Content Expectations

The more bits I get from the Anthem devs, the more I am both fascinated and curious.  I don’t think my expectations for a AAA game are high for 2019, but maybe I’m in the wrong.  For a multiplayer launch, I would expect:

  • Social tools
  • Player customization (non-power related)
  • Solid mechanics (with numerical balance over time)
  • A dual path for progress
    • Learning the game/story/mechanics (e.g. leveling)
    • Repeatable and engaging content (e.g. end game)
  • Build / role diversity
  • Game stability

I realize that this is quite generic, and that there are multiple ways to achieve this.

Social

Destiny has an alliance mechanic, which provides some weekly benefits.  Off your friend’s list, the top 5 provide give a score that gives extra coins at the end of the week.  Those with no friends, there’s a catch-all bucket for the randoms you play with.  That’s neat and actually better than most other games.

There are no guilds at launch, which seems like a really odd choice.

The social hub should be there, which is good.  The game really feels empty, in particular Freeplay mode where the world can fit 100+ javelins and you’re only ever 4 at max.

There’s matchmaking for everything, so that’s a serious plus.  Not being able to see other people’s loadouts beforehand is going to make the top-end content a pain to manage, pretty much forcing pre-made groups.  Will be interesting.

Customization

Javelin-wise, Anthem has this nailed.  The outlines of Javelins make them recognizable, but the attachments, colors, textures, vinyls – all of it really does add a sense of individuals.

There are no gun customizations that I can see.  Maybe the legendary drops will look a bit different.

Mechanics

I think flight works really well, adding a 3d portion to most combat.  I am extremely hopeful that the devs never add another swimming section to the game.

I think the gunplay is average at best.  It is very loose, and makes weak-spot based combat ineffective.  I also can’t seem to find a realistic difference between all the gun types.  Pick the rifle with the largest magazine.  (‘Cept the heavy weapons for colossus).

The abilities are really quite awesome.  Primers and triggers make for some interesting combos.  I like that there’s a requirement to work together, and that some targets must be flanked.

Bosses have interesting mechanics, though there’s a tad more focus on bullet sponge than deserves to be present.

I like that combat is built for offense, since there are very few defensive options present.  There’s no cover, shields are barely enough to get outta dodge, and you need to actively pay attention to succeed.

Leveling

Not sure how this will work.  From what was presented, the core storyline has more potential than delivery.  There’s just something off about Tarsis, and the way the people move/talk.

Missions do not appear to be repeatable, which seems a terrible waste of resources.  Warframe really did an amazing job on this front.

End Game

From what I understand, there are only 3 strongholds (dungeons) at launch.  We saw one in the demo (Tyrant), and that one takes about 30 minutes to clear.  What was there was enjoyable, but certainly not enough to keep attention for more than a week.

There are weekly/daily quests through contracts.  Haven’t seen how that works, so no comments.

Freeplay has random events.  The spawn rate in the demo was very low, and it looked like we could access 25% of the map.  I don’t understand how that will work at release.  3x the map and the same amount of players?

There are also game generated events, like shaper storms.  Demo spawned a large titan, which was neat to see but a bullet sponge.  Curious.

BioWare has stated plenty of times they have big plans for end game.  There’s a general lack of detail on this.  I haven’t seen any content release plans after launch, so maybe I’m just in the dark on this.

Build Diversity

In the demo, there was a lot of this.  Each javelin plays much differently than another.  Abilities make a huge difference in playstyles.  It’s a lot of fun to experiment.  There are QoL things here to provide more info on builds and options (to avoid having to reference a wiki), but that’s more than manageable.

Again on guns.  There’s not much here – they feel more like stat sticks.  That’s mid-game though, so perhaps end game has a reason to pick a 4-burst rifle vs a high ammo version.

Stability

I am not getting my hopes up for this.  Great that those issues came to light before launch.  Bad that those issues were so pervasive before launch, from a publisher (EA) that makes a living on on-line games with the Frostbyte engine.  Feels a bit like the ice cream machine always being broken at McDonalds.

