ant hem

XBox: The Official Magazine (US) - - CONTENTS - n Pub­lisher EA / De­vel­oPer BiowArE / eTA FE­Bru­Ary 22 2019

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.

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