BioWare is going all in on their next AAA game: Anthem. Starting off E3 week with a bang, they broke down details about the game, the world, and how one signature thing BioWare has become known for won’t be in this game.
Let’s do a brain dump of everything we’ve seen, heard and researched from the past 24 hours. It may not be all-inclusive, but if you’ve never heard of it before or don’t know anything about it, our goal is to get you up to speed.
The world of Anthem isn’t post-apocalyptic, nor is it cyberpunk. Rather, it’s set in a world that has elements of the movie Prometheus. The world was left unfinished by the “gods” who vanished, and in doing so left the world in a state of chaos. When the gods left, they also left behind these massive tools that are in constant conflict with an unknowable force called the Anthem of Creation. The chaos caused by these forces pushing against each other is re-shaping the world in new and unpredictable ways. Mutated creatures, epic monsters, and violent storms are caused by this constant struggle – it’s a very dangerous and unforgiving place which necessitates the use of an exosuit in order to survive.
You assume the role of a Freelancer, a uniquely skilled pilot capable of flying one of these exosuits. Your immediate focus is to stop your ancient rival the Dominion. They believe they have found a way to weaponize the Anthem of Creation, and in order to save Fort Tarsis, they must be stopped. Additionally, you need to shut down the machines that are attempting to wreak havoc on the environment – while not being killed in the process.
While being a multiplayer game at its core, it will have a strong single-player story mode similar to other BioWare titles. To meld multiplayer and single-player, the concept of “Our world, my story” was created. The “Our world” piece is when you are going on missions with your squad, but when you return to your base, you’re placed into the single-player “my story” part of the game where you can interact with characters and experience the consequences of your actions. The story has been designed to be organic as BioWare made it clear they plan to support the game in an episodic way for years to come. There is no player-vs-player at launch, and the game requires an always-on internet connection. Further, the romantic elements BioWare has become known for in their games will be absent in Anthem. This is a design choice and not due to any technical limitation.
There will be no lootboxes and no ability to pay for progression or to gain a competitive advantage over other players. Progression is also tied to the pilot and not the exosuit. As a pilot levels up, their ability to fly will increase and rewards will be given based upon the exosuit in use at the time. Cosmetic and vanity items will be available for purchase but will have no impact on gameplay. For example, if you want to customize your exosuit to look like an Evangelion Unit-01, it’s possible but there may be a cost involved.
Exosuits are called Javelins. Javelins range in height from seven feet to over nine feet and have different abilities. The exosuits are handcrafted and not mass produced which gives them their unique look – they are also based on “shaper” technology which is still largely a mystery as it’s millennia beyond human understanding. There are a total of four: Ranger, Colossus, Interceptor and Storm. The Ranger is fairly nimble, fairly agile and could be described as being the multi-class of the group. Colossus is designed to take and deal significant damage, moves at a slower rate, and is a traditional tank. Storm is a magic user, extremely powerful, and capable of dealing out tremendous amounts of damage, but is a glass cannon. Lastly, there is the Interceptor, which BioWare hasn’t released any details about yet.
Based upon the needs of the situation, players can choose to switch Javelins before missions throughout the game. Initially, you will start with the Ranger and the others will be unlocked during gameplay. More Javelins will be added to the game in the future, but no further details surrounding this has been released. Flight is done via jet-packs however you can’t fly indefinitely as they overheat – they can be cooled off by landing or by submerging in water which essentially resets the cooldown period and extends flight. All Javelins will be capable of flight, ground, and marine-based gameplay.
BioWare has designed the environment to have a shared feel for all players to experience simultaneously. The world is meant to feel alive as weather, storms and seasons are always changing. These events are happening in real-time so everyone in the game at that time is affected – this is another of the core elements of the “Our world” pillar we mentioned earlier.
Whenever you go on a mission, you will have your own dedicated server. BioWare has total control of the servers and can, for instance, flash a message to all players across all servers simultaneously.
BioWare typically works on multiple games concurrently, but this is the only title they have officially announced so clearly their focus is on Anthem. With Tokyo Game Show and Paris Games Week still ahead, expect more details as we have them. We expect a near-final build at PlayStation Experience 2018 where we should have some hands-on impressions as well.