Anyone else walk away from the end of the EA press conference feeling slightly confused while excited? When BioWare announced Anthem during E3 2017, it was with a trailer showcasing giant bi-pedal robots, jungle vistas pock marked with ruins and exo-suits that looked as powerful as they were cool. Taking the stage at the end of EA’s presser, Bioware had a bit more time to talk about the game, even touching on what exactly a Javelin suit is. So why don’t I feel excited?
Sci-fi and video games go hand-in-hand, some might even say the industry is saturated with such games — and it is — which goes to explain why maybe this year Anthem didn’t hit that same chord as it did last year. Obviously, much can be said for a good trailer, and the 2017 Anthem introduction was designed in a way that made it appealing with intrigue of play. BioWare was getting up close and personal with the player in that first trailer, it felt almost the exact opposite this year. Nothing wrong with toning it down, but when BioWare took to the stage to talk about Anthem all the familiar words and talking points made the rounds. Many will joke that it’s a Destiny 2 clone or insert any other game that looks similar, but that’s games.
The whole showing felt rather safe, which, given that BioWare had a bit of a rough patch with a large part of its fanbase due to Mass Effect: Andromeda’s failings — playing it safe makes sense. Anthem, from what was shown on stage today, seems to be coming along, it’s just hard to tell if it is going to be any good or not. Even BioWare explaining certain game elements felt safe in this way of, ‘hey, we really don’t want to step on any toes’ BioWare is a big company and they most certainly know it’s impossible not to make someone mad who plays games, it just seems like playing it tame at E3 didn’t do anything to put a fire into audiences to get excited about Anthem. It just looked… good, and that was it.
Anthem is certainly borrowing from games like Destiny 2 and Monster Hunter: World and that’s a good thing, both of those titles have elements that make for fun play. It becomes hard to discern if Anthem is worth playing though when realizing that once February 22, 2019 rolls around; Destiny 2 will have been deep in Forsaken and Monster Hunter: World is sure to continue to churn out content. The only real grab right now from Anthem is those javelin suits. They do look pretty radical and for anyone who is sucker for any type of mech-piloting this is an easy sell, especially given the complete 360 degree movement that seems to truly allow for anywhere play whether flying, on land or underwater. The enemies shown today had a typical feel about them which can be said for much of what was shown. Instead of betting on Anthem being that new unique thing, maybe BioWare should double down on quality of play and improving upon design systems that players are familiar with from other games while still showcasing the Javelin suits that seem to be a backbone for Anthem.
Anthem seems to be coming along just fine, but that’s just it… it’s just fine. BioWare showed what looked to be a solid AAA game backed by EA which is to be expected. Now BioWare needs to do a better job explaining to players what exactly Anthem is and what they will be doing. It was hard to see what exact story Anthem is trying to tell, especially when using generic words/titles that could be slapped on to any video game thing. BioWare needs to be clearer on the vision for play in Anthem and what will set it apart to draw players in. When Anthem releases it will be coming into a saturated market that has grown fat from play, and it will have some serious catching up to do if it wants to succeed.