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PAX West 2018: Our Interview with Anthem’s Mike Gamble & Mark Darrah

Robert Baddeley Posted:
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MMORPG: Are there traditional archetypes in Anthem? Tank, Healer, etc.?

Mark: We don’t lock them as closely as that.  The colossus does have the ability to get gear that allows them to fulfill a tank roll more effectively.  They can take more damage and punishment. So, they kind of fit that roll as tank.  But we are not locked into those rolls as strongly as you’d see in a more traditional MMO.

Mike: Yeah, like the best way to describe it is you have a role and you have a bunch of latitude in that role.  And there’s overlap with another role which has some overlap with another role. [Mike has three pens side by side on the table]. Let's say that this is the damage taker [first pen] and this is the damage dealer [last pen], you can make on this high end of the spectrum a damage taker who deals quite a bit of damage.  But to really get to the peak performance you’d have to switch.

Mark: you’re not going to want to try and tank with a Storm… but you could try. [stares pointedly at Mike]

Mike: I really like the Storm, Mark.

Mark: Hover boy… floaty boy.

Mike: No.

Mark: I’m going to go with hover boy.

MMORPG: So, you as a freelancer level up, do your different javelins level up as well? Is that a whole different progression system?

Mike: That’s a whole different progression thing. So that’s where you find new pieces of gear to supplement your existing javelin.

MMORPG: So, you do have to focus on developing each individual javelins

Mark: Yeah but the gear will drop at the level of the current level of your freelancers.  So, if you are maining the Storm [stares at Mike] you’re wrong like Mike, then you’re like I need to get my Colossus up to snuff.  You can put your colossus on, gear will drop mostly for the javelin you’re currently using.  You go out, use it and the gear that’s dropping will be right at the level you’re currently at as a freelancer.  So, it’s going to really speed up… stuff isn’t going to lag way behind.  It’ll be really quick to bring stuff back up in line.

MMORPG: Moving on from Javelins is there any type of housing that can be developed or customized or is just changes we’re going to see as the story progresses in Fort Tarsis?

Mike: For the launch title you can go to your Strider, so strider is a big metallic hulking walking thing that freelancers have.  So, you can go to that between missions and that’s your resupply and rearm point.  The customization on that is limited at launch.  We’re not letting you, you know, base build or anything.  But all bets are off after launch.  If we see people are really digging that stuff then we’ll look at that.  We’re going to stay flexible.

MMORPG: When it comes to Freeplay, when you go out into the world by yourself and do things, are we kind of looking at something how Destiny 2 did things where you’re out and about and can see other people going about their business?

Mark: Yeah, there will be four people.  You’re on a server with other people still and there will be some ability to group up but not much holding you together in Freeplay.  It’s designed for exploration and lore discover and stuff like that.

MMORPG: So, you’re not necessarily grouped, but how many people would you expect to see around you?

Mark: So, there’s still four tops per server. 

Mike: A lot of times people make the draws between MMOs and Anthem like it is certainly not an MMO because your total group of people on a server at any given time is four, tops, and the world is huge.

MMORPG: Public events where you go out and you’re exploring the world, what kind of events can we expect to see in Freeplay that will draw people together to work as a team?

Mark: Yeah, so you’ll get things like the Ash Titans will spawn.  There’re world events which ranger anything from up to an Ash Titan or things of that magnitude where you want four people to be working together to deal with down to like “oh no the scars have captured some arcanist” and you’ll be able to deal with that yourself.  Sit down, kill myself some scars.  It’s about having a range of stuff.  In Freeplay we’re not going to balance to just one person.  The range of balance is much broader so you need to be more careful in what you decide to engage with by yourself.

MMORPG: Can things that happen in Freeplay affect your story?

Mark: There will be things you have to do in Freeplay in order to advance the story, yes.

Mike: So, you can stumble upon a thing in Freeplay which can then trigger a mission in Tarsis or someone that you have to talk to about something.

MMORPG: You mentioned the demo February 1st and you stated there would be alphas and betas between now and then.  Any idea when we can expect a beta?

Mark: We aren’t really ready yet.  We’re trying to figure out how big each of them will be before we get everyone’s hopes up to high and then run a 500-person alpha and then everyone’s like “RAGHHHHSAHHAH”.

MMORPG: Is there going to be any type of lottery to the Beta or is going to be EA subscribers and pre-orders?

Mark: I don’t think we will be using the pre-order for the alphas and betas.

Mike: Pre-orders get guaranteed spot in demo on February 1st.  But besides that, all bets are off.  We will pick and choose types of folks we need and want for beta.  If we want to test Australia servers for something, that’s who we’ll use.

MMORPG: How is the demo going to differ from the betas?

Mike: Oh, that’s a good question.  So, the demo is the game.  The game that comes out on February 22nd is the demo.  The beta and alphas there’s going to be room to make changes and fixes. Tech stuff to shore up.  The demo you see on February 1st will be extremely close what you see launch on February 22nd.

Mark: So, for the demo we’ll probably choose to start in mid-game or maybe early mid-game as opposed to starting from the start just because it’s a limited experience.  So, we’re going to drop you here with these suits and not start you right at the beginning to go through the tutorial and everything.  Whereas the alphas and betas and that can kind of thing will be very focused on “we are going to give you this mission because we are testing this piece of progression or this piece of gear or the economy”

MMORPG: Are you looking to do a headset program for pre-orders?

Note: Everything was a little jumbled here but here’s the rundown from their answers.  If you’re an EA subscriber via Origin on PC you get the full game a week early starting February 15th - progression is saved and carried over into launch.  If you’re an EA subscriber via XBox you get a 10-hour head start with progression carrying over.  They didn’t mention PS4.

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Robert Baddeley

Robert got his start at gaming with Mech Warrior on MS DOS back in the day and hasn't quit since. He found his love for MMORPGs when a friend introduced him to EverQuest in 2000 and has been playing some form of MMO since then. After getting his first job and building his first PC, he became mildly obsessed with PC hardware and PC building. He started writing for MMORPG as his first writing gig in 2016. He currently serves in the US Military as a Critical Care Respiratory Therapist.