BioWare Admits 'Anthem' Was a Failure, With a Promise to Rebuild It

I should further clarify: I think it would be cool if Anthem was fixed. But knowing everything we do about its development, the terrible studio leadership, the projects its bloat killed and talent is drove away, and the understanding that Casey Hudson came back to the company to finish the game tells me that the want to fix Anthem is not a creative desire bu the devs in the trenches (or at least most of them) but one by Hudson and some of studio management itself, which is how Anthem got to be the mess it is in the first place.

FFXIV’s fixing was an act of humility and trying to right a mistake. But Anthem? This feels more like an attempt for management to heal their bruised egos, and I haven’t seen enough to suggest to me they aren’t just going to crunch their devs again or will actually plan out their goals for the project.

They called the game Project Dylan! Hudson and those in charge want to make Anthem worthwhile because it is their biggest stain, not because they did wrong by their fans.

The language I’m seeing between FFXIV’s fixing process and the general tone from Bioware tells me no lesson has truly been learned. This feels like egotists wanting to continue feeling like they’re the big special boys again. They called crunch “Bioware magic.” They have not earned my good faith.

I want to be proven wrong, and hopefully I will be, but just the sheer number of bad decisions made by Bioware in the last decade can’t be ignored.

5 Likes

I think you might be giving Square too much credit. I remember watching the Noclip video about FFXIV and there sure was a lot of coded talk about doubling down and getting the job done to fix the game, which read to me like crunch was happening. And I don’t know how much stock we can put into how this stuff is communicated, seeing as the FF team likely had all their English messaging punched up by translation/marketing folks. I would argue both the Anthem and FF situations were more motivated by hubris than artistry, seeing as FFXIV was simply a way for Square to further capitalize on the ungodly money they made in the predatory market of MMOs with FFXI.

2 Likes

True, but Anthem doesn’t quite strike me the same based on what we’ve gleamed of how upper Bioware sees themselves. It tells me there’s no real humility in recognizing what they did wrong.

This is also a different situation in that Bioware is still beholden by EA, who have to have their patience running out now.

1 Like

I’d rather that BioWare get to make games at about the scale of Respawn’s Fallen Order, with their distinct focus on story roleplaying, than have them try to salvage a project that was largely incompatible with their creative strengths. Do we really want every prominent developer to be stuck doing live service games like this?

11 Likes

I mean, aren’t they doing that with DA4? And I wouldn’t say that Anthem is incompatible with BioWare’s creative strengths. I for one played a ton of ME3 multiplayer and would argue that Anthem is the best feeling shlooter I’ve played yet.

1 Like

No, that version of DA4 was very specifically cancelled. (For the sake of Anthem, in fact.)

The new version they’re working on is more of a live service game.

2 Likes

Already talks of that one being a live service

1 Like

Also, to get really cynical for a moment, the difference between FFXIV’s revival and the service games that got redeemed in fans’ eyes is, the former fundamentally reinvented itself to both improve all the core systems at play and use those as leverage to tell a genuinely compelling long-form story, whereas most of those service games just struggled for a while to find the right calibration on their emotionally sterile skinner boxes.

If the end result of this ends up being “another properly calibrated addictive online game” with next-to nothing resembling BioWare’s knack for imbuing their games with a 90s genre television sensibility (because you know that the story segments will probably be the first thing to get cut down in Anthem 2.0), then we’ve gained nothing except for another slightly different flavor of Destiny.

7 Likes

The best possible outcome I can see is that Anthem becomes a highly profitable (possibly skinner box-y) vehicle to fund a long form Bioware story, either in the game, or elsewhere.

Do I believe in that outcome? Not really. I liked the good parts of Anthem quite a bit, but I do I think whatever made Bioware work is gone.

I absolutely want to see what BioWare can do with a 2nd crack at Anthem. The feel of the movement and combat are really top notch, and there’s simply not anything else out there that captures the feeling of seamlessly switching from flying around a battlefield, to hovering above enemies, raining down hellfire on them all, and switching back to flying around while dodging missiles and sniper fire.

Unfortunately, the actual story they were trying to tell was not told well at all. The characters and performances that were there certainly evoked some of what BioWare has done well in the past; I felt like there were some characters that I COULD attach to and have a vested interest in if only they would let me spend more time with them and have less than surface-level interactions with them.

And beyond the story issues, the endgame was pretty much abysmal. I’m certainly open to spending time on the looter-shooter treadmill, but at this point, there are other options that provide a more consistently rewarding experience than Anthem could ever muster.

The fundamental issues of providing compelling things to do, along with making me actually care about the characters and world do leave me a bit skeptical about it all coming together. But the things that work in Anthem are simply too damn good for me to want them to give up on them for good.

Also, the soundtrack slaps. The composer of it also did the AC: Origins soundtrack, which also slapped. Please give me more of that.

2 Likes

I don’t know that anthem is worth saving but I do find it very funny that the one thing everyone generally seems to agree is good (the flying) is in there because of executive meddling. Specifically Patrick Soderlund telling them that their first demo was completely unacceptable and them re-adding flight in to impress him. But this also points to them not ever really having a clear vision for what they wanted the game to be and it shows. They also definitely didn’t seem to figure out what it was in any of the initial post launch stuff before they very obviously just gave up and tbh i’m not convinced that there’s any chance of saving anthem without just building a whole new game from the ground up.

4 Likes

Oh absolutely the FFXIV devs were ground into dust to make ARR in time. To SE’s credit, 1.0’s failure was rightly placed at the feet of management and management took the brunt of the punishment; most of the rank and file staff stayed on between 1.0 and ARR.

Speaking of which, a side benefit of developing ARR and improving 1.0 simultaneously was that they used 1.0 as a glorified test server for new types of content they were planning for ARR (e.g. different types of FATEs were piloted as Hamlet Defense and Chocobo Delivery missions). Combine that with a compelling in-fiction reason that the world is destroyed and you have the makings of a good relaunch.

1 Like

Anthem has really great faces. I just wanna say.

1 Like

It’s a strange move to me considering the fact that in 9 months new consoles are coming out. Is ea going to want to put in the time in to port it? Cause it seems that any goodwill is going to get swept away inevitably with the turn to attention. Idk

The XSX is already confirmed to support Xbone games, and it’ll probably be the same story with PS5 to 4.

If nothing else, the advent of live service games has likely been a motivator for platform holders to incorporate proper backwards compatibility right at launch this time.

This is 100% why I say it’s not worth saving, yeah. This wasn’t some grand vision that just never came together, it was a directionless mess from the start.

5 Likes

Count me in for team Anthem. Game was fun and the best of the looter shooters despite all its problems. I will be ecstatic to see what they do with a rethink!

1 Like

I actually liked Anthem and played it pretty consistently for about a month and change after start. My biggest issue/concern with this announcement is the engine. This game ran like hot garbage and was incredibly unstable from a network perspective. The gameplay side was mostly solid, but I’m worried the foundation of this game is not redeemable.

I really hope this relaunch happens. I’ve largely felt on the outside of most of the discussion about it for a couple of reasons.

First, because I not only played and very much enjoyed Anthem, despite its admittedly impressive array of bugs, but always intended to play more if there was a major expansion.

And second, because I’ve never gotten into any other Bioware game so a lot of the comparisons and expectations are mostly lost on me. If they decide to focus on something more like their previous output I’ll just have to try to be happy for the people who like them and go back to Destiny or Monster Hunter :sweat_smile:.

3 Likes