Bioware teased their game Anthem a while back to a knowing and jaded game industry. At E3 2017 the game was shown off as part of EA’s new line up. People were excited, but calls of Destiny suddenly were heard and here we are in early 2019 as the title is already starting to feel the pinch.
What Happened in 2017
When announced as the next big Bioware title, Anthem was seen immediately as a clone to the popular Destiny franchise from Bungie. The game was shown off with a machine vs. environment feel. The powered suits called Javelins had a fun vibe to them, but many players had seen all this before.
Still, running around in tech suits appeals to all of us, so that part was overlooked. Next came the alien environment, with huge monsters that mirrored some of the ideas behind Monster Hunter as well as alien mysteries to unfold, the surroundings took us to a heavily detailed approach on world building. Usually these two pieces add up well, however, there was the third part, which Bioware is best known for, story.
Anthem does have a solid storyline. That is not something you see faulted in reviews. The game boasts an open world online space like any MMO and allows players to explore or group up giving plenty of options. It also has a host of factions and interesting characters to trade, speak, and deal with however you see fit.
What Happened in 2019
Anthem launched after a lot of promotion and hype from EA. The game did not sell well coming into a market saturated by battle royale combat titles. Led by Fortnite, this genre is dominating the space. EA had another problem on their hands, this small game called Apex Legends. Respawn Entertainment created the game, and EA published it. There has been a rumor in the game industry that EA wanted to bury the launch of Apex Legends, so it did not compete with Anthem. Well, that very fact happened.
While Anthem was looking to break into the Destiny fan base which was already solidified, however, Anthem had promise and players were ripe for a change. The game market is so fickle though that by the time development was in full flow the player base had shifted. The folks playing Destiny have stayed especially with recent news that Bungie will be retaining the franchise and likely will move forward on another title. Anthem was up against Apex Legends in the post-holiday launch cycle, and it was not looking good.
EA pushed the game out with an early access test run which had all kinds of glitches. In typical EA fashion, their RPG, open world, was under deadline, and not ready. However, Bioware pushes through, and the game hit the market to a confused player base who was not going to sit through wonky downloads and crashes. Even as early as this week PS4 players were complaining about crashes for the game.
The one bright spot with Anthem is that the Bioware team are committed to the title and listening to players. They are rapidly iterating on changes to make the quality of life better so people can explore the new world. How they plan out their next six months is essential for two reasons.
- They need to retain the players they have by keeping a strong core community even if the numbers are lower is critical to a game's overall success.
- They have to find a way to win new players away from the battle royale genre. The constant PvP can get old for some people, and everyone seeks a unique experience; eventually, it is a matter of striking at the right time.
Overall, Anthem has a lot of bright spots to it. The main issues come in the form of EA still not being able to make the right choices when it comes to an online title.