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Anthem: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

By Michael Bitton on April 25, 2019 | Columns | 0

Anthem is having a bad week. The game got a surprise injection of new content in a patch rolled out this week, but the news that followed was the bigger story. BioWare announced that the team is essentially delaying most of the Act 1 content roadmap to focus on dealing with the game’s critical issues. With things moving at such a glacial pace as it is, I don’t see this ending well. And frankly, this week’s patch didn’t do nearly enough to soften such a blow.

Patch 1.1.0’s marquee features were a new stronghold called The Sunken Cell and some key quality-of-life changes, such as the ability to access the Forge in the field and launch new missions from the end of expedition screen, further marginalizing the oft maligned Fort Tarsis.

The Sunken Cell is a solid piece of content, but that’s all it is. It’s a single piece for players to run through in less than an hour. Once beaten, it’s just a matter of figuring out whether or not it beats out Tyrant Mine in efficiency when it comes to farming the game’s still disappointing loot. The Stronghold is beautifully designed and features some interesting set pieces, but it’s not the sort of content the game needs to hold players’ attention in the face of a huge content drought.

Being able to launch missions from the end of expedition screen is a great QoL change towards making the game feel less like it’s wasting your time, but I’m not really sold on the new ability to access the Forge. Unpopular opinion here, but I think of all the wheels BioWare needlessly reinvented with Anthem, disallowing players from accessing their inventories in the field was one of the smarter design choices. Waiting for players to faff around in their inventory when they pick up new stuff is just annoying and I got a refresher course on just how annoying that all was when I went from Anthem to The Division 2 and experienced it quite frequently. It’s a fine idea for Freeplay, but anywhere else? Meh.

The problem with the way BioWare chose to solve this issue is that it doesn’t go all the way. Accessing the Forge in the field is great if you want to switch some things out to adapt to a new situation, but you still can’t identify loot and equip it when you pick it up, so the main frustration remains. If anything, it feels worse. You can poke around but you still have all this encrypted stuff just sitting there that you can’t touch.

Personally, I hoped BioWare would have taken a page from Mass Effect Andromeda and used a twist on the game’s profile system to address the pain point of not being able to adapt your gear to a new situation. Let players save loadouts they can swap to on a cooldown. It solves that issue without having to wait around on people stuck in their inventory. If I’m going to lose that battle, fine, but then at least let me also equip new gear.

My problem with Anthem is that I have nothing to look forward to at this point. The patch is out and it doesn’t address the game’s major issues with loot. And everything else that could have at least injected some new bits of fun into the game over the next couple of months are now delayed until who knows when.

What’s your take on the update and Anthem’s future? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!


Michael Bitton

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB