We finally got to get our hands on one of the most anticipated games of the year, Anthem. The last huge effort of BioWare after the not really memorable Mass Effect Andromeda is finally available for everyone. The Canadian software house has bet a great deal on Anthem, a game that should – according to what was previously stated by EA itself – involve the players for months, if not for years. This forecast seems somewhat optimistic, considering how the world of ” games as service ” is changing in shorter times.
Anthem offers you a world that is apparently beautiful and almost hypnotic. I must admit that my first contact with Bastion, the planet that serves as the setting for the game, amazed me. It has tremendous views of lush jungles, frozen mountains, ancient ruins to explore, lakes full of color and life, creatures with a bizarre and fascinating appearance. The first moments on Bastion is incredible: fly through waterfalls, immerse yourself in unknown channels, facing enemy along with other friends.
The world of Anthem was created by a vanished civilization, to which we refer simply by the enigmatic and evocative name of “creators.” These alien architects have failed to terminal the work on the planet, which has remained an unfinished work. The disappearance of the creators, however, had a heavy legacy: terraforming machines are so advanced as to be almost incomprehensible, but they still work: the hymn of creation generates mountains, reverses gravity, gives life to incredible monsters. All this happens practically without control.
In Anthem, we will take on the role of a specialist, a “freelance” defender of the cities of men able to pilot the Javelin, a sort of enhanced armor that is so reminiscent of the iconic Iron Man. The Javelin will be our most trusted companion, the medium on which Anthem builds all the gameplay and consequently the fun that the gaming experience can offer.
Although non-player characters and history, in general, are often an example of how much BioWare is talented in creating convincing stories, something does not turn out as it should. Non-player characters sometimes do not react as they should to the flow of events, asserting phrases out of place or irrelevant for the time being. Needless to deny it, this often jars heavily with the story itself (which remains however enjoyable).
Also, the secondary characters generally gave me a good impression; the illusion of their credibility has been brutally broken by what appear to be real MMO mechanics. Let me explain: when you do not wear the Javelin, you will be in a place called Fort Tarsis, a sort of game hub where you can accept quests and access the forge to improve your armor. In this place, the visual will be in the first person, and you will find many NPCs that often will always remain in the same places: none of them will follow you on a mission, remaining anchored to that place as if from an invisible chain. Fort Tarsis and the wild bastions of Bastion are two virtually separate parts of Anthem that fail to keep the player glued to events.
The gameplay is instead a rollercoaster of emotions: despite being incredibly exciting to fly, shoot, plunge into this lush and credible world, there is always something that holds back its potential. The flight itself, so well made and pleasant, is linked to an unpleasant mechanics of overheating of the reactors that will prevent you from flying as much as you want, forcing you to land more or less abruptly after a while ‘time (which varies depending on your equipment ).
All the missions I took were short but intense, and all needed matchmaking, lengthening the loading time a bit. You will end up with three other friends (or three strangers) for the jungles of Bastion, breaking down horrible, traitorous or metamorphic people. However, after the first exciting hours, this feature tends to repetitive: I found myself doing so many similar quests (knock down an enemy, silence an artifact, fetch ) that at a certain point I was not even listening to the NPCs that they talked to me in the helmet during the mission. My only goal was to keep knocking down and killing enemies, hoping to find a decent loot for my goal and in short, grinding in its pure state.
The true beauty of Anthem lies in the four available Javelins, very different in terms of characteristics and appearance. The Guardian, perhaps the most balanced of all, is the one I used the most. But I found a lot of fun Interceptor and Storm, leaving last the slow colossus. Obviously, it is clear that not having a PvP section (for now, even if BioWare could implement it in the future), Anthem is all about relying on its own and looking for new weapons, equipment, and skins around the vast gaming world.
Needless to say that (as in many EA games) there is a cosmetic shop from which to buy these aesthetic elements to the sound of game coins (many) or through the dear old credit card. It is not even possible to change the weapons of play: if a rifle is not at our height, we must return to the field to look for another. There is no other way.
Anthem is a divided game. On the one hand, we find a beautiful world, made with care, in which to move, fly, fight and win. On the other hand, MMO mechanics strongly linked to the grinding and non-memorable non-player characters go to undermine a good story and some excellent narrative cues. An exciting audio sector crowns it all but fails to bring Anthem to levels of excellence.
In short, there is a lot of potential in the latest work of BioWare: after all, the Canadian software house has already unveiled a roadmap that seems full of events and expansions for the future. Support for the game is there, and it is also undeniable that Anthem will enjoy a lot if played with friends. Too bad for those non-player characters really flat and for the Fort Tarsis section, which often seems to be part of another game. But if you want to fly in the skies of Bastion, you do this and more.