I got to play the VIP demo of Anthem over the weekend, and despite the connectivity issues (there were A LOT), I really enjoyed what I saw from the demo and I’m looking forward to playing the full game.
Being a fan of BioWare games (Dragon Age & Mass Effect are amongst my favourite games of all time), and a once avid player of Destiny (I haven’t played past Destiny 2: Curse of Osiris), hearing that Anthem was described as a cross between the two, I was really excited to play the demo.
You start off in a little place called Fort Tarsis. Here is your home base, the place you go to to talk to NPCs, customise your Javelin and start Expeditions (amongst other things). As soon as I entered Fort Tarsis the first thing I wanted to do was talk to EVERYBODY. As an avid player of Dragon Age & Mass Effect talking to NPCs was one of my favourite things to do, knowing that each one would have a different back story and different consequences based on the conversation choices I picked. I was curious to see how that would work in Anthem. Of course, given it was a demo I was limited to who I could converse with, but after speaking to the bar tender Amal, Lucky Jack, and a few others, I got a taste for what it’s like, and I can definitely say I wasn’t disappointed.
I don’t want to keep comparing Anthem to Dragon Age and Mass Effect as they are very different. However, I will say this. I have a feeling that characters like Amal and Lucky Jack are going to have a place in our hearts much like Cullen and Cassandra do from Dragon Age.
After doing a little exploring of Fort Tarsis I got to one of the fun parts: character customisation. Okay, so you can’t customise your character per se, but you can definitely customise the heck out of your Javelin. I had a lot of fun in this area, testing out different colour schemes, textures, vinyls etc. I played the demo long enough to be able to unlock all Javelins as well, and whilst my Ranger, Interceptor and Storm all had a very serious look about them, I had a lot of fun turning my Colossus into a big pink, yellow, green fighting machine! I’m unlikely to play as a Colossus when the full game comes out as tanking isn’t really my thing, but it was pretty fun flying around in multi-colours and blowing stuff up!
My favourite Javelin by far is the Interceptor. I’m a big fan of Melee and the Interceptor is perfect for this. Not to mention how speedy and smoothly you can move and fly around. I had the most fun playing with the Interceptor Javelin and trying out all of its abilities (at least the abilities I had access to).
In the VIP Demo I got to try out a couple of missions from the main story, and one of the dungeons. I think this is where the comparison to Destiny comes in to play, and I would like to say that anyone who says it’s Destiny with wings have got it completely wrong. Sure, it may look similar to Destiny, but the game play is more challenging. Even in Normal mode it can be quite tricky if you haven’t got the right weapon or in the right place to take cover.
The Dungeons are I guess what people would say is equivalent to a Strike in Destiny. However, judging from the one we got to play, these are definitely different. The Strikes in Destiny always felt very linear, in that you would just go up, kill some enemies, go up again, kill some enemies etc. until you came to the big boss. The Dungeon in Anthem was more open and you had to find your way to each point of the mission. There was one point whilst wandering through some tunnels that I got completely lost and had to find my way back.
It has been a while since I played Destiny 2 though, I haven’t played the latest expansion or DLC, so the Strikes might have changed since I last played them. But I just feel that comparing this game to Destiny is unjust and wanted to express why I think it’s a different experience. I’d also like to say that I’m not saying one is better than the other, I enjoyed both games immensely. However, out of the two, I’m much more excited to play the full game of Anthem than I was about the DLC/Expansion for Destiny.
There are a few things that I think could improve Anthem though. Not so much with the game play or story, but more with how the Squad and Free Play works. Every time I started an Expedition with my friends I had to send them an invite each time. When you finish an Expedition it doesn’t keep you in a squad. I can understand why it works that way, especially if you’d joined an Expedition with strangers, but as I was playing with friends it became tedious having to invite them each time we started one.
The other thing that I felt could improve was not having Matchmaking when you enter Free Play. Going in to Free Play lets you explore the area freely, harvest items and join World Events. But this is limited to only 4 people per server, and not only that, every time you start a Free Play it Matchmakes you as well. This isn’t too much of an issue if you’re loading in with friends, but when you’re already in Free Play your friend can’t join you as there’s already 3 people in the session that has been Matchmade to you. The only way to solve this is to leave the Expedition and start a new one with your friends. Again, this could get tedious over time.
A side note: yes the VIP Demo did have a lot of server issues and my friends and I had to restart the game so many times, which could impair my judgment on the issues raised above. However, I’m not going to complain about the server issues. Yes, they probably should have accounted for the amount of people wanting to play the VIP Demo, but until you get that many people playing you don’t know what sort of issues they’re going to come across. I just hope the issues are sorted for next week’s Public Demo (yes I’m going to play again!), or if not, at least for the date of release!
All in all, I really enjoyed playing Anthem and I’m looking forward to playing the full game when it comes out next month!