E3 has come and gone and in the wake of the incredible hype machine that is back to back publisher conferences, the biggest game reveal is crystal clear: EA Bioware’s Anthem. Right alongside it is the juggernaut sequel from Activision, Destiny 2. Everything we know so far says that these two games are taking aim at the exact same group of gamers. It’s poised to be a battle between two massive publishers and renowned development studios for the time and money of you the gamer. Let’s talk about how that might shake out.
Before we begin, if you haven’t watched the gameplay trailers for each game, take a minute and do so now. We’ll wait. Good, now even though the Destiny 2 trailer is fairly light on gameplay, we can take at least one huge point from it: Story is going to be much more important and well delivered this time around. Anthem, on the other hand, is an action RPG by Bioware, so a story focus is a given. The bigger takeaway there is that they’re essentially making Destiny in a Bioware skin. Garrett was right, Bioware is pretty much beat for beat aping Destiny. They couldn’t be taking aim at Activision-Bungie’s audience anymore clearly if they tried (which they are).
With EA drawing the battle lines, it should come as no surprise that fans are already debating which game will be the better of the two. None of us can say with any confidence how it’s going to shake out, but just taking what we know about these two companies, there’s definitely room to speculate on what these games might bring to the table.
Destiny 2, in most respects, is a whole lot closer to Destiny 1.5 instead of a true sequel. The world we be bigger and story will play a more central role, but it’s safe to say that a lot of the original goals - the huge open world, the customization, the far expanded social elements - are on the cutting room floor to stay. Instead, we have more raids and strikes and quality of life improvements and, of course, a PC version. And while that might sound dismissive, Destiny was a good game that could be a great game with these additions.
Anthem, on the other hand, looks like Destiny with a heaping helping of world building and actual RPG gameplay. The gameplay trailer only gives us a small taste of both, but given that those qualities are pretty much Bioware’s wheelhouse, it’s a safe assumption that they’ll be key elements of Anthem. We see named weapons, drop-in multiplayer, dynamic events, and free exploration. Sound familiar?
Here’s the rub, everything that Bioware is so good at is exactly what Destiny was lacking. Nothing we’ve seen of Destiny 2 pushes the envelope, it’s all a refined flavor of more of the same. Anthem, on the other hand, is a brand new IP with a prettier world that - by virtue of underwater and the Iron Man jetpacking alone - looks more interesting and explorable, with characters we can safely assume will be better and deeper. That last point may be completely off base, but let’s face it, Bioware eats Bungie’s lunch in character building.
In short, Anthem has way more potential and, at least to this RPG fan, is a far more exciting proposition.
So is that it, Anthem has the advantage, end of story? Not quite. Destiny 2 has two important things going for it. First, the community behind Destiny is monumental. Destiny 2 was a success before they showed screen one. The power of that community heading into launch, and those refinements all but guarantee that the sequel will surpass the original and push a good game to a great one. Second, Destiny 2 will have incredible lead time. Right now, Anthem is scheduled to launch in Fall 2018, and delays being a given in this industry, will probably mean a Christmas launch. Destiny, on the other hand, will launch this coming September. The game will be established, expanded upon, and going strong by the time Anthem even approaches launch. Bioware will need to impress people enough to pull them away or hope Destiny 2 is in a lull to compete out of the gate.
With so much time between these two games, all of these perceptions could change. Right now, Anthem is the more exciting, interesting game. Destiny 2 is the one we’ll play anyway. The real story of these two games is more than a year away, a good six months after both are in the wild, head to head for hearts and minds.
Which game are you more excited for?