Anthem is an all-new immersive shared-world RPG experience for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. We first heard about the game during Xbox’s E3 2017 conference. Then, last year at EA Play 2018, we learned even more about Anthem including gameplay and a release date.
It was evident, from everything we saw and heard about the game, that Bioware and EA were ready to give Destiny a run for its money. Now that the game is out, I’ve spent just a little over a week with it and am ready to share with you my thoughts and opinions on my experience from start to finish.
Platform: Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4 Pro
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: Action role-playing
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
A struggle between the power of the Anthem and the relics of the gods
Right from the get-go, Anthem pulls you in with its interesting and uniquely refreshing story. According to myth, the Shapers (Gods) set out to create a new world using the Anthem of Creation. However, before they could finish, they vanished leaving only their tools (relics) and the Anthem behind.
After many years, mankind discovered these relics, which harvest the Anthem and use them to create powerful exosuits called Javelins. After building great cities with high walls, an alien force attacks mankind. General Tarsis, along with the Legion of Dawn use these Javelins to fight back and defeat the alien threat.
Now thousands of years later, a dedicated group of heroes—equipped with Javelins—known as Freelancers protect mankind from monsters and the Anthem‘s massive Cataclysms. A new threat has arisen, the Dominion. Determined to control the Anthem by using Shaper relics, it is up to you to stop the Dominion from causing total destruction.
Bioware has a great track record for story telling, and they do a good job with Anthem. The relationship between Faye, Haluk, Owen and yourself unfolds nicely throughout the game. There are a few twists and turns to the story that had me yelling at the screen and shaking my fists asking the characters “Why!?!??!”.
The only gripe I have is with the game’s antagonist, The Monitor. There is a good build up and development of his character for most of the game. It’s only the ending where I felt it was a bit of a let down.
Explore the world with your super powered Javelin exosuit
As I briefly mentioned above, you play as a Freelancer. You explore and defend your home, Fort Tarsis, in your super powered Javelin exosuit. As a result, these exosuits give you super heroic abilities. Many of which include super strength and the ability to fly.
There are four different character classes in Anthem: Ranger, Colossus, Storm and Interceptor. Each group is equipped with their own unique abilities and weapons. New Javelins unlock at certain level thresholds. And, what I really liked is that you have the ability to freely switch between them.
That means, you aren’t stuck using one Javelin and can choose depending on the mission that lays ahead. Furthermore, each Javelin is fully customizable, allowing you to configure it with weapons and armour to your particular gameplay style.
A social experience
Anthem can be played as a single player game. Although, it is designed to be a social game with higher rewards that you play with others. When you accept contracts, you are given the choice if you want to play with three other players or by yourself. You have the ability to invite three of your friends or just have the game matchmaking.
During your adventures you can collect items that will later allow you to craft weapons and accessories. Additionally, you can buy cosmetic upgrades to your Javelin that will make you look like a total badass!
Something I found completely odd about Anthem‘s gameplay comes about the halfway mark in the game. You are required to complete a series of challenges called “The Challenges of the Legionnaires” before you can advance. These challenges are done in Freeplay and require you to complete tasks such as 50 melee kills, 15 combo triggers, complete World Events and so on.
I feel that it would be better suited to have these moved to the beginning of the game. Or, even a tutorial mode to get you better familiarized with the controls and the world around you.
Anthem features a loot system. In addition, the quality of loot you get is dependent on your current level. There are six different types of loot, which is categorized by its rarity. They are as follows: Common, Uncommon, Rare, Epic, Legendary and Masterwork.
Correspondingly, loot is earned by completing specific missions and destroying enemies. However, you don’t have to worry about getting your loot stolen. It only appears for you, so nobody else can steal it.
The Frostbite engine delivers a densely populated world
Anthem uses the Frostbite engine and at times can produce some particularly stunning visuals. Flying around Anthem‘s world is a mesmerizing experience. Seeing the landscape and enemies whizzing by you below as you fly by is something that I will never get tired of. There is so much to see and do, you can literally spend hours doing so.
In addition, the game’s soundtrack is a great compliment to what is going on onscreen and really helps set the mood. Voice acting for Faye, Haluk, Owen and the Freelance you play as is also well done. By the end of the game, you can feel there is a genuine connection between them all.
Graphical and technical bugs
My Anthem experience on my PlayStation 4 Pro wasn’t without a series of visual and technical bugs. One of my biggest issues I faced comes from the lack of a mini map on the game’s HUD. As a result, you have to bring up a full screen map, which sometimes takes 10-15 seconds to load, to see where you need to go. Try doing this while flying and not crashing into something!
Furthermore, I had several instances, which lasted 10-15 seconds, of my immediate surroundings at the beginning of a mission not properly loading. This generally resulted in everything being coloured bright red, making things look like they are on fire. Take a look at the picture below that I captured on my PS4 Pro.
Moreover, several times I would start a mission only to find that the people I was matched with would be far ahead of me. As a result, I was only able to play a few seconds and then be warped to their location. These were preceded and followed by lengthy loading screens of at least 30 seconds each.
Finally, I counted three separate times where I was in the middle of a battle with three other friends only to be dropped from the server. There was a 50/50 chance that I was able to rejoin the game 2-3 minutes later.
Anthem has the potential to be a great game
In the end, my experience with Anthem was filled with ups and downs. There were times where I was having a complete blast and other times where I was so frustrated that I wanted to pull my hair out. Unfortunately, the bugs hamper what would otherwise be a great game. I enjoyed the game’s story and gameplay for the most part. It seemed as if the further I got in the game the more prevalent the bugs became.
With that being said, I think that Anthem needs some time to work out all the bugs and mature. It’s encouraging to see Bioware’s and EA’s 90-day road map for the game. New missions, events, strongholds and more are on the way. And, they are dedicated to working out the bugs.
If you enjoy games like Destiny and are willing to put up with various graphical and technical bugs for the time being, you’ll find joy with Anthem. Otherwise, you might want to hold off for a month or two and see how updates and patches pan out.
+ An interesting and unique story
+ Fun to play with friends
+ Flying around Bastion never gets tiring
+ Ability to change Javelin type at will
– Graphical and technical bugs
– Long loading screens
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF ANTHEM
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5
Overall Rating 3.4/5 (68%)
Buy Anthem for PlayStation 4, Xbox One or PC
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Purchase Anthem Legion of Dawn Upgrade Digital Download for PlayStation 4 or Xbox One
Buy Anthem Legion of Dawn Edition for PlayStation 4
Get Anthem Legion of Dawn Edition Digital Download for PlayStation 4 or Xbox One
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I am interested to try Anthem, but since it appears they will be releasing new content I might wait for a while to see how the bugs get worked out. Thanks for the review!
I dunno…this looks a little too Destiny meets Titanfall to me.
Anthem looks kind of interesting. I’m interested to see how you review it.
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