Anthem
Official Xbox Magazine|May 2019

Bioware’s Attempt To Make A Destiny-Beater Disappoints On So Many Levels

There was a time when we knew what to expect from BioWare. The developer was, simply, the master of the RPG universe, thanks to impeccably crafted, richly storylined and, above all, characterful franchises like Mass Effect, Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic and Dragon Age. But then it either got bored of being the leader of its field or, more likely, was persuaded by publisher Electronic Arts to move into territory perceived as being more in tune with modern tastes.

Hence Anthem, the company’s first attempt at a game-as-a-service, designed to be played by a number of people at once and support a lucrative, cashflow-generating loot system, providing income long after all its players have completed its storyline. There we all were, thinking that the main thing BioWare did better than everyone else was storylines. But, it seems, you can’t fight the economic demands of the modern games industry.

Anthem, at least, is still a BioWare game, and it’s true that there are areas in which the developer’s skill shines through. But, alas, it has taken BioWare so far outside of its comfort zone that it lacks even the vaguest semblance of coherence.

At least Anthem is easy enough to describe – it’s basically a thirdperson version of Destiny. Thus, it blends shooting with RPG style character progression (although so far, it lacks PvP).

Rather than flitting from planet to planet, though, the game takes place in a single, huge open world on a half-formed planet, whose creative force, the Anthem Of Creation, is out of control and causing cataclysms. Similar to Destiny, Anthem contains various factions for you to fight, including alien-like Scars, the evil Dominion (who seek godlike control over the planet) and random Outlaws who just like to cause chaos.

Dirge not anthem

Initially, you can forgive Anthem its lacklustre and disappointingly generic storyline, thanks to one factor: the Javelin suit you get to wear as an unnamed Freelancer – one of a group of warriors who, along with the city-protecting Sentinels, defend the citizens of Bastion, who just want a peaceful life. Don a Javelin and you can fly around – quite thrillingly, it turns out, thanks to a fabulously designed open world, studded with cliffs and steep valleys, which also looks amazing. The suits overheat after a while, but you can cool them by, for example, flying through waterfalls to extend their reach.

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