As you’ll likely know, “games as a service” is kind of my niche. I play a lot of Destiny sure, a fair amount of Division 2, and a decent amount of Marvel’s Avengers and Warframe. Put simply, if a game is continuously evolving and has a fun loop loot, I’m there.
You can imagine my excitement, then, when Anthem was announced. A game that essentially put the “loot shooter” in an Iron Man suit, with a Bioware storyline tying everything together, it became my most anticipated game almost instantly.
What followed was a tale as old as time, at least as far as service games go. Anthem launched with plenty of bugs (many of which are still issues today), its story was simply window-dressing, and players that finished the campaign found that there were three missions to replay as its “endgame” offering.
The team at Bioware dropped some patches to fix issues, including thinning out the game’s copious loading screens, but the only new content that arrived (outside of a fourth ‘Stronghold’) was the Cataclysm - which was essentially a time-attack mode.
The tragedy is, though, that Anthem deserved better.
I’ve put well over a thousand hours into the Destiny franchise. In that time, I’ve run the same content ad nauseam, purchased expansion packs and season passes, and dragged my friends kicking and screaming into Bungie’s universe, despite knowing its inherent flaws.
Why? Because the act of firing a gun or punching an alien in the face just feels so good.
Of course, that’s because Bungie has been honing its shooters since launching that little-known title with the bloke in green armour back in 2001, but despite its RPG roots, Bioware actually had something pretty cool with Anthem’s combat.
For one, flight felt great. Marvel’s Avengers has Iron Man in the game, but he doesn’t control half as well as Anthem’s various ‘Javelin’ suits. Flying, dodging, or even just jumping and hovering felt great.
That, combined with weaponry that felt weighty and surprisingly distinctive, plus unique abilities like rocket salvos and the Storm Javelin’s ‘magic’ abilities meant that combat felt like the glue holding the game together.
Sure, it’s not on the level of Destiny, but it remains a one-of-a-kind experience that it’s a shame more people couldn’t try.
Anthem’s world was interesting, too. A huge, green ecosystem that felt like a forest for giants, the world teed up story concepts that the game’s narrative couldn’t quite hit, but if nothing else was frequently gorgeous to look at.
So, what next? Well, Bioware cancelled the reported “Anthem Next”, a reboot that would’ve offered a radical reworking of the game’s core systems. While the game’s campaign is unlikely to offer a new player great mileage, based on its thin story, forgettable characters, and limp mission design, I’m going to fire it up this week just to zip around the world, shoot some big ol’ monsters, and hope for some cool loot.
Maybe Anthem doesn’t need to be a game as a service. Maybe it can just be a fun game for an hour or two at a time.
It deserves that, at least.