Loading times = the refractory period
I feel like this is an accurate list of comparisons:
Ranger = Ironman
Interceptor = Knight Saber
Storm = Storm, but the X-Man
Colossus = Gundam, maybe a Zaku.
I don’t like paying launch prices for games, but I’ve casually met a few of the people who worked on Anthem, and ‘shlooters’ are something I enjoy as a wind down So I bought it partly out of support for some good folks, partly out of Bioware fandom, and partly out of interest in the genre. I found the open beta hugely disappointing to the point of unplayability.
I really dug the game I played last night though. The battle suit feels like a battle suit. Slightly out of control, just a little more power than you can reasonably handle, armoured but fragile against the right (wrong?) things. I have a lot of hours to go before I understand I’ll hit the loot grind, but if the combat and flying around keeps being this fun, I’ll be here a while.
The not combat parts really need some work, but it’s a lack of polish I can forgive for now.
I feel like lore wise, this is kinda what happens when you build a world that seems super great on paper, but you haven’t figured out how it really needs to be presented yet. The needs of a multiplayer looter shooter demand a certain structure, and I think just making that work didn’t leave a lot of room to really tighten up the rest of it.
It feels like Bioware took a big risk here, and I’m not sure it’s going to pay off, even though I like it. Once the gaming internet starts to even look lukewarm at something like this, it can take a while to rebuild and re-impress.
I think this might be one of my favorite things so far? The javelins control in a slightly clumsy way, but it feels like an intentionally designed clumsy. It doesn’t interfere with actually getting from point a to b, or from blowing up whatever you need to blow up, but the feeling of a fussy piece of mercenary equipment is there and it…I dunno, it adds something to the whole thing.
The colossus is actually panning out to be one of the 2 good suits based on what people who have hit the endgame are saying. The ranger doesnt really work without a bunch of gear synergies and the interceptor tends to go splat if you actually try and use melee a lot of stuff on grandmaster.
One thing I’m finding really interesting about Anthem over my time with Destiny is that the third person perspective has made me care more about being stylish than being optimized. Like, as the Storm, I’m hanging on to a slightly lower level machine gun that’s not accurate from range just because I like the aesthetic of raining bullets in between my abilities. (Y’know, the fourth element; fire, ice, lightning, and bullets)
Anybody else going for the cooler and more interesting weapons and upgrades over just pure numbers? I dunno, this type of progression feels less repetitive than Destiny’s. It feels a bit like you’re unlocking an arsenal to pick from depending on how you want to play. If Bioware can fix the awful menu and loadout system to something more streamlined (and maybe in the pause menu), that could be the special sauce that truly differentiates this game in the shlooter market.
I’m maining Interceptor because I like the super sentai look its got going on, does that count?
I picked Storm because the idea of a magic mech is great (its why im an Exo Warlock in Destiny!) but I think I would have had much more fun as a Colossus or an Interceptor and its literally only because I like Gundam and Bubblegum Crisis respectively.
Seriously I cant get over the fact the Interceptor just looks like Priss’ armor from BGC.
Okay, I hadn’t heard of Bubblegum Crisis before now and yes, that’s a much more accurate comparison than Super Sentai
Super Sentai is the same energy though. Slap some red and silver on that sucker and toe to tip its a Red Ranger.
Oh side note: Can I voice that I’m a little upset by how this game starts? You’re introduced to your Freelancer’s previous team which includes several people of colour, one of whom is disabled and whos life is obviously impacted positively by his ability to use a Javelin and then they just… unceremoniously die? And that core theme of bodies is just not touched on in text again, and every character after that (potentially excepting your own, whom you never see again and the fucking shopkeeper) is white? It fuckin’ sucks! I’ll give the game leeway to come back to all that and maybe im reading too much into it but it’s not a great way to start a game about piloting big suits that fundamentally change how you interact with and move around the world imo!
So what’s everybody’s crash count? I’m at two.
