Episode 3: Anthem Open Demo and Design Play Disrupt

Introduction

Welcome to This Week In Video Games Episode 3, my name is Tom Kershaw and I hope you’re doing well and have had a good week. This is a podcast all about what’s going on in the world of video games. 

This week we’ll take a look a initial thoughts on the Anthem’s Open Demo and what’s going on at the V&A’s Video Games exhibition. In the news this week we’ll be discussing the rumoured Titanfall Battle royale game, Resident Evil 2’s Ghost Survivors DLC coming soon, Metro Exodus and the Epic Game Store, details on The Division 2’s Private Beta, The Last Word comes to Destiny 2 and Twitches Streamer Ad controversy. Finally we’ll take a look at what we’ve got coming up next week. 

If you want to get involved in the show email us on podcast@thisweekinvideogames.com or check out the latest on https://thisweekinvideogames.com. We’re also available on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – so search This Week In Video Games on your favourite platform and join in the conversation. 

Initial Thoughts – Anthem Open Demo 

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.

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. 

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. 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 interested 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.


VA Gallery Video Games – Design / Play / Disrupt Exhibition at The V&A Museum in London, UK 

Video Games: Design/Play/Disrupt is an exhibition looking at the design process in video games, the industry issues and cultural impact.
There are 4 sections to the exhibition – design process, industry discussion, cultural impact and interaction.

Design
Modern games including Journey, The Last Of Us, Bloodborne, Splatoon and No Man Sky are focused on. The design process is highlighted with sketches, concept art, music and prototypes on display for game.

Industry Discussion
Industry professionals are interviewed discussing technological and cultural impacts of the video games industry including guns, women and breaking down the stereotypes. You can find the videos and links to key articles here.

Cultural Impact
You step into a huge theatre to watch League Of Legends battles in the stadiums of South Korea and the epic space battles of Eve Online. Multiplayer games are the focus here as video games have moved out of the single player story into the massive online battles we know today.

Interactive
The final part of the exhibition is an interactive zone where you can play some lesser known games however it gets you hands on and interacting after a lot of reading and watching.

I really enjoyed my time at the exhibition. It’s great to see behind the scenes of the design process giving you a glimpse of the hard work that goes into creating these worlds. The industry discussion section is very important as we look at the role of video games in society. If you can get to this exhibition I’d recommend it as it has something for all ages.
Check out the exhibition now at The V&A Museum in London, UK until 24th February 2019.

News Titanfall Free-To-Play Battle Royale Apex Legends Rumoured To Be Released On Monday 

A new battle royale Apex Legends is about to enter the arena according to Rod Breslau on Twitter. Set in the world of Titanfall the free-to-play game from EA’s Respawn is rumoured to be coming to PC, XBOX and PS4 on Monday 4th February. The game will have up to 60 players in total and will feature 3 player battles. 

It’ll be interesting to see how this game does in the crowded battle royale market. Blackout has been doing great business and Fortnite has become a global household name in the last 12 months. Can Apex Legends muscle in on the action? Epic have shown if you can get the battle royale formula right then Respawn had been working on ‘Starwars: Jedi Fallen Order’ which is due out later in the year.

Resident Evil 2 Remake Ghost Survivors DLC Coming Soon

Fans of the recent Resident Evil 2 Remake won’t have to wait long for more content to enjoy with the upcoming release of Ghost Survivors DLC coming February 15th 2019. 

The DLC pack includes stories of 3 characters who never made it out of Raccoon City. They include the gun shop owner, the Mayor’s daughter and a soldier. Resident Evil 2 Remake has been hugely successful as they shipped 3 million units worldwide in the first week of sales according to Capcom.

The game is available now for PS4, XBox One and PC and you can check out our initial thoughts on Resident Evil 2 Remake on the website.

Metro Exodus Exclusive On Epic Game Store

The Epic Game Store’s drive for exclusive content continues with the addition of Metro Exodus from Deep Silver.

