Anthem Year 1

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.

4 thoughts on “Anthem Year 1

  1. Is “cautiously pessimistic” a thing?

    The game has a beautiful, interesting world and setting and amazing customization options.

    The rest can be redone ground up, really. Flying is cool though, but yeah, make use of that space for fighting, not just for puzzles. The 4 different javelins all have a good difference mix. But the gameplay loop is just, well, poop.

    Rhymes are fun.

    Should have been a single player driven story a la Mass Effect, could have been great. But, well, loot boxes and live service ruined all of that.

    I hope there are more failures on “always on” kind of games.

    Hell, Andromeda was an amazing rebounded game that people couldn’t be bothered with. Was still my favorite game of that entire year but people gave up on it before it had a chance. (think i was 100 hours into that one…)

    More proof that past success does not indicate future success.

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    • It was a single player game…until you hit max level. Within that scope I think it did well enough, barring that stupid achievement quest to open a door.

      It’s tough to see the clear potential here and what came of it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have no clue how to fix it, either. I do know I still managed to really enjoy aspects of it but the part it was suppsoed to be built off of (looter shooter) was very weak – the loot itself, that is – and how hard it was to improve. They’ll have to rebuild that from the ground up if they even hope to have any sort of chance.

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