It’s been a while since I’ve seen a game associated with so much hype land with such a thud. Much like finding a turd in the proverbial punch bowl, EA and BioWare’s recent release of Anthem has been met with distain and community backlash. Is this No Man’s Sky bad? Could it be Apple Maps bad? I think there’s no way to know until we seen how this dumpster fire turns out but the list of strikes against the new IP have been daunting.
Released on February 22, 2019, by BioWare (under the EA flagship) Anthem was supposed to be the Destiny killer. Set in some futuristic, off-planet world, this looter-shooter gave players access to javelins, mech-like suits capable of various combat abilities. In development for six years, the gaming community was interested in this new IP with frothing anticipation. Little did we all know what the future truly held for the masses — though perhaps the closed beta held a clue.
I played the closed beta and thought the game was aesthetically pleasing, the movement interesting but found the combat a touch tedious. I remember remarking to friends Destiny combat was far superior. When it was said and done, the middling closed beta experience was enough for me to decide not to buy the game upon release and watch the community response. Validation is sometimes a wonderful thing and I’m just shallow enough to enjoy being confirmed by, well, literally thousands of fellow gaming nerds. Look, don’t get me wrong, I had no idea how bad this would get but I was, without a doubt, cautious of potential trouble. What sort of trouble are players having? The list is significant.
- Players report a game world devoid of life or activity
- Players report repetitive and boring combat
- Players report extremely weak end-game content
- Players report all the enemies and bosses look the same
- Players report all the environments look the same
- Players report Fort Tarsis is an empty world bereft of intrigue
- Players report broken loot, weak upgrades, and tedious progression
- Players report being banned for exploiting in-game loot
All of these issues (and more) have driven Anthem onto thin ice. Like a mountain climber trying to surmount a vertical cliff with a fraying rope, frozen hands, while being lit on fire, the future looks bleak for BioWare. If the latest reports are to be believed, the game may actually cause system instability to the point Playstation 4 owners are reporting hard shutdowns of their console while playing the Anthem. I don’t pretend to understand the nuanced of game code but that all seems like a very bad thingy. Very bad. The final nail in the coffin has to be the ratings. Metacritic has seen a number of players commenting about the problematic state of the game and the Xbox rating is the median of the other two (PC, PlayStation) which is still frickin’ horrible.
Though BioWare is attempting to rectify the mistakes, they may be too late. With the release of Ubisoft’s The Division 2 in about 10 days, BioWare are in a position which is hard to come back from. In the gaming world you have one moment to capture the money, loyalty, and time of your audience. That moment is the release date. Screw that up and in the highly competitive (and lucrative) gaming market, there is always something else to catch the player’s attention.
I’ll continue to monitor the situation with Anthem but the likelihood of me venturing into this new playground is remote. I guarantee if everyone would have been lauding this game from moment one, I and my group of close gaming friends would be in. As of right now, we’re decidedly not in.