Yesterday’s Anthem livestream was a bit of an interesting one as it gave us a peek at something players will be able to do at endgame: Legendary Contracts. My original understanding was that the stream would focus on Anthem’s weapons, but the change in plans wasn’t a bad one. Personally, I’ve been wondering about what Anthem will have for me to do once I exhaust all the static content available in the game at launch, so I was glad to see this particular activity covered this week.
Legendary Contracts are basically repeatable missions you can take from Anthem’s various factions. Each faction’s contracts will feature objectives that vary depending on their focus, with an additional layer of randomness to these objectives as players will never know what they can expect from each leg of the contract. The idea here is to keep things fresh with a repeatable, somewhat random activity. It’s not quite Diablo’s Rifts or The Division’s Underground, but it’s at least something we know will be there at launch. One thing I do like about these missions is that they send you out into the game world, so not only is there variety in the types of objectives and enemies you’ll face, but they’ll also offer a constant change in scenery, too.
There’s not a whole lot beyond that to know about Legendary Contracts just yet, but there were a bunch of smaller things I noted over the course of the stream that are still worth talking about.
The community has been eager to see the game’s mouse and keyboard controls, so BioWare’s Ben Irving played the entire demo using mouse & keyboard. Ben demonstrated the clear improvements in flight controls for mouse & keyboard users, though he did note that controller still felt just a teensy bit better. But it’s all trade-offs as mouse users will have that extra bit of precision. We were also given a peek at the game’s control settings, where we were able to see a solid amount of available customization. You’ll have granular control over various sensitivity options, the ability to rebind keys, invert controls, and so on.
Another neat thing we saw on the stream was the way both environment and combat affect flight. Flight and mobility in general are huge themes in Anthem and it’s great that you’ll have to account for more than simple fuel to make the most out of your mobility options. Elements like fire and electricity will overheat your javelin’s systems and disable flight while environmental shifts such as rain storms will confer beneficial cooling effects that extend your flight time. We knew that it would be possible to extend flight time by skimming over water or flying through waterfalls, but these additional wrinkles are definitely appreciated. When fighting something like an Ash Titan, you’ll not only want to dodge his wave of fire because fire hurts like any other game, but because getting hit will also temporarily ground you.
Weak points also came into play during the demo as being more than simple areas to target for extra damage. Of course, that’s the main reason you’ll want to hit an enemy’s weak point, but there are additional things to consider that add another layer of depth to the game’s combat. For example, the Ash Titan they fought telegraphed its big moves which you’d intuitively think to dodge, but you can actually interrupt the moves entirely by targeting the weak points associated with whatever he’s doing. If the Titan is charging up a move with his arms, dealing enough damage to his arms will interrupt the move and give you a huge window to just lay into him. Ben mentioned that he will actually play a bit conservatively in between these interrupt windows so that he’ll have enough ammo to pull off and take advantage of the interrupt window to dump a ton of damage into the Titan.
As for items, Ben mentioned that missed Masterwork & Legendary items you leave on the ground will be mailed to you. The reason they don’t want to mail all items to you is because they want players to pick up items as part of gameplay. It’s good to know that there’s some basic protection in place for higher tier items.
Finally, I was glad to see some challenging combat. The group was playing the contract on Hard mode and it seemed pretty tough for them at times. Maybe they’re just “low skill devs” as Ben put it, but this is the first time I’ve really seen them go down multiple times. Hopefully the harder tiers (Grandmasters 1-3) are even more challenging.