Anthem has been and still is taken apart by the gaming press. Although BioWare is known for its high quality games, the reviews go to the basement. We have also tested Anthem and see if it is really that bad. In order to clarify this question, one or the other spoiler appears in this test!
BioWare is actually known for its comprehensive and historical productions of single-player games. Some names are for example Mass Effect, Dragon Age or Baldurs Gate. For many people the scenario of a Loot-Shooter in this development studio was strange. After some trailers, interviews and shown game material the hope of the fans was great.
In Anthem we move on the planet Bastion. In a high-tech combat suit, the Javelins, we complete every mission. Only in the city, Fort Tarsis, do we move outside the suit. Our goal, as part of the faction of freelancers, is to stop the so-called Dominion with their leader. They want to use the anthem, a mysterious force, to plunge the planet into chaos.
Sounds exciting, but after about 20 hours we’ve completed the main leg including the side missions. Like the story, the side missions don’t offer much variety. “Kill X enemies”, “Fly there and defeat all enemies” or just press blunt “F” to activate any transmitter. There are also fortresses for the final game, which we get to know during the campaign. These offer a higher degree of difficulty, but currently there are only three of them. We even see two of them in the campaign.
Never Alone, Always in Cooperation
An interesting feature: You’re never alone on these missions. With three other players you’ll battle your way through the enemy waves and complete the missions. However, tactical procedures fall by the wayside, as firstly no communication with the other Javelins is possible (no voice chat) and secondly the interaction is rather limited to the revival of the other players. With the right equipment even the higher levels of difficulty are no problem.
But the Javelin suit offers a lot of flexibility for the fights. Simply fly out of a dicey situation, dodge rockets or snipers by roll and then strike back with a lightning storm. The number of enemies often makes the fights hectic, with the right abilities larger groups of enemies are no problem. Also included is a Super ability that has a higher decay/recharge time than the others, but is all the more powerful.
With the weapons in Anthem, it’ll be done in no time. They are means to an end and very interchangeable. With the abilities the Javelins become really unique and bring a lot of fun into the game. There are different types of weapons like shotguns, precision rifles and assault rifles, but the individual weapons of one type always feel the same.
If Fort Tarsis and the Load Times Weren’t
Fort Tarsis is the hub of Anthem. There you will receive new missions, hold dialogues with NPCs and improve your Javelin. Although BioWare is known for its very well staged games, the city feels somewhat lifeless. The same faces always stand in the same place and even the dialogues with their possible answers harbor a great potential that is given away. Your answers have no effect on the game. The dialogues are well written, for story interested people certainly something special – BioWare has always been able to do that.
In the smithy, improve your Javelin. The four available ones all have different special abilities that cannot be adjusted. Visually, the Javelins can only be slightly reworked. It’s a pity, because such combat suits offer players a lot of room in an MMO to stand out from the crowd. And yes, there are microtransactions.
There’s no more talent trees to get the most out of his suit. With the equipment and the always new finding of better abilities you strengthen the Javelin – a pure Loot-Shooter without depth. The system is quickly learned. In order to create more playful freedom, a talent tree or even more adaptability would certainly not have hurt.
The biggest shortcoming of Anthem is the loading times already mentioned. BioWare has made improvements and shortened loading times. However, it is advisable to install the game on an SSD. As soon as you enter a tunnel in the open world in a mission, there is a loading time. Especially with long loading times, when your team is running ahead, this can be frustrating. You’ve just finished loading the mission and will be thrown directly into the next loading screen.
Conclusion on Anthem
Meanwhile Twitch has become a good indicator for the popularity of a game. There Anthem now ranks quite low with an average of 1,000 spectators per day and that after such a short time. Anthem is by no means a bad game. It is a graphically very respectable game and also the game system, the connection between Shooter and SciFi is successful. Especially flying, dodging and fighting in a suit is fun.
But BioWare needs to be improved. The loading times are probably the biggest shortcoming. But also the missing Endgame-Content as well as the playful depth do not do justice to the demands of the players simply. Electronic Arts has to give BioWare the time to take the feedback of the players into consideration and not just try to limit the damage.
Is Anthem really that bad? Difficult because it’s a solid game with a lot of potential. If you are comfortable with the fact that there are still some problems and you can wait for improvements, then you should beat them. Anthem is fun, but long-term motivation is not yet given.
|+ with the side emissions packing
|– long drawn through the dialogs
– Decisions no effect
|+ good connection between Shooter and SciFi
+ good weapon feeling
|– monotonous quests
– Loading screens…
– too sparse adaptation of the javelin
|+ balance between weapons and spells good
|– Pile of opponents without great difficulty
– no visible progress when leveling up or improving the Javelin
|+ flying with the Javelin very fun!
|– much too hectic in big battles
Graphic & Sound
|+ Frostbite-Engine always looks good!
+ cool soundtack
|– with a lot of action you can only see effects of abilities