go straight down. It will release some of the used power and let you fly some more.
If you don’t measure it right, your javelin will overheat and you won’t be able to fly for a bit. If there’s no space for you to have a free-fall, you’ll have to stop flying, run for a few meters while you cool down and then fly again.
When you stop flying around and start shooting at stuff (and getting shot at), you’ll get the real gameplay of this game. Sadly, there’s nothing that stands out for the shooting side of things here. You aim at a lot of enemies, shoot at them and kill them…or get killed.
The way shooting will work depends on your equipped weapons and gear. You can shoot missiles, use a shield, freeze enemies. You can also burn them down. It is all about what you get as drops and what you decide to take to each mission. Ranging from shotguns to sniper rifles, you’ll have enough options to decide which is your gaming style.
You know how you can normally take cover in third-person shooters? Don’t even go there, that’s not a feature in Anthem. Do you like to have a shooting session against hordes of challenging enemies? Well, I have bad news for you.
So far, I’ve been to quite a lot of contracts and a few strongholds. While contracts are normally short missions, strongholds can take up quite some time to complete. The issue I have is simple: AI is stupid. Many times I’ve been standing behind enemies and they don’t even see me. It feels like they compensated the fact that AI is so dumb with numbers.
Basically, you’ll fight against a lot of enemies at a time. They’ll be swarming against you and your team. But they are not following a plan, their only order is “GO!!!!”.
What I’ve noticed this far (although, a couple of friends have argued this with me) is that increasing the difficulty won’t make AI smarter. It will give them more health points (HP) and they will hit you way harder. That’s it. Yeah, that is more difficult for sure, but based on mere numbers, not strategy from the AI. Again, this is based on my experience.
So, what’s up with the poor design choice of having loading screens for absolutely everything? Who decided to do this? And more importantly, why?
I mean, we have this seamless neverending game world. However, for some super weird reason that I can’t understand, the main city you go to after your missions is hidden behind a loading screen. You also move from third-person to first-person view (as I mentioned earlier). Then, when you move from one place to another, there’s another loading screen. When going to a mission? You got it! LOADING SCREEN!
I have never played such a paused game. It takes about 20 minutes to finish a contract. So you go through a loading screen to wherever you want to go. Then, you go to first-person view to walk around the city, looking for a new contract. After you get it, you walk back to where your javelin is and start a new contract. Loading screen. Now you are in the menu. You select the contract, difficulty, if your team will be public or not and start the mission. Loading screen.
If there is a cut-scene during your mission, guess what?! LOADING SCREEN!!! Oh, and it happens twice. Once at the beginning, once at the end. Why do I need to go through loading screens on such an open world environment?
Something I haven’t told you. Sometimes, you’ll get network errors. Sometimes, you’ll be flying around following your team and out of nowhere, you’ll get a message saying you’ll be transported to the next place you have to be at. Guess what happens when you get this? Of course! You got it right! LOADING SCREEN!
As I’ve mentioned before, you’ll basically be taking contracts. You’re a “Freelancer” after all. What is the issue with these contracts? Simple, they are the same every single time.
- Follow the blue hexagons
- Reach the yellow marker
- Kill everything that appears there
- You may have to recover pieces of something while killing stuff and return them to where they belong
- Kill whatever is still standing
- Fly following the next set of hexagons
- Reach the yellow marker
- Kill everything again
- Contract completed
- Get your rewards
- Loading screen
That’s what you can expect from any contract. Then, there’s the Stronghold. This one is pretty much the same, but tougher and with a final boss. Interestingly enough, Strongholds are way more fun to play.
If there’s one thing Anthem excels at is the graphics. This world is amazing, and the fact that you not only can fly but also go through underwater caves is amazing. The level of detail in javelins and enemies is great, although, I was not amazed at characters themselves during your in-game discussions with them, or during cut-scenes.
I play games with surround sound. I like to feel as if something was walking nearby me and in which precise location they would be. That helps with my gaming experience. Anthem brought that. The sounds your javelin makes when moving, how your enemies move and make sound. Bullets. Explosions. Not to mention that you can get the game’s soundtrack through Origin and it is really good.
I’ve mentioned it throughout this review. I do enjoy Anthem. I like third-person shooters. But I hate the fact that I spend more time outside of missions than playing those contracts. I hate those long and constant loading screens. I don’t like, at all, that there are so many stupid design choices. Most of all, I hate that they brought a really good story, but were too lazy (or lacking budget, maybe?) to use better story-telling techniques, even by just enhancing the voice acting, it would be better.
There’s one huge complaint as well that I have, and I’ve got to know others do too. They were so lazy when it comes to bringing content at this point in time that there’s a mission that basically tells you to go complete secondary missions. Basically, grind around to go past the mission. That’s your objective. Complete other missions.
Thinking about the future, I can see a lot of potential for Anthem. However, there are different design choices that I can’t see getting fixed through a patch. As of right now, though, the game is disappointing at best.
In the words of a good friend of mine:
Anthem is the worst game I’ve ever been addicted to.
And that summarizes everything. Do I recommend the game? Only if you enjoy third person shooters. Is it fun? It is, if you don’t mind constant repetition and don’t mind waiting for minutes and minutes for loading screens to finally fade away.