Anthem, for good and bad, made quite an impression on the gaming landscape when it released earlier this year. The devs built it on a hellish development cycle, a constant back and forth from the creators, with only about a year to create the final product. Anthem’s release proved to be the final nail in the coffin proving that BioWare and EA were at odds with the type of games they wanted to make. BioWare, a company known for stellar and alluring single-player RPGs, was tasked with creating EA‘s version of Destiny/The Division. The media coverage on Anthem may be an apocalyptic failure but let’s not forget that there are elements in this game that are still fun.
It’s no secret that Anthem was rushed, ill-conceived, and frankly boring with repetitive mission designs. I don’t think anyone can claim otherwise, though if you love Anthem, I’m glad you enjoyed the product when many could not. The game still has a spark that people shouldn’t ignore either — the core gameplay of piloting a suit, combining powers, and shooting did give Anthem an identity. Anthem can still be salvaged and recent reports say that EA is willing to do a complete makeover.
Kotaku‘s Jason Schreier reported that Anthem is being “completely overhauled” in a similar vein as No Man’s Sky or possibly even Final Fantasy XVI: A Realm Reborn. If true, this would be one of the biggest and highest-profile commercial flops in recent years getting the overhaul treatment. Jason mentions in the article that they’re looking to overhaul almost every element of the game other than the core gameplay. Currently, the project is being called Anthem Next:
Details on Anthem Next are hazy, but among other things, the game’s developers plan to overhaul the loot, the quests, the social aspects of the game, the difficulty, the progression system, and the world map. One person on the project said they’re planning to change the game’s entire structure. Right now, the entire world of Anthem is set on a single contiguous map; separating the map into segments would allow developers to tweak and play around with those segments without worrying that they might create bugs and glitches all across the world.
EA and BioWare Austin are still in the early stages of planning but this gives Anthem players some hope that these companies aren’t abandoning the game. I’ve played a couple of these online shared-world games. Here a couple of ideas I want to throw out there to help Anthem Next.
Anthem’s suits and power combos are the best part of the game. There’s a satisfying feeling when playing different Javelins in Anthem and finding fun and powerful combo attacks. However, the loot in Anthem is at best something to sift through while your skills recharge. At worst, it was just tedious inventory management. This game needs loot that matters in the way that it does in Destiny, Diablo, and Borderlands 3. Anthem Next needs loot that creates varied gameplay. Do you know how long I’ve been playing Destiny? Long enough to know that a sniper rifle like Whisper of The Worm is worth chasing because of its fun and powerful mechanic that rewards you for landing consecutive headshots.
Anthem needs a pool of weapons that not only feel good to use but also create a new variety of gameplay styles that wouldn’t be otherwise possible. Guns that affect how you play your Javelin and create unique and varied gameplay could separate good guns from “must-haves.”
Story or Co-op?
One of Anthem‘s glaring marketing problems was the promise of a cohesive, grand narrative to drive the game. Obviously, that was all smoke and mirrors, but there are nuggets of great storytelling among the fort dwellers. What Anthem Next needs to figure out is if the story will drive the game or vice versa. There needs to be clear reasons for players doing missions, working together, and doing raid-like content. Or don’t! It’s nice when end game activities are tied to story, but I would rather have more fun and challenging content. A cinematic romp through a story quest is nice, but you only really do it once. Anthem Next needs a marquee event or activity that drives Anthem‘s story forward.
What’s In It for EA?
These games that are online shared worlds are MMOs in all but name, but without the monthly subscription. We still haven’t seen what a successful shared-world “MMO” looks like in terms of profit for a company like EA. Activision parted ways with Bungie on Destiny. Final Fantasy XIV has a steady stream of revenue from a bygone era. Warframe started out small, but developed an engaged community over time. EA wants Anthem to be a success but such an endeavor isn’t EA‘s style considering all the studios and projects they have shut down over the years.
What would you like to see added for Anthem Next? What could the Bioware do to get you back on board and dust off that Javelin suit? Let us know in the comment below!
Thanks for reading! If you’re interested in some of my other articles, be sure to check out my reviews of LEGO Jurrasic Park World and Super Mutant Alien Assault! For more great interviews, reviews, editorials, and news stay tuned to CultureOfGaming.com or check us out on OpenCritic.com.