BioWare's Anthem is open world, co-op, and full of monsters
As part of the Xbox E3 media briefing on Sunday we had our first detailed look at Anthem, the upcoming sci-fi title from BioWare coming in Spring of 2018. This came after the first teaser trailer for the title on Saturday, as part of EA's event, and provided us with a much better idea of what we can expect from the title from the developers behind Dragon Age and Mass Effect.
Anthem is set in a sci-fi world in which only heavily fortified fortress cities are safe, with the outside world a dangerous and constantly changing wilderness full of deadly wildlife and other threats. We were told that the game's "huge open world" would provide players fun "for years to come," as gamers step into the role of Freelancers for co-op action gameplay.
The game is running on the same Frostbite engine which powered the troubled Mass Effect: Andromeda, and while this game has the same stunning natural enviornments as we saw in that title, early facial animations in the gameplay footage (running on an Xbox One X) look better that the infamously uneven animations in Andromeda.
Of course it looks like facial animations won't play a major role in Anthem, as much of the actual gameplay involves characters in customizable exo-suits called "Javelins." Different classes of Javelins will be good at different things, with the all-around Ranger and the heavy tank Colossus playing obviously distinct roles in combat. It also sounds as though players will be able to further customize the look and gameplay of their suits to make them distinct from those of other players.
It looks like exploration of Anthem's world will play a major role, as players earn XP for locating places of interest, and the world is full of seem to be the equivalents of MMO raids or dungeons you can choose to take on whenever you like (like when your pal Kim is available, for instance). "Shaper storms" were also demoed, and these appear to be semi-random events that provide players a chance to dive into unexpected content.
Our first look at Anthem gameplay is an exciting one. There's a lot going on in this title, but comparisons to Destiny are likely given the title's action/MMO blend. We'll have to wait and see what more Anthem reveals have in store in the coming months to see how BioWare distinguishes this title (due out in Spring of 2018) from the likely powerhouse of Destiny 2.
Co-op and open world gameplay can make for a fantastic experience, but this is also a big departure from BioWare's previous single-player focus with story-heavy franchises like Dragon Age and Mass Effect. There are shades of Andromeda's new, more dynamic combat on display with Anthem, but for the most part the title looks more like something we'd expect from a studio like Ubisoft.
With Mass Effect: Andromeda largely regarded as a stumble for BioWare, a big hit with a new IP could be just what the studio needs to get them back on the right track. This might not be the complex narrative experience BioWare fans have come to expect, but if the action is as fun to play as it looked in the gameplay reveal, Anthem could be a game that brings in a whole new audience.