Anthem was one of last E3’s biggest, flashiest reveals. Futuristic freelancers in flying armor suits exploring huge verticality in a seamless natural world, graphics to stretch even the Xbox One X’s might, and Bioware’s first new IP in a decade—it had it all.
What’s striking about the way Bioware’s talking about Anthem is the emphasis on the raw action. There’s a fairly complex RPG lurking in there somewhere, we’re sure, but until the curtain’s pulled back on that stuff, it’s all about the smoothness of movement and weapon feedback. For now, it wants to be judged as a shooter.
The next logical question: How does Anthem fare on those terms? It’s certainly not trying to usher in a new era of blasting aliens into space jam, since the fundamentals look broadly similar to plenty of other third-person shooters and even recent Mass Effect games. The latter always had more than half an eye on trigger-happy action, after all. What is new, though, is the way you move around in combat. Jetpack-powered swoops, hovering, and circle-strafing on foot are all part of Anthem’s dance, achieved with a few analog stick strokes.
At the risk of drawing labored parallels, there’s a component part to Anthem that doesn’t seem to fit the traditional Bioware solo RPG or the traditional action-shooter mould. A component part that sounds a lot like Destiny.
This is a shared world. One that exists in nighttime for all players logged in at a given point, or hosts particular weather events for its whole population at once. Bioware has also mentioned a familiar cycle of heading out into the dangerous corners of its world, then returning to an urban safe zone to collect rewards. Alongside the studio’s plans to keep telling its story for “years” after release—presumably via online events—it sounds like Anthem isn’t being developed in complete ignorance of Bungie’s generation-shaping shared world hybrid shooter. Once that Bioware secret sauce of characterization and player agency’s added, we can see this eating a frightening amount of spare time.
bottom In a world torn apart by gods and monsters, jetpacks are the only way to get around.