20 Minutes of Anthem Gameplay From E3

Posted on 18 Jul 2018 by
L Coulsen

Anthem is a game we haven’t really talked about yet. Apart from some of the stuff shown at E3 over the last few years. That’s not because we haven’t been following it though, it’s just that there hasn’t been much to really comment on. The majority of the information we’ve had, so far, has been dev-speak that seems to have been far more geared around keeping the name in people’s heads, without actually giving details. But now, thanks this year’s E3, we have something to actually sink our teeth in to. In the shape of a gameplay video, with dev commentary, that comes in just shy of twenty minutes.

Lead Producer Ben Irving talks us through the experience, demoing several features of both the core gameplay and co-operative aspects of the upcoming title. Starting with an in-game cinematic that, well, let’s just say Andromeda isn’t the only BioWare game with some dodgy facial animations. The Maori looking chap who gives the mission briefing has a shit eating grin that would have former UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, in paroxysms of sheer envy. It’s pretty darn hilarious to be honest.

From there, we see the player (also a developer) board her Javelin, in this case a tank type called the Colossus, and head out into the world map to meet up with some friends. From there, with a second Colossus decked out for melee combat, and a smaller recon exosuit, we’re shown some of the world traversal. Which actually includes some pretty cool ideas like flying through a waterfall to cool your boosters, so you can fly for longer. Not gonna’ lie, that’s a nifty mechanic. We’re told that there will be more elements like this, but we don’t see any of them at this time, so we caution all to reserve judgement for the final product. It’s easy to claim that a game world is full of neat little tricks like that, but we should all know how infrequently such promises are delivered upon.

The rest of the video is pretty straight forward, showing us how combat works, including the ability to string together your squad’s different skills to do extra damage. A somewhat open ended approach to engagements giving you the option to sneak past or, in this case, destory an outpost before the enemy calls for reinforcements. Also, combat areans will give you the option to check them out before engaging, choosing to take out long range snipers or missile turrets first, based on which part of the area is going to be most dangerous and/or easiest to remove first. Those who have played MMOs will know, reducing total DPS is often the best solution, rather than rushing in to take out the heavy hitters first.

One of the best things we’re shown is that relative player levels don’t affect the game overly much in a group. Even if you are level 1, you can still jump in with some end game friends and not have to worry about being made of tissue paper. Details on precisely how this works are a little sparse at the moment, but it seems likely it’s some kind of auto-levelling system. Basically buffing and/or nerfing players and enemies so that the playing field is equalled out.

The video as a whole, truth be told, let me pretty luckwarm about the end product. It feels very much like a game that’s had every conceiveable game mechanic in the universe just thrown at it, with hopes that players will find something they like and be won over enough by it, that they’ll keep playing. This impression, I won’t deny, isn’t helped by the overall quality of the video itself, which shows multiple compression artifacts even at 1080p. Not something that would be BioWare’s fault directly, one would hope (probably just YouTube’s shitty compression) but it does tarnish what should be a genuinely gorgeous looking game. But even then, looks aren’t everything.

In short, Anthem looks…it looks okay. But that’s really as far as we’re willing to go right now. Some of the Judges remain quite eager to play the game, but our general consensus here is that it’s just another, modern, BioWare game. It promises a lot, but isn’t really delivering all that much we haven’t seen elsewhere. Time will tell. But don’t take our word for it, check out the video for yourself and drawn your own conclusions.

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