BioWare’s “Anthem” shines brightly through its beautiful world and unique characters but even that is not enough to overcome the proverbial darkness from a variety of issues it faces.
Repetitive mission design, innumerable loading screens and server issues are just a few of the many problems “Anthem” faces, which hold it back from earning its worth.
“Anthem” is not the first looter-shooter on the market and is likely not going to be the last, but it should have learned how to design missions and what to avoid from its predecessors. Players will find most of their time is spent walking, running and flying from objective-to-objective to kill enemies.
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These objectives are predictable in a looter-shooter but problems arise since mission structures and enemies do not change.
Players will find themselves shooting at the same wildlife or enemy faction for hours on end with almost no variation.
This makes almost no sense given BioWare has had years to reflect on the success of the “Borderlands” series, among other popular looter-shooter games, and could have easily added in colorful enemies. Players would get much more enjoyment out of fighting enemies mentioned in the in-game legends rather than fighting cookie-cutter soldiers and heavier bosses.
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The missions are made slightly more interesting by the four robotic suits of armor the player possesses.
The Ranger is built for all-around combat, the Colossus is built to be the strongest on the battlefield but sacrifices speed for its armor and firepower, the Interceptor is built for speed and maneuverability and the Storm is built to cause unique elemental damage to enemies and bring new levels to combat.
However, the weapons do not look entirely distinct from each other overall and are nearly impossible to tell apart. An assault rifle looks fairly similar to a light machine gun and comparing weapons of the same type but with different levels yields the same result.
Players never get to feel truly rewarded for going out and earning loot because it all looks and feels the same.
Bring in the fact that the crafting system is nearly useless and it feels like players have nothing to truly work for.
The consoles and computers “Anthem” runs on will certainly have something to work for, however, as they struggle to load during the numerous loading screens, unless playing on a high-end machine.
“Anthem” itself has not had server outages but there have been many issues where players will lose connection to a server which can be frustrating as they try to complete missions, strongholds or just mess around in free play. There is no way for players to simply play offline by themselves which is frustrating in a time where people are specifically asking for single-player games.
Players do get to enjoy some partial alone time as they explore the intricate Fort Tarsis and interact with a diverse cast of non-player characters, some of which are even voiced by the likes of Joe Lo Truglio and Kristen Schaal.
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Exploring the world outside Fort Tarsis is equally, if not more rewarding than the fort itself as it boasts an assortment of flora and fauna only rivaled by James Cameron’s “Avatar.” The only thing that would make exploring outside the fort better would be more customization options for players’ suits as they are extremely limited upon launch and further limit players’ desire to grind for seemingly nothing.
The final, and major, problem with “Anthem” is its pacing which is utterly disappointing as there are so many predecessors it could have looked at and grown from.
“Anthem’s” plot starts off mostly standard with several objective-to-objective missions but is majorly halted during the grind-fest known as the “Challenge of the Legionnaires.”
Players are forced to grind endlessly to complete a series of 16 goals which are hidden behind menus upon menus in the players’ journal.
It is these types of issues which blatantly overshadow the beautiful world and diverse characters throughout the world of “Anthem” and earn it a poor rating. More content will likely come out in the future and help increase the initial rating, but at its launch it is utterly disappointing and reflects poorly on BioWare and the video game industry as a whole for thinking this type of behavior is acceptable.