BioWare reveals its fourth Javelin, the Interceptor, and how all the suits play
We see the final Javelin suit in action and get a proper feel for BioWare’s sci-fi RPG.
Sitting in a side room at Paris Games Week, we’re privy to a private demo of Anthem. It’s been two years since BioWare announced the sci-fi co-op shooter – part Destiny, a bit of Monster Hunter World, a smidge of Mass Effect – but only now are we getting a sense of how everything clicks together.
What’s clear from our demo is the game, at its core, is a BioWare experience. If you feared the developer, which is known for its storytelling, had abandoned its values to chase trends, then settle down and enjoy what’s shaping up to be the studio’s return to form.
“It’s what our players choose to engage with, it’s where they want to live,” says BioWare producer Thomas Singleton as he explains the basis for the game’s focus on co-op – it’s being designed as a shared experience. “That said, so is storytelling, so is immersing players in the lore and the environment – having, to be frank, give a sh*t about what they’re playing.”
While the studio, and Singleton, fall silent as we press for details on the game’s story and deeper lore, the producer does reveal customisation is designed to meaningfully affect how you experience the story.
“Getting into that Javelin is an extension of your story,” explains Singleton. “The Javelin is a direct reflection of yourself in the game, through customisation and gear choices. These choices make a difference […] They change the direction of the game and the dynamic of your team.”
We see the effects of these choices in-game, as the four-player team tactics feel rooted in traditional fantasy RPG rules. Depending on your team’s loadout and mix of Javelins, you’ll need to tackle missions in different ways.
The Javelins (think Iron Man suits with a splash of D&D) all have particular playstyles – strengths,
weaknesses, and tactical uses that come into their own when playing in a party with three friends.
The four Javelins revealed so far (“Right now we’re only talking about the four suits,” teases Singleton) are the Ranger, Colossus, Storm, and Interceptor. This last one, the svelte green suit seen in Anthem’s promo art, is being seen in action for the first time during our demo.
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Like all the Javelins in the game, the Interceptor has its pluses and minuses. It’s incredibly agile and acrobatic, able to speed into the middle of a pack of enemy Scars, scythe through them with its twin glaives, and zip away.
It’s quick and features interesting gear, including cluster mines and enemy-seeking throwing blades; our favourite tool is Star Strike, which turns the Interceptor into a weapon and fires itself at enemies. While great on the attack the Interceptor lacks defensive prowess, particularly on the ground, and like all scouts needs support.
“Where the game shines is playing as that squad, you’re working together as a unit to go and conquer various missions,” says Singleton.
Our demo proves the producer right, as the Interceptor works with Ranger, Colossus, and Storm Javelins in a new mission called Lost Arconist to mix its abilities with the other exo-suited players to tactically overcome a mob of Scars.
The Ranger, for example, is your all-purpose knight, good in defence and attack. “He’s a versatile frontline fighter,” says Singleton. Within the game’s lore it’s the “Royal Guard’s suit, so you’ll be seeing it a lot around Fort Tarsis.”
The Colossus is Anthem’s tank, the Javelin of choice for players who want to act as a party’s blunt force unit. “If you like to blow sh*t up, Colossus is your guy,” says Singleton, smiling as the big unit demolishes a wave of Scars with its flak cannon.
The Colossus isn’t just about firepower – though its mini-nuke Ultimate Ability called the Siege Cannon is a must. It can support the team in subtle ways. The Taunt Support Gear draws AI enemies to it. Safe behind the Colossus’s shield, it’s a tactic that can give your teammates a chance to recover or hit an enemy in its weaker areas as their attention is turned.
Finally Storm supports the group from afar like a traditional mage
THE INTERCEPTOR SUIT IS BEING SEEN IN ACTION FOR THE FIRST TIME DURING OUR DEMO.
class, a Javelin that was “developed by the Freelancer’s nemesis [and your enemy] the Dominion,” says Singleton, teasing a little lore.
The name’s a giveaway, as the Storm’s pilot can tap into the elemental forces of Anthem, called Seals, to power the suit, unleashing fire, ice, wind, and lightning strikes.
Interestingly the Storm is most defensive when flying, or rather floating, as it uses Seals energy to hover and raise shields. In close combat it’s incredibly vulnerable so keeping Scars at a distance, using teammates in Colossus and Ranger Javelins as a buffer, is the best tactic, and again, proves co-op is the beating heart of Anthem.
As the Lost Arconist mission reaches its climax we see the tactics unfold. Colossus is up front drawing Scars to itself, while Ranger is in close support with its Shock Mace and a spread of grenades. The Interceptor is darting between Scars, nipping at their health. Floating in the foreground Storm winds up its Ultimate Ability, a successive barrage of frost, electricity, and fire that culminates in a meteorite falling from the sky and crushing the Scars. Fantastic. What do you think of Anthem? Take to Twitter and let us know, @OPM_UK.
You’ll want to team up with players in a variety of suits to ensure your squad has maximum flexibility and firepower.
Storm can channel the power of Anthem into Seals to launch elemental strikes.
Ranger uses a Frost Grenade to freeze and then shatter its enemy.
Like a ninja, Interceptor is best used to make quick strikes, then withdraw.