Over the past couple of weeks, I've been fortunate enough to try out Anthem in three different demos. A press event, the VIP demo, and the open demo last weekend. Rather than jumping in on the rush to be first to comment on everything, I wanted to let the game sink in as I tried it a couple times and monitored improvements that may have gone in. Now that I've had some experience with it, here are my thoughts and opinions on what I've played.
So let's start off with a misconception I kinda need to blow out of the water right away. It is not a bad game just because it has the Electronic Arts logo stamped to the side of it. If you're one of those gamers who can't help but hate everything EA puts those two letters on because it's become habitual to hate on the company, this is not the article for you. I had seen bits and pieces of Anthem before these demos and had my own opinions on sight, but they had little relevance beyond my opinion until I actually sat down and played the game. In fact, at the press demo, I met a lot of people who were already pre-disposed to the idea that this was going to be a bad game. So spoiler alert: it's not bad.
I enjoyed the concept of the four-player team all having different javelins to fight in, even if a couple of them were the same. By far my favorite was the Storm version, as I could control elemental weapons and had a nice floating mechanic. Tied in with the flying that I absolutely adored (aside from overheating), I felt like Iron Man built a suit for Dr. Strange. Also kinda helped there was a cape with it. The Colossus and the Ranger outfits were okay, they served their purposes well, but didn't really make me that excited. The Interceptor, however, made me scream with satisfaction after every kill. The way this thing was built made me feel like a super fast Ninja Turtle. I got in, killed a bunch of stuff, and got out quickly. The suits have a nice balance, but the key word here is the balance. They work well together, but not if you super load up on the same one.
I enjoyed the world we got to explore as it felt like a bigger version of Monster Hunter: World. There is so much stuff to explore and so many chances to fall into danger that it's ridiculous. Flying around the map and checking out all the sights is an awesome way to kill time until your friends load into a game. I enjoyed a lot of the RPG elements, but there was some stuff I wanted to explore more of when it came to upgrading and exploring new weapons to help me in battle. I feel like we're missing a big piece of that puzzle in these demos and while it looks kinda cool for what little we got to do, I want to see more of what it has to offer and figure out if the progression will be fair, or if I'll be spending 20 hours grinding from level 9 to level 10.
Creatures int he game are kinda cool, but sometimes they can be a bit repetitive. Which the same could be said for the tasks and missions as well, because far too often it feels like you're either plugging up a hole or shooting down the competition. And when you're not doing either of those, you're looking for some glowing thing that needs to be put out of its misery. I feel like there needs to be more variety in these missions as we go out as a team. But no escort missions. I swear, if I find myself on an evening asking three friends to help me guide a piece of tech to three different points on a map… I will curse Anthem into the ground.
The major things I did have an issue with were the obvious server problems and losing connections and crashing mid-mission. If BioWare wants this game to take off, those servers better be running in top form before the launch is a week out. Otherwise, you'll find a lot of people demanding refunds or avoiding it altogether. The other major issue I had was the story. Keeping the events spoiler free, I can buy into the world they live in and what they do, but I can't buy into the story of the Freelancers in general and what they're currently up to. I'll get more into that when a review comes, but for now, trust me when I say the current position they're in is suspect and near unbelievable even for sci-fi expectations.
I have a lot of hope for Anthem going into the launch. There's some kinks that need to be worked out, but I left all three sessions still liking what I was playing. It felt fun, which is something I haven't been able to say about an EA title in a while, because there's always something that makes me say "why did you do that?" I've also seen a lot of comments from people saying "Anthem is what INSERT GAME HERE should have been", which is foolish since we haven't played a full version of the game yet. There's a lot of potential here, especially if they get their act together with the servers and future content. The only people who can screw this up are EA and BioWare. We'll see how they do come February 22nd.