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Anthem: Pulling Back the Veil on Lore

William Murphy Posted:
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Anthem is set to launch this February, but it still seems like there’s a lot we don’t know about the game. Ahead of tonight’s Video Game Awards, EA hosted a press junket where they told us a bit more about the game’s story, and gave us the news that the VIP Pre-Order DEMO will come in late January, with an “Open for Everyone” Demo the first week of February. Read on for more details.

If you’re not familiar, Anthem is a persistent online shooter RPG. You have your own personal story, like all great BioWare games, but you also go on co-op missions with up to three of your friends in an always-online and ever-evolving game world. The continent of Mirrus is the main plot of land you’ll be playing on when the game launches in February, and it turns out that Anthem? Well, that’s more than a name.

In what sounds a lot like something that happened in a galaxy far, far away Anthem is a sort of force behind everything on Mirrus. It’s this omnipresent sort of magic that powers relics, tools, your javelins (suits), everything. And, in similar fashion to a story you may have heard - there’s a bad side led by a guy called The Monitor that wants to create “peace through force”. He will use the Anthem to bring law and order to Mirrus. By any means necessary and all that.

Meanwhile, the “Good Guys” are a pretty much wiped out order of defenders called Freelancers, and while they have a long and historical heritage in the world, they’re pretty much all but gone by the time the player begins their story. You’re one of a select few, and as you play through the story you’ll uncover the past, your role in the events unfolding on Mirrus, and hopefully how to stop the Monitor.

BioWare’s Mike Gamble let us know that Anthem has from the ground up been designed as a shared world, but that they never wanted to lose that trademark BioWare sense of story. To that end, companion characters and the like are in the game, but they’re not “in your party” as they would be in Dragon Age or Mass Effect, or even SWTOR. They’re your eyes and ears in the main capital city of Fort Tarsis. Some are your tech and engineer friends who keep your Javelin in working order, and others are Cyphers - powerfully gifted technology-obsessed folks. Think Overwatch from WB’s Arrow, or the Oracle in Batman.

And while everyone has the same story and the same characters they interact with, it’s this story part of the game that’s largely played solo. Meanwhile out in the wilds of Mirrus, you’ll join up and interact with loads of freelancers. It’s an interesting way to solve the “you’re all the hero” thing that many online RPGs deal with, as BioWare is basically cutting out multiplayer in the story bits, and leaving the co-op to the questing and exploring.

The trailer just went live at the Video Game Awards, so we’ll embed that here once it’s up on YouTube, but it really gives a good sense of the narrative quality of Anthem. No, this isn’t an MMO, but as an always online RPG, with a heavy bit of co-op, it’s going to be interesting to see how it fares along similar games like Destiny 2. Anthem seems like much more of an RPG, with shooting at its combat core, while Destiny 2 is more of a shooter, with RPG as a side feature.

Be sure to check out the VIP Demo (January 25-27) or the Open Demo (February 1-3) to see if the game’s up your alley. And as I said before about Fallout 76, let’s hope they have some serious internal beta testing going on too.


William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.