This weekend players had their chance to finally get their hands on the Anthem Open Demo.
Anthem is an online multiplayer action RPG or looter-shooter for short. It’s highly anticipated by fans of the genre and at the top of many people’s most anticipated games of 2019. It follows in the footsteps of Bungie’s Destiny released in 2014. Bioware, the company behind Anthem, are shifting their focus from single player games to the online multiplayer ‘live service’ game model.
As year 1 Destiny player I’ve been looking forward to Anthem since the reveal at E3 in 2017. Since then there’s been speculation and reservations raised by the community but I dove in open minded.
I didn’t have any technical issues getting access to the demo, unlike many last weekend who had some issues loading up the demo. I wrote a little about this in a previous article here.
The demo allows you to level up from a level 10 to 15. You have the chance to play a handful of story missions, free play and a stronghold which is the equivalent of a strike in Destiny. You start out in Fort Tarsis, effectively your home base where you can interact with NPCs and get objectives for missions.
The missions are fun and free play is a good chance to try out new Javelins as they feel unique and varied. The strongholds are a little tougher and you get a sense of the battles you’ll go up against in the full game.
Graphics and Sound
The graphics are beautiful and the sound is great. I played on a PC, i7, 1070 graphics card with 8GB RAM and headphones throughout the demo. The detail out in the wilds is fantastic and the sound is engrossing, taking you into the moment. Both are high points of the game for sure.
The gameplay is fun as you take your freelancer out into the lush jungle battlefield. It reminded me a lot of Pandora from Avatar – A living world full of life and enemies.
Flying is a huge part of Anthem’s appeal and is gameplay mechanic that sets it apart from the likes of Destiny. It took me some time to adjust to the vertical nature of the play style. I’m used to battling with enemies on the ground, hiding behind rocks and taking up snipe positions. However, Anthem offers something different (and fun!) with the flying. If you’ve ever watched a Marvel movie and wanted to know what it feels like flying around like Iron Man, then this game could be for you. There’s no doubt the flying feels great.
You have your standard guns, grenades and ultimate abilities as well as defensive capabilities. Playing as a Ranger I could fly in, take out a few enemies with my auto rifle or pistol and then switch it up with a few grenades. Each Javelin has an ultimate ability that you can unleash after a few mins cool down.
The battles and enemies are varied. The stronghold’s are particularly challenging and the mechanic of the end boss in the stronghold was great fun.
Everyone starts out as a Ranger in the demo at level 10. At level 12 you have the chance to choose another Javelin. I chose the Storm and man, that was fun.
- Ranger – A solid all round Javelin.
- Storm – This is the mage style, elemental Javelin with fire and ice abilities.
- Interceptor – Ninja style Javelin, fast movement.
- Colossus – Heavy hitting tank of the group.
During my time with the demo I played as a Ranger and Storm.
Loot & Customisation
As you progress through missions you pick up various pieces of loot. Rather than open packages along the way you get the loot at the end of the mission including weapons, abilities and perks. The Forge offers you the chance to customise your Javelin which a huge array of options.
I enjoyed my time with the Anthem Demo trying out the various Javelins, weapons and testing out the gameplay loop. The battles are frantic and playing with friends will be great. Hopefully BioWare will continue their history of great storytelling blending the elements of online multiplayer action RPG.
As with many live service games it’ll be interesting to see how BioWare plan to support the game. There’s reports out now regarding the end game and apparently there’s 3 strongholds in the initial end game – we’ll have to see if that satisfies the audience in terms of content. I’m interesting to see what happens with raids in Anthem as BioWare have been fairly tight-lipped so far.
It was unfortunate the game got off to a bumpy start with the VIP demo weekend, however I didn’t encounter any of those issues so hopefully BioWare have a handle on those technical issues. It’ll be interesting to see when the game releases how the servers cope with the influx of new players.
At the moment it’s too early to say whether it’s going to be the success BioWare and EA want it to be. I had fun during the demo for sure, however I’m not sure I felt the pull back in. The battles felt similar, there wasn’t a lot of variety in the guns and the reports of a shallow end game are a little concerning. However, if the game can get off to a solid start and build from there it certainly has potential. I’ll be playing Anthem when it comes out, but will I still be playing it this time in 2020?
The game launches worldwide on 22 February 2019. You can access the game before that, which is explained by the infographic below.