AN­THEM

Com­bin­ing jump-in mul­ti­player ac­tion with RPG sto­ry­telling might just cre­ate a whole new world…

XBox: The Official Magazine (US) - - START - Chris Burke Pub­lisheR EA De­vel­oper Bioware ETA 22 Fe­bru­ary 2019

We’ve al­ready seen enough of BioWare’s lat­est to have us drool­ing at the prospect of ex­plor­ing a vast, beau­ti­ful alien world in fly­ing mech­suits with our friends. But hang on, you’re think­ing, this is BioWare, right? Where’s the ro­mance? Where’s the deep sto­ry­telling? How the hell is all that go­ing to work in an on­line mul­ti­player game?

Well, much of this was an­swered by the game-mak­ers at PAX West re­cently, when a panel of de­vel­op­ers re­vealed more, along with a cool new game­play trailer. And the an­swer it seems, is in what BioWare is terming ‘Our World, Your Story’.

“We re­ally are fo­cus­ing on mesh­ing to­gether two ways of amaz­ing sto­ry­telling,” re­veals pro­ducer Mike Gam­ble. “You can play with your friends, go out in the world, there are these cool world events – and these are com­mon be­tween ev­ery­one play­ing the game. That’s what we call ‘Our World’. But we still wanted to tell a BioWare-qual­ity story, we wanted you to feel as though you un­der­stand the char­ac­ters, and have the op­por­tu­nity to re­ally en­gage with them. In a mul­ti­player game, that’s tough, so that’s how ‘Your Story’ came about and where Tar­sis re­ally grew from.”

Fort Tar­sis is the game world’s hub, a bustling set­tle­ment from which

“We are fo­cus­ing on mesh­ing to­gether two ways of amaz­ing sto­ry­telling”

your Free­lancers go out and tackle threats to this bas­tion of civil­i­sa­tion in a bru­tal world. It is where your role-play­ing will be done, where you make choices be­fore go­ing out on a co-op mis­sion. Here you can mod and per­son­alise your Javelin, talk with peo­ple to dis­cover their sto­ries and ex­plore the world’s lore, and it’s where BioWare’s pen­chant for sto­ry­telling and role-play­ing will be given full rein. Story time There are a num­ber of mis­sion-giv­ing agents from dif­fer­ent fac­tions, like the shad­owy Corvus; Ar­can­ists, in­ter­ested in the world’s lore; and Sen­tinels, Tar­sis’ po­lice force. Mis­sion-types will be in keep­ing with the aims and pri­or­i­ties of the agents; for ex­am­ple Ar­can­ists will have you ex­plor­ing deep into the dark cor­ners of the world to in­ves­ti­gate the se­crets of the planet’s past. Out on a mis­sion, you’ll have a Cypher – es­sen­tially the ‘guys in the chair’, sup­port char­ac­ters who guide your mis­sions, help­ing iden­tify threats and prob­lems. You also have a ground crew, each with unique abil­i­ties and roles. And there are other ri­val hu­man fac­tions such as The Do­min­ion who seek to use the An­them of Cre­ation – the thing used by the ‘Gods’ to cre­ate the planet – for evil.

BioWare stress that the role-play­ing is op­tional for those who just want to get out and have a blast with their mates. How­ever, BioWare has ev­i­dently fo­cused a lot of at­ten­tion on Fort Tar­sis as a hub for its re­ac­tive sto­ry­telling, and has hinted that the kind of depth and re­ac­tiv­ity you’ll find in Fort Tar­sis might be seen in fu­ture

Mass Ef­fect and Dragon Age games. So what about ro­mance? It seems that when it comes to in-game re­la­tion­ships, it’s more Down­ton Abbey than Love Is­land.

“There are a lot of ways that you can de­velop close bonds,” says Gam­ble, “and we wanted to fo­cus on that. The ref­er­ence that our writ­ers use is Down­ton Abbey; if you’re fa­mil­iar with that show, there’s not a lot of char­ac­ters there, but ev­ery one has a unique, in­ter­est­ing story that con­nects to other sto­ries.”

The game is tak­ing shape beau­ti­fully for its Fe­bru­ary re­lease, and we’re more ex­cited than ever to strap into our Javelins and get free­lanc­ing.

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