By Thomas "StrictlyBacon" Turlings on February 26, 2019
Over the past few years, many different Sci-fi shooters have been released. From Halo to Destiny, as well as the free-to-play competitors like Planetside and Warframe; each of these games was different in their own respect. It might've been the story that set them apart, it could also have been the overall hype that comes with the technology of the future that managed to generate massive interest over and over again for these games. And then there was Anthem, a game developed by BioWare; the creators of Mass effect and many more great gaming hits.
Anthem stirred up mixed feelings in many players, ranging from those who trusted the developer implicitly, to those who strongly suspected that the game's publisher (EA) might throw in some game-ruining microtransactions. And to address the latter of these two feelings: No, there are no microtransactions that have any influence on the game and the way you play. The only paid content comes in the form of cosmetics. So now that this is out of the way, let's move on to the actual review.
The world of Anthem is an unfinished one. No, not as in an unfinished game, but the lore of anthem is actually really interesting. Let me bring you up to speed: Centuries ago, the so-called "Shapers" started building a world which they planned to finish in nine whole days. But these shapers suddenly disappeared on the third day, leaving their tools of creation behind. These tools litter the landscape of the world and can be very dangerous in the wrong hands. In the game, these wrong hands go by the name of "The Dominion".
The Dominion is the main antagonist of our story and their goal is to take control of these tools of creation and, in doing so, the world. Overall, the story that takes you on a journey to stop the Dominion is quite interesting; you encounter secrets and progressively learn more about the world you're on. But some of the cutscenes can feel quite dull and the fact that you have to go through a loading screen before and after every mission sometimes feels like quite a drag.
Your character is a Freelancer. Freelancers have access to Javelins, which are powerful suits of armour that allow them to fly, withstand the harsh environment of the world and, of course, kill enemies. You get to choose between four Javelins at levels 2, 8, 16 and 26. Eventually giving you a complete set of every single Javelin there is. The first Javelin you'll get acquainted with is the Lancer. The Lancer is your basic soldier type Javelin, allowing you to efficiently kill enemies, making it a great choice for beginners. The other three Javelins are; Storm, a spell-casting Javelin with an insane hovering time, allowing you to fire lightning strikes and firebolts from a safe distance. Colossus, the tank Javelin which allows you to barge in with a shield and negate damage, while in the meantime dealing a good amount of damage in an area in front of you. And last but not least, the Interceptor, a fast paced, close range Javelin which focuses on speed and single target damage. Each player will have a different playstyle giving every player a different experience.
During the missions/contracts/quests you go on, you'll encounter a whole load of enemies. Mainly categorized in one of four groups: The Dominion, The Scars, The Outlaws and the wildlife of this world. While these enemies aren't that difficult to beat on normal/hard difficulty, it does get interesting after you reach the end of your story and the level cap that the game has set for you. Because this is where the "Grandmaster" difficulty comes in, defeating your enemies starts taking quite a bit of effort and you have to really work hard for your loot. This loot does become more rewarding as you progress your story though: the higher your difficulty is set to, the better the loot that drops in your lap will be.
Anthem has a philosophy of "My story, Our world", meaning that everything you do within Fort Tarsis is single player. But as soon as you go outside into the wild world that Anthem has in store for you, you'll venture into an online world in which other players can join you on your adventure. This makes it possible for you to play alone or together with friends, without feeling like you're missing any content. I do have to admit that this game gets more and more fun as you find (or make) more and more friends to play the game with.
This game has some of the best flying controls I have experienced in a while. While you're soaring through the skies the game just feels limitless (Until you need to nosedive to make sure your Javelin doesn't overheat). The only thing that feels clunky is the combat, sometimes the character I'm playing just doesn't seem to get what I want him to do. This might just be me, still needing to learn the ropes, but especially Storm's (the Spellcaster Javelin) hovering mode could be improved upon in my opinion.
I do have to admit that this game looks absolutely stunning; the environment, your Javelin, even the enemies you're decimating all look so unique and amazing, even on console. The world can go from vibrant green grasslands to dark caves in the span of a mission and that is what makes this world feel so special. The destruction that these shaper relics can do to the world is amazingly captured in the visuals that this game has to offer! Couple that with stunning landscapes and fast-paced travelling had me sold on this game while it was still in its beta phase, back in January.
While I'm on the subject of graphics, I do want to touch upon the character customization mechanics that this game has to offer. The fact that you get to choose between so many materials, colours and wear-states just makes you feel truly unique. After spending a good 30 minutes adjusting the colour and making sure the materials fit my armour, I do like to take a picture of my creation and send it to my friends to compare who looks more bad-ass.
Even though this game is getting a lot of (sometimes deserved) criticism thrown its way, I do think that the game has a lot to offer players, even those who might even be just remotely interested. Anthem has a World Of Warcraft-like grinding system which basically lets you kill enemies to get better loot to kill better enemies to get better loot to kill. okay, you get the picture. The only downside to this might be that it could potentially distract people somewhat from what is, in my opinion, a fun and truly great game. Now, I do have to say that I don't see this game winning any "Game of the Year" prizes, but that is okay; not every game has to be the best game around. So in the end, I do really recommend trying this game out for yourselves, but maybe wait for a sale to come around or try it through EA/Origin-access. Now, if you'd excuse me, I really have to fly!