'Anthem' Could Be Great Someday. Today Is Not That Day.

Anthem, which can be reductively but not deceptively described as BioWare’s take on Destiny but-with-Iron Man, is a strange game, and an even stranger game to write about.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/zmaq8y/anthem-could-be-great-someday-today-is-not-that-day

Mora. The indoor farm girl’s name is Mora.

Anyway, I’m mostly just sad that this game is kinda grinding me down and I haven’t even played it for that long. It’s just a back and forth between missions that aren’t engaging and the Fort Tarsis stuff that I just really cannot stand.

I’m trying so hard to pick the tersest, Stannis Baratheon-ass, dialog choices possible, but every conversation with NPC’s is like if a robot with no grasp of humor had to write an episode of Firefly. It’s the worst.

“Someday this will be very good”, the looter shooter motto.

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Is that what we call them now? I don’t like it.

i call anything with a gun in it “half-like” personally

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And another thing, they had to have paid top dollar to get Kristen Schaal in the game, so why the hell is she just a disembodied voice?

Maybe she has a character model that I just haven’t seen yet, but right now it’s looking like a pretty dramatic waste of money and talent

Anthem doesn’t take even take time to explain basic concepts about its universe, even when they sound cool as heck . The premise driving Anthem is great: a society ditched by their gods, but the gods left their broken tools of creation behind, and they’re glitching out. Hell yeah! Or how about the Scars, one of the main factions you fight against, but the game doesn’t introduce properly? Well, Austin read the codex and get this: they’re millenia-old bug creatures who adopt the look of the predominant species on the planet! Extremely good, but most players will simply see the Scars as blobs of red polygons to shoot in search of drops.

This is one of my biggest pet peeves with the game as it is right now. The Cortex (apparently different than a Codex) is chock full of fascinating bits of lore and world-building.

The Outlaws are a caste of lumpen proletariat-turned-Homo Sacer who’ve cultivated their own society outside the city walls that shunned them? Cool!

None of the technology used by this world’s inhabitants is understood because cosmic horror gods left it all behind when they just left? AND their society’s primary source of media entertainment is radio plays? Neat!

The Anthem of Creation is a literal song that destroys the minds of those who hear it, is spilling out of control, and reifies all things into existence? Weird…but that’s rad!

There’s a lot of great writing in the fringes of this game, and I just don’t understand why none of it is organically presented in the main narrative. The base campaign is serviceable at best on its own, and having all these facets of what the world you’re in actually is could have been a great way to make it feel more Bioware-y. But…right now it only lives in the cortex for people who want to read it.

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She’s plays the vendor you unlock when you reach lvl 2 rep with the Arcanists. Are you hearing her voice before doing that?

Yes, if you go to the crafting elements page of the Featured store, she’ll chime in that the store has “new items”

The latest Beastcast has taken to calling them “shlooters”. About as good a name as the subgenre deserves IMO.

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Honestly enjoying most of the Tarsis dialogue so far. Humour must be subjective, apparently.
Had 2 CtDs so far, which is better than Andromeda, so yay?

Honestly, that just sounds like diarrhea

Oh weird. Yeah, her shop is the crafting mats store (similar to how Prospero’s store is just the “Featured” page in the menu). Maybe they forgot to turn off her voice before she’s actually introduced? Either way, she’s definitely a full-fledged character in the game you can eventually talk to.

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purely from looking at wikipedia

2012: anthem dev begins
2014: destiny (started in 2010) released, casey hudson departs
2017: actual name of “anthem” revealed, hudson comes back?

i fully recognise how cynical it would be thinking that 2 companies couldn’t come up with High Budget Gun MMO simultaneously and independently of each other though.

also, interestingly, from this interview 2 years ago https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2017-06-20-anthem-coincidentally-the-start-of-a-10-year-journey-for-ea-and-bioware

“[Anthem is] a social game where you and your friends go out on quests and journeys. It’s a game that we’ve been working on for almost four years now. And it’s a game that - once we launch it next year - will be the start of maybe a 10-year journey for us.”

[…]

Regarding Anthem’s performance, Soderlund said: "I pushed the development team and told them a lot of these open-world/shared-world games sacrifice fidelity because it’s a technical problem. But I challenged them and said, ‘Let’s think about this in a way where we don’t sacrifice fidelity and we can basically get to the same level of fidelity, or higher, as you would in a secluded map but in an open-world map.’

