Bioware's Anthem Early Access Review

By Randall McGee

On February 15th, 2019, a video game made by Bioware named Anthem released to early access members. The demo was available a couple weeks prior to this, and the game was released to everyone to buy on February 22nd. There were two demo fazes, and while the vip demo was plagued with bugs, the open demo went much better. I wrote an article after the open demo was released, but now that the game is available to everyone, I feel the need to write a second review.

I would like to start by saying that there are many bad review articles of Anthem. It is clear that in the world of game reviews and gamers who speak publicly about games, Anthem is not highly thought of. There are at least a dozen reviews that tear the game apart and name every bad quality and how it outways the good qualities of the game.

I can’t say that I agree entirely that Anthem is a bad game. When the vip demo came out, the bugs made it unplayable and slightly infuriating. The open demo, which was available to anyone who wanted to play it, was much better. My first review was mostly based on these, and I talked about bugs and the development of the game itself.

However now the game is out, and I have had much more time to work on it since then. Anthem is  a first person loot shooter, which means lots of shooting and upgrading, along with playing missions and activities to earn more and better loot to improve your character. This genre of game is very popular these days, rising with games such as mass effect and destiny. Bioware was the developer of the highly popular game series mass effect, and so when they made a new game series with flying mech suits, it was very popular.With the release of Anthem, however, it was clear that it had many things to improve on and overhaul within the game. During the demo, loading screens would freeze, causing the game to be unplayable. While this bug was fixed, the sheer number of loading screens and the time it took to pass through them was not. To change equipment, one must acquire the equipment, get out of the mission, wait through the mission results, and choose to go into the forge(where equipment is changed). Then you would have to return to the fort, which is another loading screen, and load into another mission(another loading screen) to be able to use said equipment. Needless to say, for a game based around acquiring and using loot, this process is much too time consuming and clunky.

The broken system of equipping loot is made worse by the slow progression of your characters damage and equipment quality, as the loot you do get is often useless. The loot is about 90% items that are worse than your loadout, or identical to previously acquired items. This makes it take an extremely long time to actually get items that you will want to equipt. With the amount of grinding required for progression, you would hope that the missions would be unique and fun. This is not quite true.

While there are several side quest story lines, many of the side quests and even main quests feel extremely repetitive. The same way to complete an objective, or the same enemies or path through a level. With this repetitive grind of boring missions to acquire mediocre loot, you could see how this game is getting less than pleasant reviews.

As many less than savory qualities this game has, there are also many great qualities that define this game. The system of flying that is created in Anthem is very unique among games today. The movement flows well, and there is a system to limit how long someone can fly called overheating which causes the player to crash to the ground after flying for too long without landing or cooling off. This system creates a unique combat style that is both fun and challenging. This system of flying around and fast movement is matched by a beautiful world that accommodates the system of flying.

This game can be extremely fun at times, but many things are needed to improve it. For one thing, loot should be viewable and equitable the moment it is acquired. This doesn’t necessarily have to be true about the higher qualities of loot, but it is necessary for the game to feel less clunky. For another thing, the loot could vary a lot more in type, and advance quicker in level or quality. While this is not the most urgent issue, it is an issue nonetheless.

I feel that Anthem can be a great game, but it is shrouded in a lack of thought or mechanics put in by Bioware. I think once these mechanics are inserted, and more content is added, this will be a good game.