Ever since summer 2018 and the E3 Expo, one word has been persistently uttered and exchanged among RPG gamers. Anthem. Whether it’s hardcore gamers at conferences or open world fans on internet message boards, everybody wants to know when it’s dropping, what it promises and whether it’ll live up to the hype.
While there’s still lots we don’t know about Bioware’s upcoming action RPG, we do know its story focuses on the defence of civilisations and the Freelancers, its world wandering, exo-suit wearing protagonists. We know there’s no romance: the studio has firmly disappointed fans who hoped for the kind of cheeky space erotic familiar to games like Mass Effect.
There have been a number of other reveals, promises and descriptions. So, let’s sum up the journey until now – Anthem: everything we know so far.
What Is Bioware’s ‘Anthem’ RPG?
Anthem is Bioware’s upcoming RPG release. According to the studio, it’s a shared world shooter that meshes exhilarating group combat with truly captivating narratives. So far, so good right? It gets better. Bioware has said its players will get the chance to don exo-suits (called Javelins) and, essentially, fulfil all those Iron Man dreams they’ve been harbouring.
After seeing snapshots of Anthem’s potential at E3 2017 and 2018, we’ll confess to being pretty excited about this one. The combat looks weighty and responsive, the graphics are beautiful and the story sounds engaging (if not all that original). From what we’ve seen so far, the gameplay looks closest to titles like Borderlands 2, Destiny 2 and WarFrame.
Players can go solo or team up with as many as three other players to complete missions, explore a sprawling open world, conquer formidable bosses and build incredibly sophisticated exo-suits. Bioware has hinted at the inclusion of open choices – and consequences directed by these choices – but says they won’t be as extensive as in other games.
The dirty ‘m’ word has made an appearance too. There will be micro transactions in the game but Bioware promises to limit all paid content to cosmetic features. It says it won’t put story missions behind a paywall.
When Is the Beta Version of Anthem Released?
Bioware fans don’t have long left to wait because the Anthem beta drops in just a few days. On January 25th, it will be made available to Origin Access Premiere members and anybody who pre-orders the full version of the game. But don’t worry if that’s not you. The demo gets rolled out to everybody on February 1st.
Bioware is keen to let people know its beta won’t be used for stress testing. The demo is fully playable and designed to give fans a sneak peek at all aspects of the game and story. It’s certainly a big download, at 43GB. Make sure you’ve got enough space if you want to play this early version of Anthem as soon as it drops.
According to the studio, the balance for the Anthem beta is slightly different to that of the full game. There won’t be as many intro tutorials either.
When Is the Full Version of Anthem Released?
Thankfully, there’s not long between the beta drop and the full game release. Bioware has, wisely, kept the two less than a month apart. After a delay of several months, we’re glad to see the project back on track and almost ready to go. The full version of Anthem will be available on February 22nd 2019.
Although if you’re lucky – or more accurately, if you have an Origin Access Premiere pass – you’ll get to play the game even earlier on February 15th.
What Do Players Get to Do in the Beta Version?
Just last week, the head producer and senior level designer of Anthem livestreamed a play through of the beta game. It’s worth hunting down on YouTube because lots of interesting details, both big and small, are revealed or hinted at. For example, there is a total of six difficulty modes – easy, normal, hard, and three top levels titled ‘Grandmaster.’
We know, when players get confident enough to try the hardest modes, they’ll find the stakes and potential rewards (particularly in terms of loot) much higher. The harder the mode of play, the more powerful the video’s game’s monsters. Although, players do have access to better perks and more health points.
Like we said, the livestream is worth your time; it reveals a lot about loot boxes, customising exo-suits and confronting enemies. Alternatively, watch some of the teaser videos Bioware has posted on its YouTube page throughout January. The first appeared on January 17th and it goes into more depth on Anthem’s combat mechanics and narrative systems.
How Will the Combat in Anthem Work for Players?
Bioware has been delightfully chatty about Anthem’s combat details. It’s great for us because we can’t wait to see those Javelin exo-suits in action. The studio has confirmed that, in the full game release, combat gameplay is both third person and group centric. Players will be able to shoot and melee while flying in their ‘Iron Man’ exo-suit.
There are four types of Javelin exo-suit – Ranger, Colossus, Interceptor and Storm. Aside from sounding cool, they endow players with a distinct set of abilities, fighting skills and flying styles. Often, when you’re on a mission, you’ll be forced to use a particular Javelin. You can, however, play around as freely as you want in the open world setting.
Each Javelin comes with two customisable gear slots, a special ability and what is known as a ‘support’ ability for use in battle only. Keep your eyes open for spilled treasure too, as Anthem’s enemies drop spoils like they do in Destiny 2. It looks like you can level up pretty quickly if you make good use of these dropped items.
What Are the Non-Combat Options in Anthem?
Of course, it’s not all about fighting (those it’s a lot about fighting, especially with those exo-suits). There’s a huge open world to explore, so players don’t need to constantly battle. We appreciate the option to free roam and scavenge with friends. So often, these open world games feel lonely and isolated. We’re happy to say Anthem offers the best of both worlds; players can form marauding bands or set themselves up as lone wanderers.
There’s nothing all that innovative about Anthem’s free play mode. It’s familiar in that events and people happen ‘spontaneously’ around players and they can choose whether to interact with them. Most are just fun side quests but there are a few missions that really add to your understanding of the game’s protagonists and environments.
Where Can Players Learn More about Anthem?
If you want to know more before the game drops next month, start with Anthem’s YouTube and Twitch pages. You’ll find videos of the developers describing gameplay, combat mechanics and more. There is also a series of online Q&A sessions that the executive producer has shared with fans.
Take a peek for more details, snippets and reveals about what could be the most exciting RPG of the year.