Anthem is a game that we view as a massive disappointment due to what we were promised versus what we were given (just like Cyberpunk 2077). However, you had people out there who still attempted to enjoy what BioWare and EA felt was good enough to give us, even while angry because they hoped things would improve. As you know, even the hopes of the diehard fans were dashed as the overhaul of the game was shot dead in the water and left any potential submerged with it.
I am not going to tell you where Anthem went wrong, you know that. I am not going to blame the developers in this article nor am I going to angrily say they should at least put the game within the state they promised before killing it. Instead, this article is meant to demonstrate what my vision of an Anthem overhaul would’ve looked like, and how it could have been a gaming Cinderella story to rival Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.
Freelancers are seen as heroes with their own lore and tales, having a wall dedicated to their efforts with many things being discovered as our protagonist becomes a living legend with their Javelin. This had the potential to be as deep as Destiny’s lore, which allowed enough open-ended imagination that an entire community came together to write fanfiction, theories, and even entire YouTube videos which go into in-depth details to piece things together. The entire world of Anthem was still undiscovered, only scratching the surface and had the potential to uncover even more compelling history.
The gameplay itself was phenomenal in what it could have been. Flying around so freely gave you an all new experience in combat (closet being the open-world areas of Warframe), allowing you to explore open areas unlike other multiplayer games while having ground-to-ground, ground-to-air, and air-to-air engagements. The system which revolved around comboing Primers and Detonators was rough, but was a unique feature all its own that could have paid massive dividends with more polish and experimentation to encourage team-based gameplay. I was already having a ton of fun just playing what they gave us with all the fixes needed; the only reason I did stop playing was the ridiculous grind for legendaries and the ridiculous difficulty climb from one level to the next.
Something else I also loved was the enemy design and how it felt to take them down. Sure, I definitely think that somethings were cheesy, but taking on different creatures, giant bosses, and organizing to deal with frontal assaults being backed by snipers felt GREAT. Not only did you have creatures, you had wild life and other Freelancers to deal with. There was such variety with the potential for even more, and a game’s enjoyment can be chalked down to whether-or-not you enjoy what you’re up against.
Something else I want to talk about is the aesthetic. I loved the look of all the Javelins and the cosmetic items they sold within the store. Sure, they might have charged too much to try and make their money back from bad word-of-mouth and canceled pre-orders due to their laggy, bug-filled, constantly crashing VIP & Open Demo. However, they provided unique and cool designs that were absolutely breathtaking, and Anthem was a Third-Person Shooter, allowing you to see it at all times. Having the ability to apply the look you wanted, including things like the color just immersed you even further; it was YOUR Javelin.
When you see the original struggle games like Destiny and The Division had, only to come back and make excellent comebacks by listening to feedback, continually improving their formulas, and making an effort not to make the same mistake twice….you expect more from other games when they are down. We waited so long for Anthem, it did not deliver, and they spat in the face of the people who were counting on BioWare to be a majestic phoenix that rose a burning game from the ashes of its failures into a game full of its latent potential. So many things this could have been, and instead of doing what was right and laying it all on the line, a final nail was placed within the coffin and devastated a base of players who believed that things could be better.
As someone who enjoyed Anthem for what it was, knowing that it could be amazing, I am saddened by its death. Hopefully someone would have seen all the possibilities, making their own game to give us the original vision for Anthem instead of the failure that was sold to us on lies, deception, and the hope of players who believed that a developer as trusted as BioWare would give us what they displayed back at E3. I will remember Anthem for what it tried to be, not what it was.
Anthem, Feb. 22nd, 2019 — Feb. 24th, 2020.