Release Date: 02/15/2019
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Anthem has been a long time coming debuting 6 years at E3 and exciting BioWare fans with the teaser. It looked amazing and was said to be as rich and detailed as Mass Effect, but as the years went on BioWare was very choosy about what was shown and the final product didn’t look anything like the original teaser. I for one had no idea what Anthem was about or what kind of game it was due to BioWare’s cryptic info up until release. I started to play the game and didn’t understand all the hate as the first 2 hours are pretty fun as the core mechanics are introduced to you, but after those 2 hours, the game turns into a sluggish repetitive mess that feels like a chore to get through.
When you start out you are introduced to pre-rendered 1080p videos that try to explain the story. There’s something called the Anthem which is a religion and you’re a Javelin which was used to stop some sort of storm that wiped everyone out…yeah it really doesn’t make much sense and isn’t explained very well. The story is more of an afterthought than a forefront to keep the player engaged. Once you get through the tutorial mission and into the main city you start understanding how the game plays and just how repetitive everything really gets.
The core mechanics are fine as the shooting is solid, the movement is quick and zippy by being able to fly through the air on a dime and maneuver quickly around enemies. The game also looks absolutely fantastic with beautiful vistas and amazing lighting effects, but that eye candy and flair kind of dies off quickly around the 3-4 hour mark. When you fly around in your jet-pack you have a heat meter and either diving steeply or flying near water will cool it down. Honestly, it’s just really annoying and there’s almost no point to having this cool down meter since missions have you flying around an entire map. Second, there aren’t many objectives to actually complete during this loot and shoot cycle just defend a point, defeat all the enemies, stick smaller stones into bigger stones, and gather smaller orbs to deactivate a storm. It’s fine at first and the first few missions have an illusion of mission variety, but you witness everything in the first 2 hours.
Let’s take into effect that once you start unlocking all the menus and things you can do upgrading becomes a grind as most upgrades are locked behind a paywall. Secondly, unless you do a mission with at least one other person online your chances of surviving get really slim as most missions are designed for multiple players. There’s also the issue of only exploring one large map that’s cut into smaller pieces. You’re either in an outdoor forest or a cave and that’s about it. I rarely came across guns or anything that was better than what I already had and forget about purchasing stuff as everything is such a grind and is literally locked away.
Outside of the main missions you can free roam, but this is dull and boring and finding X amount of chests or Y amount of items to get this stupid gun you don’t need isn’t my idea of fun. You can also do tomb raids which literally amount to nothing except a memo to read after acquiring all these items for sometimes hours. It’s the most disappointing looter shooter I have ever played. I’m talking about worse than vanilla Destiny. There are also issues where matchmaking is practically broken where you can quickly play to the end of the game missions and either they are halfway through the mission or just finished and you miss that entire mission. There are also long load times that are quite frequent and are ridiculous.
Is there any redeeming quality of Anthem then? Maybe if you play with friends as I would rather play with AI partners that have personality and add to the story. The game looks amazing but requires a high-end rig to get good FPS. If you’re into boring mindless loot grinding then this game probably is for you, but even with boring mindless loot grinders there’s a reward at the end somewhere and this game just feels like it’s tricking you to the end of its rainbow only to have a turd there instead of treasure. I honestly doubt this game will get better over time like Destiny or The Division did. There’s so much wrong with this game outside of the bugs (I actually had a DirectX crash that said my GPU was magically removed mid-game by the way)