This past weekend I got the chance to play the VIP Demo for the upcoming BioWare and EA Games looter shooter Anthem. However, much like many others who joined in on the VIP demo, a chance to play was all I had due to various hiccups, bugs, and issues that populated the demo weekend. When I was able to actually play the game as intended, I found the experience to be enjoyable, but those instances where I was able to freely play the game without issue were few and far between. That being said, I don’t want this preview to be a bunch of complaints about how buggy the demo was, and instead, I want to share with you all the various gameplay elements from the demo that you are probably more interested in hearing about.
Regarding the story, there were bits and pieces of Anthem’s story scattered throughout the demo with a quest line that has you helping your colleague Matthias unravel the mysteries of an advanced technological relic. I found the story missions to be intriguing, and I am definitely excited to learn more about what happens next. Additionally, there were other characters you could speak to that offered a choice between two dialogue options.
Depending on which option was chosen, it changed what that character said the next time I was able to speak with them. I found all of the characters to be charming and it definitely was nice to see this feature in the game as it added to my immersion into the game’s world. There was also a journal/codex of notes that contained more information on notable locations, characters, creatures, and general game lore. From the demo, it appears that this is where you will be filling in a lot of the gaps in the game’s lore. You can acquire more entries by exploring and there are even scrolls throughout the city you can find that add to your journal/codex.
The art style and music of Anthem definitely shares many similarities to games such as Warframe, Destiny, and even Mass Effect. However, that is not necessarily a bad thing as I enjoyed the art and sound elements of all of those games, and Anthem is no different. The flora and fauna of the outside lands, as well as the look of the city, is beautifully done and the game even places you in first person view when in the city to fully immerse yourself in the environment. I was also very impressed by the syncing of the dialogue to the character’s mouth movement which really adds a lot of life to the characters.
Now the bread and butter of Anthem are the Iron Man-esque metal suits called Javelins that you wear when going out to explore and complete missions. There were four suits available in the demo each with their own quirks and playstyles. There is the Ranger suit which is the all-rounder base suit you start the game with, the Storm suit which lets you harness elemental attacks at the cost of having less durability, the Colossus which is a heavily armored tank-like suit, and the Interceptor which is a quicker more agile scouting suit. The main element of these Javelins that separates Anthem from other games is the ability to fly around in any direction and is by far the best part of the whole game.
It really opens up the way you explore the world and not only is it fun but it also provides a lot of tactical movement when in combat with a lot of enemies. Each of these suits can also be customized to how you want them to look and play, and the sheer amount of customizing options was great to see. You can change the colors of various parts of your Javelin, the metal type, the metal wear, the patterns on the suit, and more. You can also change the various guns, grenades, active abilities, and passive perks.
Now it wouldn’t be a looter shooter without loot, and while there was a large number of items you could acquire in the demo, those who are expecting Destiny levels of gear drops may be disappointed. While gear can be obtained as drops in Anthem from what I can tell you won’t be acquiring large amounts of gear en masse. I personally like this because it made each gear drop more exciting as I checked to see what new goodies I obtained, but I can see it being an issue if gear grinding is a necessary part of the overall game. Similar to Destiny, gear in this game not only has your typical stats such as fire rate, magazine size, and damage, but it also has an overall power score that factors into your character’s overall power level. While power level didn’t seem to block me from content from my time with the demo, the jury is still out on how important this feature is to the game’s overall experience.
Anthem’s demo featured three types of gameplay options. One was the missions which you could queue up with friends or random players to clear through. Once the objective for the mission is completed, all players return to home base and collect their rewards. The other gameplay option was a free play mode which let you explore the world at your own pace finding world events, dungeons, and gathering crafting materials. It was enjoyable seeing other players in this mode and silently teaming up to explore the world and face various obstacles. The final option was a purple castle icon labeled Stronghold which I was unable to check out before the demo period ended. However, from what I can gather this is probably Anthem’s version of a raid.
Overall, I definitely think that Anthem will have a lot to offer, and I thoroughly enjoyed many elements of the game that I was able to experience during the VIP Demo. I am excited to play more and to check out the full game, however, there are definitely some bugs that need to be ironed out such as latency and the infinite load times. Should those issues get fixed, I think what lies underneath is truly going to be an enjoyable game to experience.
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