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