UPDATE: Actually, I think the game’s just bugging out right now. It’s telling me I can’t connect to EA’s servers, I’ve got no sound and it’s extremely stuttery
I’m going to disagree with you there. Lots of spoilers for, let’s say, the whole story to follow:
Though everyone (minus you, Haluk, and Faye) die in the first mission, the biopolitics of Anthem still remain. Haluk’s whole thing is that his masculine persona has become too difficult to maintain now as a result of age and taking one injury too many. He doesn’t want you helping them – in part – because he wants to believe that he can still embody the Freelancer ideal. But he can’t. He’s introduced using a cane, though still fully capable of participating in Javelin combat. When he tries to get his javelin going again, two years later, he can’t. And he doesn’t want to accept that. He then manages to get it moving and heads out on his own (note: I still have no clue how this happened; I get that plots need the occasional contrivance, but when did he suddenly become able to pilot his javelin well enough to get out of the basement, let alone go all the way to the Fortress of Dawn?) But, regardless, when you confront him about this – about the bodily paradigm shift he needs to recognize – he begrudgingly acknowledges it. That whatever super powers his Javelin gave him aren’t there anymore. Now he recognizes that while he can’t fight on the frontlines like he would want, he can use his experience to help a newer generation of Freelancers overcome Bastion’s obstacles. (Another note: I didn’t realize how weirdly ageist and ableist Haluk’s arc can be until writing this. Like, I get that BioWare probably wanted the logistics of access to Javelins to be a little more complicated than “you learn to fly them and then you buy/lease/steal one,” but an inherent necessity for physical capability adds a somewhat uncomfortable layer of implication w/r/t who exactly gets to be Iron Man.)
And then there’s also the Cyphers: So this one takes a little more inference – as in, reading Cortex entries – but I feel as though they might be one of the more interesting elements in Anthem’s world from a sociological perspective. They’re these people who have a unique aptitude for hearing the Anthem. They can’t actually do that though without intervention and training. Faye, Owen, et al. are implied to be taken in as children (in Owen’s case: being sold off by his destitute parents), and raised outside their social networks for the sole purpose of serving Bastion’s logistical and communicative needs. And to actually serve that role, they have to undergo a procedure that’s incredibly dangerous. Owen says that some get it worse than others, but no one becomes a Cypher without becoming permanently scarred – mentally – in some way. To become a Cypher is to transform the self. And then there’s the risks of this cultivated ability w/r/t the Anthem itself. Toward the end of the campaign, Faye begins telling you about her experiences being so close to the Anthem of Creation. It affected her like a drug, where for a single instant, the whole of existence was comprehensible. But then it left her, and she has spent the past two years hoping to feel that sensation again. She wants nothing more than to find that meaning again, even though she knows she was lucky it didn’t kill her the first time (like it did for every other Cypher at the Cataclysm).
Now I’m not saying that Anthem is particularly good at handling these themes, but I think they’re definitely there. Even though the primary story is definitely left wanting, the foundation of what’s there does, imo, make for a compelling case for considering the relationship between the technology of Anthem and the people who use it/benefit from it.
You absolutely do not have to unequip weapons before equipping them on another javelin. I have multiple things on multiple suits.
Also…Colossus not bad. Colossus fantastic. It’s what I main and I love its versatility once you get used to how it moves and how to use the shield. I alternate between a couple of different Colossi builds depending on my mood - one’s all about raining down fire and shells from a distance, priming and setting off combos with a wall of fire and an artillery shell. The other is focused on getting up-close and personal with an electrical charge that hits everything in a circle around me, and a flamethrower. Both prime combos, then I melee to set them off with a big KA-THONK.
I’m genuinely loving the game so far. It has some quality of life things that can be adjusted and the load screens can be shortened but I’m far more invested in the story and characters than I ever was with something like Destiny and I’m much more about third-person perspective and extremely groove with the pace and rhythm of Anthem’s combat, so this is very much my shit.
I should mention that my response is based solely on a first impression which soured me, but I am happy to hear that those characters return to the story and that it seems as though they make some good on it. I should also mention that I’m playing the game through origin access and I’ve only seen about 3 hours.
The Cyphers are the most interesting part of the game to me so far, and as grating as I find Owen, I did like the conversation you have early on with him about the topics and themes you mention in your post.
