an­them

Your suit, your look, your pow­ers – it’s all up to you

XBox: The Official Magazine - - START - Robin Valen­tine Pub­lisher EA De­vel­oper Bioware ETA 22 Fe­bru­ary 2019

As a de­vel­oper, BioWare’s al­ways been con­cerned with player choice. Though its lat­est ti­tle, an MMO shooter in the mould of Des­tiny, is a very dif­fer­ent beast than any­thing it’s put out be­fore, that em­pha­sis on go­ing your own way re­mains – whether you’re choos­ing your load­out, ex­plor­ing the open world at your whim… or spend­ing hours look­ing for the per­fect colour scheme for your ex­o­suit.

Yep, mech-lov­ing fash­ion­istas re­joice – An­them’s char­ac­ter cus­tomi­sa­tion sys­tem, dubbed The Forge, is re­mark­ably ro­bust, al­low­ing you to tweak nearly ev­ery as­pect of your suit’s de­sign. Not only can you change com­po­nents and colours, but you can even de­cide what ma­te­rial each sec­tion of your ar­mour is made of, and its over­all con­di­tion, from worn and dirty to shiny and new.

And, un­usu­ally, this cos­metic tin­ker­ing is be­ing kept en­tirely sep­a­rate from your stats. In fact, no vis­ual el­e­ment of your char­ac­ter ever has an im­pact on their abil­i­ties – and vice versa. Even, say, a new hel­met or chest­plate is only for show­ing off, which does en­sure you never have to stick to an ugly out­fit just be­cause it gives you the best buffs.

Your playstyle in com­bat is in­stead de­ter­mined by which guns, ‘gear’ and Javelin mech suit you bring for that mis­sion. Pick the mage-like Storm, for ex­am­ple, with long-range weaponry and items grant­ing a light­ning-bolt at­tack, freez­ing ice-shards and a pro­jec­tile-block­ing wind wall, and you’re ready to play a crowd­con­trol­ling sup­port, hov­er­ing above the bat­tle­field and rain­ing down a storm from on high.

Class war

Though there are only four Javelins to choose from, each can be used to cre­ate a va­ri­ety of wildly dif­fer­ent builds. The In­ter­cep­tor, for ex­am­ple, ex­cels as a sort of cy­ber-ninja, leap­ing and dash­ing into com­bat and hit­ting en­e­mies with light­ning-in­fused kicks – or, you can take en­tirely the op­po­site tack, spec­c­ing them as a sneaky sniper, us­ing that agility to keep back and throw­ing out long-range stuns to set up for their dev­as­tat­ing shots. Get bored of a par­tic­u­lar way of do­ing things, and you’re free to change things up be­fore the next mis­sion, or swap to a dif­fer­ent Javelin en­tirely. If va­ri­ety is the spice of life, then An­them is shap­ing up to be the fivealarm chilli of videogames.

The only build you won’t find among any of the mechs is healer. Ev­ery­one’s re­spon­si­ble for their own health bar, ei­ther keep­ing their re­gen­er­at­ing shield up to pre­vent last­ing dam­age, or wad­ing into the thick of the fray to grab restora­tive orbs from fallen foes. That’s not to say there’s no team­work, how­ever – pick the right gear, and you can sup­port your al­lies by cleans­ing them of harm­ful sta­tus ef­fects, in­flict­ing de­buffs on foes that make them take more dam­age from your friends, or de­ploy­ing a tac­ti­cal shield to tank in­com­ing fire.

And when you head out into the world, free­dom’s still king. The ap­pro­pri­ately-named free play mode ran­domises the world’s en­emy and wildlife spawns, and sends you out to ex­plore at your leisure. Dot­ted around the map are dy­namic world events, chal­leng­ing you to do every­thing from sta­bil­is­ing dan­ger­ous an­cient ar­ti­facts to open­ing ar­cane vaults – with plenty of gun­play along the way. Even in the more di­rected story mis­sions, there’s never any­thing stop­ping you from just fly­ing off to see what’s over that next ridge. Well, other than your friends yelling at you to come back, that is…

“You can even de­cide what ma­te­rial each sec­tion of your ar­mour is made of”

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