Before E3, anytime anyone brought up BioWare, it was likely to trash on Mass Effect: Andromeda. But after this week, it’s all about Anthem. This is BioWare’s next AAA game, and it looks huge. It is also causing some rumblings online. People have been quick to call this BioWare’s version of Destiny.
Now, this isn’t an entirely false assertion. Anthem and Destiny have some things in common. Players are kind of a Jack-of-all-Trades, respected warrior who goes around doing things to make a settlement a better place. In Anthem, they’re freelancers; in Destiny, they’re Hunters, Titans, and Warlocks. It is a game where you are encouraged to head out into the environment with a friend or friends, working together to take down enemies and probably deal with dungeons, instances, and perhaps even raids. But the similarities end there, and people need to appreciate Anthem a little more.
I mean, the E3 2017 footage for Anthem was impressive, and I feel like people aren’t paying enough attention to that. While the trailer shown during EA’s media briefing was an array of cutscenes and not indicative of actual gameplay, Microsoft’s press presentation showed us actual Anthem. That was in-game footage. We saw two human people hopping into their Javelin exosuits and heading out of the walled city to take down monsters. We heard them speaking with one another, referencing entering a dungeon when another player could join them, joining up with more players on the fly, and fighting monsters. It was impressive.
I feel like not enough credit was being given to the Javelins too. These exosuits are essentially Anthem’s classes. We saw the Colossus and Ranger in the video, with the former being a tank-style class and the latter being a more balanced option. These aren’t suits where that’s it, every Colossus is essentially the same. BioWare established that these are customizable mechs. We will be able to alter these as we see fit. And then, once we have the parts and abilities we want on them, changing the look and feel, we can fly through the world to reach destinations. Honestly, it struck me as being more like Xenoblade Chronicles X than Destiny, at that point.
Also, Anthem has some serious storytelling chops behind it. Remember Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2? They’re also known as the “good” Mass Effects. Also, you had fun with Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic’s story, right? Drew Karpyshyn wrote those. And now, Karpyshyn is writing this. He was the lead writer on some of BioWare’s best games prior to 2012, and now he’s back for Anthem. That is fantastic news. This is someone who was responsible for some of the most memorable titles to come out of the studio. Bungie didn’t bring on a writer that notable for Destiny. And Destiny 2 has Mass Effect: Andromeda’s lead writer, Christopher Schlerf, for Destiny 2, so there’s that.
Anthem is a game we shouldn’t be so quick to label. It is tempting to go ahead and say it is a Destiny-like, just as people are already saying Code: Vein is like Dark Souls and Super Mario Odyssey is like Assassin’s Creed. It makes it easier to digest the unknown when we can compare it to something established. But, it can also put expectations and preconceived notions on such things. We should wait until we have seen and played more before jumping to any conclusions about Anthem and what it is or isn’t like.