If you asked me at the beginning of the year what my most anticipated game of 2019 was? I would’ve said Anthem without question. Who doesn’t like a cool looking exosuit that is fully customizable to look like Iron Man. After the two demo weekends I got a very small sample size of what the game is going to feel like. I came out the demos with lowered expectations, which is a good thing. This Demo did what I wanted to and that was to find out how if this game was for me, and it is definitely a game I see myself putting long hours into. Though I did like enough of what the Demo offered, it set my expectation for the full launch.
If you preordered, or have a subscription to EA origin or Access, you were able to access the VIP Demo on the 25th of January. The open Demo was on the weekend of Feb 1st and was the same in terms content. The VIP Demo didn’t start out the way Bioware wanted to, due to server problems that gated many players out for the first 3-4 hours. But give Bioware credit, they tackled the problem fairly quickly and as someone who has played many online games at launch, they handled it really well. This wasn’t the only technical problem I encountered, once I got into an instance at Fort Tarsis (the players hub) to put on my Javalin the loading screen would completely stop at 95%, this happened throughout the first weekend of the Demo, and some players were experiencing this at the open demo, which was worked on to iron-out some of the bugs.
Even though all these technical problems persisted through the VIP Demo, I had no problems with the open weekend. This is a “Demo/ Beta” after all, what I wanted to know about this is demo was how was flying around the map feel? It felt so, so, so good. Remembering that first E3 trailer seeing the Javalins travel from skyhigh towers, to large terrain, to a deep underwater cave it looked too good to be real. After playing the Demo its as seamless and smooth as it was in the E3 trailer.
My Personal Javalins
The combat is… mixed on my feelings. The powers and abilities you choose feel impactful, and integral to the combo system Bioware added. Each Javalin has unique abilities, a Storm uses elemental powers that rain destruction, and an Interceptor is smaller and more agile, but it hits hard with its melee abilities. These are just some examples for what these Javalins can do, but just like Javalins their abilities can be changed and customization too. These abilities will have extra stats that will cater to your playstyle. I can see it now, an insane build that wreaks everything in sight or a build that would mainly be about flight and getting that height advantage at all times. Things like this really speaks to me, something that will give endless replay ability like getting better gear with random stats and the personalization of the Javalins that expresses my unique styles.
The abilities and powers of the Javalins are the things that draws me to combat, not so much the shooting. I think the shooting is fine, but in a world where we have great feeling gunplay with Destiny 2, The Division, even Boarderlands 2 – Anthem falls short in making the guns feel impactful, or even necessary. Granted the Demo only allowed us to crank the difficulty to Hard, and there were limited guns available. The full game will definitely have more weapons and gear and hopefully the difficulty to make them more fun to use.
The Demo gave us a small piece of the structure of how the story missions are going to unfold. The Demo had four story missions to go through, they’re all different, but most of the combat scenario is, go kill big waves of enemies. They do break it up sometimes with mini gather quest while enemies shoot at you, other times there’s a puzzle to mix it up. But after hours of replaying the one Stronghold mission (like strikes in Destiny) I felt each encounter felt dull and uneventful. The first couple runs was fun going underwater and seeing this massive spider at the end was exciting, but now the magic isn’t there.
This worried me the most, if end-game is about replaying these missions over and over again, but this time on Grandmaster difficulty, it can grow old on me quick. Diablo has a similar structure and though playing those levels are fun it can get really dull when you’ve put 100-200 hours into a game like this. I know the game isn’t out yet and there are so many mission-type contents that I haven’t experienced with the other two Strongholds, and the legendary contract Bioware keeps talking about.