Hope for the future? A mild defence of Anthem

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My life in gaming has been one of confusion. It’s not so much about not knowing what games I like but more that I enjoy games which nobody seems to enjoy.

As something of an example, one of my favourite games of all time is Hellgate: London.

The game was buggy back then and while taking it offline solved a number of issues when it was re-released last year, it didn’t solve all of them.

I bring this up because I am once again finding myself enjoying a game that has been lambasted since its private beta was released earlier this year – Anthem.

Does Anthem have myriad issues? Yes, I cannot deny the facts and the fact is that Anthem has had a terrible launch and there are a number of issues that must be addressed as quickly as possible.

But here’s the thing, I don’t think Anthem is a bad game and in time I think it could be a game that fans struggle to put down. Let me explain.

The Division of our Destiny

As it’s a looter shooter, it’s hard not to draw comparisons between The Division and Destiny 2, two games that I have poured hundreds of hours of my time into.

The primary draw of those games for me are:

  • Loot, and the constant search for better loot
  • Shooting and feeling like my body is dispensing death on a nuclear scale
  • An interesting world that encourages me to explore it.

That last point is perhaps most important for me because any game can give you a gun and tell you to aim it at a target but constructing a world that a player can form an attachment to takes work.

The Division was the first game that bit me. The dollar flu that formed the basis of the game fascinated me and the location of Manhattan gave Ubisoft enough space to tell a multitude of stories.

Destiny 2 held the same allure for me. There was a universe of potential for where the story being told in the game could go with the promise of visually fantastic loot and fun while you worked for it.

Both of those games launched with the enthusiasm of a sparkler that’s had bits chipped from it.

I persisted with The Division because the play loop was fun and the Dark Zone was a white knuckle experience the first few times you dared enter its corridors of doom. What made The Division particularly appealing was how involved Massive Entertainment was with it post-launch.

Developer updates were a weekly occurrence, issues that I’d seen raised by the community were addressed directly and mistakes were owned. It was beautiful to see because the developers were taking its game and player base seriously.

To be fair I gave up on Destiny 2 but I started playing it again recently and it sank it’s sweet claws into me again.

This time it wasn’t the developer’s obsession with the game that attracted me (though it does make me smile) but how the game had been changed and “fixed” in my absence.

Real gripes had been addressed, once boring grinding was now fun and addictive. Being able to read the lore at my own pace is incredible as well because Destiny has some of the best story telling in a game since The Witcher series.

There is just something about Anthem

Anthem has fun gun fighting combined with abilities that make you feel like you are in control of the elements themselves. Flying through the world is the best experience I’ve had with traversal since Marvel’s Spider-Man last year, the guns feel powerful and abilities give you the impression that you’re more similar to a nuclear bomb than a human.

The world Bioware is crafting for the game is intriguing and the characters each have a story that you uncover as you hit certain points in the game.

The mission’s in Anthem are short which is perfect for this sort of game but they appear so terrible because of the abundance of loading screens.

I cast no aspersions about being a video game developer because I am not, but I’m sure EA and Bioware with its wealth of resources can figure out how to combine some aspects of the game to reduce the frequency of loading screens and having to walk to certain areas to do things.

The team has already removed one loading screen by giving players the ability to launch an expedition from anywhere in Fort Tarsis.

As for loot and gear, these are things that can be added in time. Should these things have been there at launch? Yes, to be frank, there should be more than two styles of a Javelin to equip, there should be more weapons and more components to combine.

All of that having been said, those are things that can be fixed in time.

I think Anthem is worth playing right now if you can look beyond the speed bumps it has at launch.

Of course I could be mightily wrong about the game and EA and Bioware could continue to fumble but something tells me that won’t happen.

Sir Paul McCartney wrote the song Hope For The Future specifically for Destiny and I can’t help but feel like that song is relevant to Anthem today.

All the game needs is a team that cares about it, a team that is willing to take this L and work hard to fix the things that are putting a damper on Anthem. As I’ve said, gear and content will come as part of this on-going game and that’s honestly what makes games such as Destiny 2 so exciting. A constant stream of new content keeps things fresh and Anthem will benefit from this should the team decide to put the hours in.

Make no mistake, EA and Bioware now need to work doubly hard to earn back the players it burned but maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe in a year we’re all clamouring for the next slice of Anthem.

That’s the wonderful thing about the future though, we don’t know what’s going to happen, but think about what you could achieve Bioware. You’ve done great things before and I believe you can do it again.

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.