There are some rather significant PC optimizations required for people to play this game.  I’ve generally been able to play any game at high or ultra, without much issue. For this, I’m running 95% CPU and peaking over 90s in temperature.

 

For now, it’s mostly conjecture until launch.  There’s a lot in the game now, a lot more than should be coming by launch, and ??? after launch.  I’m sure that next week we’ll get a view at the service roadmap, if not the week following.  It’ll be hard to get people who are on the fence to commit if what’s there now is all there is for the next few months.

Given EA’s recent report on a bad quarter, and pointing to Apex & Anthem as the next thing, it’s important to note that Anthem’s business model is nearly entirely built on box sales.  And EA wants to sell 6m of those.  Dollars to donuts, Anthem doesn’t hit that number.  Horizon: Zero Dawn sold 7m total.  God of War was 5m in a month.  Combined with Origin Access essentially giving you the game for $20 for a month’s access…the math here just isn’t going to work.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fine game, but it is far from blockbuster.  This entire paragraph was an unpleasant typing experience.

4 thoughts on “Content Expectations

  1. While the new hasn’t worn off from Apex yet, I think they’ll be just fine this quarter, regardless of how Anthem does.

    I play battle royales even less than MOBAs, that is to say not at all, as opposed to one or twice against computer opponents, but my god, they have definitely tapped into some sort of generational zeitgeist here.

    Like

  2. Worth noting that Horizon: Zero Dawn was a single platform exclusive though. That said, the EA investor details said they wanted to ship 5-6 million units of Anthem within a quarter. That… might be a stretch? Does depend I suppose on the accounting treatment of the Origin Premier access to it, although this only applies to PC, so two other whole platforms in which only way to get full access is with a box purchase.

    I’ll be very curious to see how this plays out and how much runway BioWare will have if the initial targets are not met. There is a lot of doom and gloom around BioWare’s future if this ‘fails’ and I suppose if we’re talking something horrendous like sub 3mil (which I don’t see happening) then their future might be in immediate jeopardy.

    But it seems to me that EA’s business model right now is to knowingly put something out early that will be bitched about from a lacking content perspective and give it some time to build up after. I can only imagine that if they’re still doing it now that it must stack up for them, but intuitively I would have thought that critical early sales period to be too heavily damaged by such an approach to work over the longer term as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Right on H:ZD. Same with GoW. Single consoles exclusives with consistently high reviews. Also single player, which aside from SWTOR, is the primary market BioWare has experience in.

      EA’s business model is extremely dependent on FUT boxes in FIFA – some reports put this near 40% of annual revenue. MTX are 50% of Acti-Blizz revenue. Considering Battlefront 2, and Battlefied V being “sales disappointments”, it’s hard to figure out what the heck is going on outside of MTX-ville.

      I would guess we’re on the same page on the overall view. There’s a logic gap in the model.

      Like

      • I can’t seem to find an apples to apples comparison for H:ZD and GoW, but it sounds like H:ZD broke records at the time of it’s launch for a first-party title with 2.7m units shipped in just under 2 weeks. But then GoW comes along awl, ‘Hold my beer’ and sells 3.1m units in 3 days.

        As of Feb last year, H:ZD had moved 7.6m apparently, with GoW doing 5m in a month as you mentioned. I can’t find any more recent figures for this that are solid, but some players reverse calculated from a Platinum trophy infographic done 4 months post launch that ~9.1m units had probably shipped.

        So I’m thinking that across all three platforms that 5-6mil in a 3 month period for Anthem is not unrealistic. That’d be a business case I’d be willing to back in the position of their money people. Or at least, I would have prior to the VIP demo. I do honestly think that, from a business perspective, the demo in the way they ran it was probably a bad thing for them.

        The superfans weren’t going to change their mind either way, but it loaded the shotguns of anyone who profits in any way, shape or form from the ‘lol, it sux’ videos that cropped up. Although it’s entirely possible I’m way overestimating the impact these people have, I have no way of knowing outside my own experience.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s