Anthem Review

Posted March 20, 2019 by Kyle Simcox in Video Games

Developer: Bioware

Publisher: EA

Release Date:
February 22nd, 2019

PC, PS4, Xbox One

In the world of Anthem, you begin the game as a rookie Freelancer who, alongside other veteran Freelancer’s, adventures into a violent cataclysm known as the “Heart of Rage” in order to prevent it from growing larger and destroying the world as the inhabitants of Anthem know it. After a quick gameplay tutorial, everything goes wrong story wise, Freelancers die and you’re forced to retreat leaving the Heart of Rage behind. After a two year time skip, players learn that the Freelancers have fallen from grace due to their failure and they’re forced to pick up odd jobs here and there just to keep food in their bellies. After a mysterious job offer from an organization known as Corvus, you’re sent into Bastion(the region in which Anthem takes place) where you eventually meet the Monitor and the journey to stop the dominion and save the world begins. Overall, it’s a decent enough story though with some predictable beats. The Monitor feels incredibly familiar however, especially to those who have played Destiny 2’s story and remember anything about it.

Much like the Tower in Destiny, Fort Tarsis is your pilot’s base of operations. It’s where you’ll spend your time accepting new contracts, chatting with various NPC’s and most importantly, customizing your Javelin’s. Seeking out the NPC’s to cultivate your relationships with Anthem’s various factions feels like a chore as the conversations last a bit too long as they tend to be of little interesting. Although I will say not all the conversations are bad. One for example is an older woman who lost her child and builds a relationship with your Freelancer. It can be rather sweet and heartwarming as you help her come to terms with the past. The fort is strictly a single player zone and despite the fact it slowly changes as the population grows(and subsequently the people you can speak to) as you play it always feels rather lonely. Bioware did listen to players in that regard however and added in the Launch Bay area which works similarly to “Monster Hunter’s” many multiplayer hubs. It contains a forge, vault and a store but there’s just no reason at all ever really go there unless you’re just trying to show off your Javelin to 15 other people and pick up contracts. Not to mention the area is just this plain, boring rectangle.

Talking about Anthem’s gameplay is a slippery slope. The good is that when the game works, Anthem is an absolute blast to play. Soaring around Bastion in your Javelin, completing missions and taking part in world events is legitimately fun and rewarding on all levels. All four javelin’s feel incredibly powerful with each one being fun to use in their own right and working together with other players to set up devastating combos is incredibly satisfying. The Storm hovers above the battle harnessing the elements to prime it’s foes by freezing them in place and delivering powerful lightning strikes that can clear groups of enemies with ease. Meanwhile, the Interceptor is down on the ground zipping from enemy to enemy, detonating primed targets with it’s melee attacks which cause it to unleash an elemental aura that effects any enemies surrounding it for a limited time. End game is also currently pretty bare bones with only Strongholds and Legendary Contracts being of any real value in terms of farming Masterwork equipment to build up your javelins.

The bad is that Anthem is so full of problems on a technical level that I’m not even sure it was play tested up until the closed Alpha they had at the end of 2018. Load times are far too long(even after the Day 1 patch), server issues still plague the game, various bugs makes completing a challenge using the “quickplay” function feel nearly impossible and one bug completely prevents players from picking up objects in the environment which includes opening chests. Those are just a few issues I’ve experienced and that’s unfortunate because the ugly part is that most of these things shouldn’t have made it passed QA testing. There was even a patch that was released on March 9th and while it fixed some of the issues in the game, many of then still remain. I haven’t experienced any crashing or audio issues since the patch but the quickplay mechanic still dumps players into bugged quests, players still lose the ability to pick up items and treasures and there’s a health glitch where you may have more or less health than you actually have.

Fort Tarsis and the
region of Bastion that surrounds it actually pretty good looking,
especially Bastion. I spent quite a bit of time the other night just
wandering around Bastion discovering new ways to get around by diving
into lakes, exploring caves and just going off the beaten path. It
really is a wonderfully crafted world but it’s also one of those
cases where the developer spent a lot of time building a really big,
beautiful and detailed world and then forgot to fill it up with
reasons to explore it(aside from the collectibles of course). With
the exception of the voice acting, the sound design is top notch.
Guns sound and feel powerful, detonating a primed enemy is
accompanied by an incredibly satisfying audio cue and your javelin’s
abilities just sound wicked. The voice acting just isn’t anything
to write home about and the character models in most cutscenes within
the Fort don’t lend it any support. Most of them are just the
characters standing there and waving their hands around as they talk.

I really wish I had better things to say about Anthem but due to it’s technical issues, I really can’t. In one hand I really do love to play the game and when it works, it’s a really fun game to play despite it’s lack of end game content. Yet, in the other hand, when I load up my game, spend my time farming Masterworks to better my javelin’s and the game crashes on me at the end of Stronghold during a boss fight, I can’t help but be frustrated and it hurts even more to see patches that claim to fix the issues but really don’t do much. However, I still very much look forward to what Bioware has planned out for Anthem’s 90 day roadmap with a new Stronghold dropping in April new story related content missions being released in May.

After putting 68 mostly enjoyable hours into Anthem due to it’s current state, WeTheNerdy gives Anthem a 6 out of 10.

About the Author

Kyle Simcox