Honestly though I still find myself being confused and overwhelmed in mission and the game is extremely difficult to follow. I think I want this game to be something that it just… isn’t? I want more stuff in the home base where I can talk and see what the story has to offer (I even like the slow movement speed in Fort Tarsis!) and less of the flying and shooting which for whatever reason is wreaking havoc on my brain. Even if this had the pausing of Mass Effect (which, yes, I understand just fundamentally wouldn’t work with the game’s structure) I would be more eager to stick with it.
I get that. The flying works for me, but I can see how it might also be a total sensory nightmare for others. And I really like Bastion as this well-considered society, with a somewhat unique historical foundation. But I just hate using the menus and walking around Fort Tarsis. Everything feels so cumbersome to interact with, and Fort Tarsis doesn’t really have anything in it besides people to talk to and static things to look at (and why is it so quiet?). Which is a shame, because like so many things in Anthem, there’s a ton of potential there, but it’s not exactly well-realized. (That said: I can tolerate the slow movement in Fort Tarsis, but I do often wish I could just run over to the Sentinel station when I just need to pick up a contract.)
And without spoilers, there are more, prominent people of color you haven’t met yet in the story – complete with their own stories to hear/participate in.
Good to hear and I assumed there would be! It was just extremely jarring to watch what is presented as a competent, badass, relatively diverse crew get iced to return to the game talking to the most white-ass able-bodied people. I don’t know what the popular critical opinion is of the game’s first impression but it doesn’t make a great one imo.
Though I will say your responses are encouraging! Anthem could be something I’ll really like some day, I think, but I don’t think It’ll be after my Origin Access period ends. Like I did with Destiny 2, I think I just need to give BioWare some more time with the game.
EDIT: Dante Douglas’ review over at Paste encapsulates my feelings so far much better and more more articulately and I ever could: https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2019/02/the-disappointing-anthem-tries-to-do-too-much.html
I had 2 CTDs the first day. Since then the game hung itself twice during transitions after Stronghold and Freeplay respectively (still got loot and XP, so all is well) and had its sound bug out once (“the silence”).
I’m not too bothered by it, I played way buggier games (ME:A multiplayer had the same problems but dialed up to eleven). I’m also not seeing the huge loading times others seem to be experiencing - maybe having a good SSD and oodles of RAM helps.
There’s no sanity check on gear rolls, so you can roll guns with useless inscriptions on them and that really blows.
It’s good to hear that the Colossus isn’t actually bad for the endgame! I’m getting better with using my shield to block fire.
@ligeti Concerning Haluk, I got to that cutscene last night and I was getting the sense that it was a mental block that was stopping him from controlling his suit. I haven’t progressed further than that, so I may be missing some important context. Based on that scene alone, I read that scene as Haluk’s grief and self-doubt preventing him from maintaining the proper connection to the suit. I also haven’t read much from the Cortex yet so, once again, I may be missing some context here.
Could it be better? Certainly, but that doesn’t change the fact that I have LOVED my time with this game so far. I was big into WoW back in my college days, and had a lot of fun with Destiny when it launched. Something about MMO style just does it for me. Having a busy day job and a kid waiting at home, I just don’t have the time for games like I used to. Being able to hop in after my daughter is asleep and play for a few hours on my character just works for me. Whether I want to freeplay and do a couple world events to get some loot drops for one of my off-suits (LOVE not having to completely reroll to try new stuff) - or if I want to just mill around Fort Tarsis and learn about the NPCs’ lives (I ALWAYS stop by Saryna’s booth, because I love that Kristen friggin Schall is in a Bioware game) - I enjoy my time with the game. I’ve had crashes, sure, but I typically just dust off and jump back in, after grabbing a drink or something during the loading screen.
I love this game, and I can tell as it improves, I will probably love it more and more. That first stronghold experience with my buddies… It was so much damn fun, and scratched an itch I’ve had since my days of WoW dungeon dives. Can’t wait for more…
Also, the Cortex is full of great lore dumps. I realize that this method isn’t for everyone, but having read most of the Mass Effect Novels, I’m okay with putting in some of the work to learn about this brand new universe they’ve dreamt up.