Epic have the ability to give their prospective developers a better deal that Steam offering them 88/12 split rather than Valve’s 70/30 (games making $10m – $50m this reduces to 80/20). This has led to many game company evaluating their distribution platforms.

It will be interesting to see when Valve’s approach will change in the face of such competition. Epic have very deep pockets due to the wild success of Fortnite, so they can afford to do whatever it takes to get games over to their platform. Since the announcement fans have taken to Steam reviews to leave feedback on Metro games.

The Division 2 Private Beta Details

Ubisoft have told their fans what to expect from their public beta coming February 7th 2019. The game has shifted from the dark, dank streets of NYC to the lighter and open setting of Washington DC.
There are varied game modes to experience and it feels like a good look at one of the most anticipated games of the year.

Players will get a chance to rank up to level 7, explore a Dark Zone, do some side missions and check out the 4v4 Skirmish mode. On February 8 players will be allowed access to endgame content for a level 30.

This feels like a great move from Ubisoft as many of these live games as a service tend to live or die by their end game content. Giving players a taste of what’s to come in the end game can only be a good thing so they get a chance to evaluate the gameplay loop and provide feedback to the developers.

Many felt that by the end of The Division 1 the developers were getting things right, so there’s much anticipation for the next instalment of this franchise.

The demo’s available for all players who preorder the game. The game launches for PS4, PC, XBOX One on March 15 2019.

Twitch stops running streamer ads

Twitch have announced they are going to stop running ads for streamers on other streamer’s channels.

In December 2018 Twitch ran ads for Ninja’s New Years Eve stream. These ads unfortunately made their way to other other streamer’s channels leading to some creators venting their anger at the platform. Twitch recently sent an email to their creators stating: 

“Since December there have been two instances of ads on twitch which we believed help spotlight events taking place on-site with some of our creators. We recognise those good intentions caused concern across our broader Twitch creators that these ads may drive their audiences elsewhere and that ultimately we created a potentially negative impact with our efforts.”

Twitch

It’s good that Twitch have recognised this and are clearly listening to their community. On a platform where discoverability is hard for upcoming streamers this will come as good news.

EA removes FIFA points in Belgium

EA have finally pulled FIFA points in the Belgian release of FIFA 19. This comes off the back of the Belgium gaming commission declaring loot boxes in game should adhere to their gambling laws in April 2018. Many countries in the EU are looking at loot boxes and demanding companies remove these gambling features from their games.

“We are increasingly concerned with the risks being posed by the blurring of lines between gambling and other forms of digital entertainment such as video gaming”

Read the full statement from the Gambling Commission on the website – thisweekinvideogames.com

Both Belgium and The Netherlands have declared the practice of loot boxes in games isn’t in line with their countries gambling laws and they are starting to crackdown on this practice. 

It’ll be interesting to see if this spreads to other parts of the world and companies reaction to this.

Bungie add the Last Word to Destiny 2 and tease the return of another exotic hand cannon

Bungie have added the exotic hand cannon the Last Word to Destiny 2. Players must complete The Draw Exotic quest which is part of The Black Armoury. The quest was added at weekly reset on Tuesday 29th January 2019.

As well as the Last Word coming back it looks like Thorn is also returning as part of Joker’s Wild in Spring 2019. Last Word was an awesome gun in Destiny and it’ll be interesting to see how this compares to other hand cannons like Ace, Luna’s and The Coup. Bungie also made the Whisper of the worm sniper rifle available all the time, which is available on Io. Previously it had only been available at the weekends.

Coming up

Ape Out (PC, Switch) – February 7

BlazBlue CentralFiction Special Edition (Switch) – February 8

God Eater 3 (PC, PS4) – February 8

Monster Energy Supercross – The Official Videogame 2 (PC, PS4, XBO, Switch) – February 8

Stunt Kite Party (Switch) – February 8

Thanks for tuning in this week. If you like what you hear then go over to Apple podcasts and leave a review. We’re happy to announce we’re now available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts and many other podcast apps. 

If you want to get in touch with the show then email podcast@thisweekinvideogames.com or you can contact us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. 

Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next time! 

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