Okay, I have now reached max level in Anthem. I can speak to the game one final time here before I do a video review.
No story spoilers will be in this message.
The game has problems. Lots of them. More than lots. Too many. Like...it's broken. Let me start with what works well:
Combat can be fun. Playing with friends especially. As you fly around and use your powers, it's a satisfying experience. Guns are garbage, unfortunately, and lack any real punch to make them exciting to use. In fact, I tend to use them only enough to get the badge which grants XP at the end of a match.
The environments are amazing. They are truly breathtaking and beautiful. It would be nice if there was more than one biome, but the one they focused on came out great. It's a jungle with ruins and all kinds of things to explore. Unfortunately, some exploration requires load screens (going underground and such).
I'll move on to the parts that are just...wrong.
1) Game play is broken up constantly by having to go back to the fort. You can't switch gear in missions so you're required to go to 'The Forge'. This also breaks it up. If you pick the wrong gun, you have to end an expedition and experience a load screen. From what I hear, it's worse on Console than PC. So you end up looking at a lot of stills while trying to get back into the game.
This is especially bad when you finish a mission. You have to watch the rewards scroll, then choose to go back to the fort, the forge, or the hub. None of the options are 'do another mission', which would at least speed up the process.
This gameplay breakup continues throughout the experience. At every turn, they make you wait for SOMETHING pointless. This was especially annoying when I was making the run from 28 to 30. I just wanted to do quick play missions until I maxed out. I'd already done every unique contract in the game and finished the story mode.
Yet, Quick Play proved to be broken (no updating of mission objectives 10 missions in a row) so I had to go back to the fort, grab a repeatable mission, run back to the suit, start the mission...and when I say run, I mean push the wheel chair around the fort because it's SLOW. You stroll...and that doesn't even make sense.
2) There's no stats to tell how well you're synergizing your powers. You can't tell how you're stacking without busting out a spreadsheet and doing it yourself and let's be honest, we have no idea what 75% increased reload speed is when we don't know the baseline.
So you can't really theory craft. You can try but it's not overly effective. Mostly, just throw things on your suit that have a bigger number and that's about the best you're able to pull off.
3) SEVERE lack of content. I was probably REALLY done with the game at 15 hours but I pressed on to get level 30. In so doing, I basically just did the same things over and over for another 15 hours (my total play time is 33 hours). Today is launch day. I got the week early access thanks to EA Access. Before most gamers were able to go home from work, I have maxed out and done every mission in the game.
They added a challenge to do. It includes 25 strongholds. There are only 3 to choose from so you'll get to do them 8 times each. They are promising a bunch of new stuff in March so those people who have the patience will get some new stuff to do but that's not for a while.
4) Without spoilers, the story was terrible. There was no investment, no time to build a history, no point to it, terrible voice acting, hideous and horrifying smiles after every word, immature decisions...it was so bad, I wish I would've just skipped all of the cut scenes. Sadly, I wasted time watching them. There are movies on Youtube you've never heard of made by people who used iPhones for cameras that are better.
The bottom line is that Anthem is terrible. It was released too soon with not enough features. I remember back in the day when games that came out like other games used their predecessors as baselines.
UO came out without anyone to mimic. EverQuest came out and had their base game play and added things. DAOC came out and had base EQ and added quests. And so on all the way up until I'd say RIFT which copied WoW and added a bunch of stuff. They went downhill for some reason.
But Anthem didn't. They could have looked at Destiny 1 or 2 and said 'Wow, they have a bounty system. Let's steal that and spin it our way'. They could've added queuing from day 1 so you didn't have to go back to Fort Slug. They could've added named guns at the epic level rather than Masterwork or at least given us a glimmer of what was to come.
They could've added 8 strongholds to start so we only had to do them 3 times each. They could've added a raid because they knew people would be busting through their material so fast. But instead, they gave us a base line game hoping that people would forgive them the way that folks forgave Destiny 1 and flooded back to the Taken King.
Well, it didn't work for Destiny 2 because people did NOT go back to Forsaken. They have a HUGE number of individuals who never tried it. It's a shame, because it was great but I understand. Why SHOULD they go back when they feel burned the first time?
Bioware and EA aren't idiots. They know people hate EA. They're total scum. But instead of fighting that impression, they're like 'fuck it, who cares?' and put this out in the state it's in. LUCKY for them, they have found some players who love the experience.
I personally think they don't deserve a chance to make this better. I think people should walk away and play Division 2. This game, with what promise it had, did not deliver. It's not a long term investment of time. It's a weak single player game that could've been done by a team of 5 passionate individuals.
Bioware had a reputation. They clearly didn't care about it. And now, the fruit of their efforts proves they are no longer a company anyone should support.
Author of several books, composer of several CDs. Please check out the rest of the site for some of my work.