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Letters from the Front

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I had the pleasure to play Anthem, the newest game from the original BioWare studio, creators of the original Mass Effect trilogy and Dragon Age as well as Jade Empire.  At first, I didn’t think it was a BioWare game because it’s so far out from the realm that they usually reside in and it’s the furthest shift from what they’ve usually done. Anthem still has that role-playing element that BioWare games usually has, but the biggest thing is that’s an online game in a vein similar to Destiny.

In a vein similar to Destiny and Tom Clancy’s The Division, Anthem is a shared world focusing on groups of players taking on new quests and gathering new loot. However, you still have that BioWare pedigree in which you can make important story choices throughout the main narrative, altering your relationship with different people and factions. Yes, I know it sounds traditional and pretty meh but all of this is under the roof of an online world where your friends or randoms are making the same or different decisions then you are.

At EA Play, I got hands on with BioWare’s latest game and it kind of restores my hope into the game but I still have some concerns with BioWare in the wake of last year’s closure of Anthem. Gaming politics aside, I got hands on with one of the missions and check out some of the game’s features and I have to say, it doesn’t feel like a BioWare game.

I got a first look at one of the missions titled “Scars and Villainy” which took me on an operation to destroy an ancient weapon. This mission was shown at EA Play, I received an extended version of the mission which included some exploring and fighting a boss. By the end of the demo, I came out of it feeling some hope for the game as I had reservations about it at last year’s E3.

Anthem is an action RPG, you’re given a ton of options to kill enemies. You can kill them with traditional weapons or special abilities like a frost grenade, you can fly into combat and use your skills in quick succession. Teamwork is key because if you can coordinate with your team you’ll be able to take down enemies faster and use combos which offer bonus damage. Here’s an example: You can use the Frost grenade and the Colossus’ slam skill to take out frozen enemies.

I was impressed with how good the combat was, the shooting mechanics feel meaty and tight which is how shooting mechanics should be done. Anthem shows growth in this department as the Mass Effect games outside of Andromeda has had serviceable combat but nothing too memorable.

The most powerful thing when it comes to your character is the exo-suit that your character carries. The suit allows them to survive out in the wastes, movement is one of the key pillars of Anthem and each suit can do different things. You can use the booster packs to fly through this detailed world and glide underwater at great speeds, almost like a super hero. While you’re not able to fly for a long time, flying through  environmental elements will allow you to cool down and keep you in the air for longer distances.

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The mission culminated in a boss fight, who summoned its minions to attack you and the demo ended halfway through the boss fight. What’s interesting about this point in the mission is that it highlights how important teamwork is in Anthem, teamwork is required to take down this boss since the boss is basically a bullet sponge, you’ll need to work together and use a lot of firepower to defeat it. While Mass Effect 3 and Andromeda had online components, they were mostly focused around the single-player element and crafting a good story for you to go through. Anthem is completely different to that of Mass Effect and Dragon Age, you’ll need teamwork to get through some tough fights although you can play it solo.

Anthem comes off as something completely different not just for BioWare but for us as well, it’s a complete departure from what we usually get with a BioWare game. I’m eager to know what else Anthem has to offer, this game can end up being BioWare’s next big thing and it could be as successful as their previous games.

Stay tuned for more when Anthem releases next year.

 

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