“It took time to get that done, but with some smart investment in technology, some smart design and an incredible art team, we got there. I can firmly say that I haven’t seen any open-world game that looks as this, ever, which is what we wanted.”

it sounds like an awful lot of resources went into making a Technical Accomplishment with some game bits added on. though from what i’ve seen (namely, Patrick Gill’s video and a Giant Bomb QL), the world seems extremely homogeneous.

i’d also be interested in what the working conditions were like for this game.

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I’m just glad I paid $5 to try this for a few hours.

Was going to buy just based off the two hours I got to play of a closed beta but yeah not so much anymore.

Wonder if EA regrets giving people a $5 try option that also came with $10 worth of Apex coins. I imagine I’m not the only lost sale because of this

This is, word for word, point for point, literally any review of the launch state of Destiny.

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This was an excellent review that I find myself very in sync with. I’ve been really enjoying this game! But I think it’s mainly because I had the right expectations going in and am treating it like an early access game. Obviously that’s not how it was advertised and so I’m never gonna blame anyone for not having my experience, and would probably recommend most people give it a pass for a couple months.

But it is working for me! Bland mission design doesn’t super bother me when the moment to moment is fun, and especially not when I’m with friends or listening to a podcast. The endgame loot I’ve seen looks really excellently crunchy in the same way Diablo or POE are. The conversations have been hit or miss but overall a lot more fun than not. And the setting is interesting enough, the devs responsive enough, and the core gameplay and pitch strong enough that I’m genuinely excited to see how it changes over the months of service.

But I am also the person who finds watching the process of development itself fun on its own terms, and I’m sure that’s a driving factor.

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For me, the main problem is there just doesn’t even seem like a good foundation to build on. Everyone keeps saying “well Destiny/Destiny 2 sucked at first too but got way better” but Destiny always had great gameplay and shooting at its core. It had cool-ass areas to poke around and very good art direction. It let you carry more than two guns, and gave all those guns interesting names and well-written descriptions and made you feel at least a little proud to have them. Anthem has none of this really.

Sure, they’ll add more content for sure and make small tweaks to the formula to switch things up, but they can’t even begin to address what seems like serious, core issues that just make the whole thing aggressively boring. I mean, if people were casually throwing around the word “disaster” back at Destiny’s launch, I’m not even sure what you’d call something like this

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The loading times still being so long is pretty crazy, guess Anthem’s performance is out of tune.

Bad pitch too, Destiny but you get to fly around. I guess somewhere along the line they realized level design just for running and jumping around is hard let alone flying too so you don’t have a lot of levels making great use of like, the one thing differentiating it.

A lot of what Patrick notes here are issues I had with Destiny, I loved the setting and the (extremely 70s) art direction and the music and the atmosphere in Destiny, but the actual writing and story you’d get while actually running around doing stuff was just, like, insanely insultingly bad to me. What a waste of a premise. Anthem seems to have taken that one step further.

They should called the game Dirge.

I don’t know, sometimes these games sort of interest me, I’m not going to act as if I wasn’t hooked on Destiny for a couple of months, but Anthem is something I think I was always going to be really cynical about. The color palette and all, it always looked like videogame.jpg caliber stuff to me, it’s really disappointing now that I read this and read about the game’s back story more and how cool all of that sounds.

And @Foxtrot is right. I do think Destiny and its sequel are bad games but the basic foundation is solid. The foundation with Anthem is Destiny but you can fly, but not quite as much as you might want to. Destiny’s main problem was lack of content, but this is pretty rough stuff.

All these years of work and it’s just another $60 nothing attempt at what Warframe does for free. Though I’m assuming like with a lot of heavily delayed games we’re seeing a re-started and rushed final product here.

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I feel like it comes to an impasse in a situation like this, where you won’t want to buy the game because it’s not great, but based on EA’s history it might not get the long tail support it needs to meet its potential even with a descent cult following.

How often was a live game planned and couldn’t keep itself above water before it was quietly discontinued? How many MMOs came in the wake of the WoW craze that failed to catch a meaningful audience and had to shut down or go free to play?

I go up and down on this game depending on where I am in the review or podcast; I think I can see a path forward with it, but at other points I’m less sure if it’s even moldable enough or if it’s something more fundamental to its construction.
Either way it’s going to take some dramatic heavy lifting to get it to a place I’m sure Bioware and the players interested wanted it to be. I’m certain Destiny 1 would’ve overhauled their game sooner and more often had it not been built on such a production unfriendly engine.

I’m interested in how it develops, both the game and the circumstances surrounding it, the retrospectives will probably be interesting.