It’s not often a game dev gets to make two hail mary passes.
A year ago, nearbouts this time, I was playing the initial release of Anthem. It was really rough around the edges and only a few weeks from launch. It reminded me a LOT of Star Trek Online in that regard. BioWare had staked a lot in Anthem, and the hype machine was in overdrive.
Anthem officially launched on Feb 22, 2019, do disastrous acclaim.
There are many lessons to be learned about that launch. One that all successful indie developers have figured out by now. Find a few basic concepts, iterate the crap out of them until they are perfect and build from there. Each game picks a specific set of things to do well, and to be successful, does those things extremely well. Anthem’s largest mistake was that it didn’t pick anything… it was just mediocre in every aspect.
There are folks who would argue that flying was extra special. I’d go so far to say that it wasn’t, because of the overheating mechanic and the fact that the game was designed with 2D combat. With rare exceptions, there are no flying enemies – everything is ground based.
That Anthem launched at all is its own miracle. That people still play it today feels like flat earthers. That the devs think it’s worth salvaging is at another level.
So call me surprised when Mr Hudson announced what is ostensibly Anthem 2.0. All the fancy buzzwords are there. All the platitudes about taking the right amount of time to iterate. All of that with a cup of salt, mind you. Do recall, this is the same company (either them or EA) that abandoned the Mass Effect Andromeda team and effectively shuttered the studio.
The light here is that most of the senior brass has moved on, and what’s left are the actual worker bees. Postings for people with experience in ARPG mechanics last spring hopefully have brought fruit as well. It would be a self-inflicted wound for EA/BW to simply abandon a relatively bright IP when it can clearly work as a game-as-a-service.
Who knows, maybe they learned their lessons and will deliver a quality product. The pieces are certainly there. And we know it’s possible since both FF14 and Diablo 3 were able to get it right the 2nd time around. Guess this has piqued my interest.