You’re probably going to be reading a lot of blog posts and seeing a lot of YouTube videos about technical issues with the Anthem Demo. That’s not what this post is. I generally had a good experience (a few glitches here and there) and I was playing the demo more to get a feel of what the gameplay loop would feel like. I’m also going to assume you know what Anthem is since it’s hard to avoid seeing articles about it these days.
All I’ll say about the technical stuff is, Bioware seems to be owning it and is communicating about it while fixing things. I’m glad these issues are being uncovered now instead of at launch.
Personally, I’m having a blast with the demo and I can’t wait to get my hands on the full game. I’m not sure how ‘hardcore’ Anthem is going to be but I’m not hardcore. A casual-friendly game where I can fly around in an exo-suit and explore and harvest and fight is just fine with me. In fact it is ideal.
I’ve been jumping between Xbox One X and PC, and on PC between mouse and keyboard and controller. For me, controller is the way to play. Flying with the controller feels intuitive and fun while I keep flying into walls using the keyboard. Probably just takes practice. If you play I would urge you to wear headphones because the soundscape in this game is amazing. The “whomf!’ of your suit’s jets when you dash really adds to the experience and headphones convey it best.
So far I think my favorite way to play is on PC with controller but streamed to the Shield and the 60″ TV, though that only works for solo/PUG stuff since I don’t have a voice channel playing like that.
There are a few interesting design decisions that Bioware made that I wanted to highlight. First, while you’re out in the world, you don’t see the experience you’ve acquired and when you get loot all you can see is what rarity it is. It is only when you get back to base that you’ll find out what you’ve earned in that mission. Bioware made this decision to help with the pacing of MP; basically they wanted to help the ‘flow’ of the mission by removing a reason for players to stop and rummage through their inventory every time they got a drop. I’m fine with this decision but have seen some folks who are frustrated by it.
The second decision I’m less sure about. You don’t get experience from randomly killing stuff. You get experience from accomplishing goals and earning Feats. Feats can and often are connected to combat — stuff like “Shoot 20 enemies in their Weak Spot” — but you can only earn a Feat once per “Expedition” (which is a catch-all phrase for any thing that takes you out into the world).
I’m unsure about this system because Bioware has built this huge world that is positively crawling with dangerous enemies, but there’s no real reason to fight them (remember, you can fly away from anything). The ‘smart’ way to play is to just fly past everything to your objective and fight only what you need to fight. There’s nothing wrong with this; it’s just not my personal ideal way to play a game. I love roaming around ‘grinding’ experience by fighting random things. So we’ll see.
I know Bioware is most known for its single player game and the company has said that Anthem can be completed solo. I did try this out. It’s a little weird because you have to set your session to Private in order to solo a mission, but when you do the game scolds you, telling you Anthem is best played Multiplayer. After you insist that yes, you really DO want to play Solo you can. I personally found Normal difficulty tough but do-able Solo (the Demo is fairly early in the game, I should point out, you start at level 10) and am happy to report Easy difficulty is, well, Easy to solo.
Anyway I’ve been looking forward to Anthem for a long time and I’m happy to say the demo just has me even more excited. I feel like this is going to be one those games that I play a bunch at launch, then return to whenever a big content update drops. That’s kind of my pattern with Destiny and The Division and I feel like Anthem is going to go into the same ‘bucket’ as those games. Can’t wait for launch!