EA and controversy go together like tomato sauce and almost any food (trust me). So when their ‘Destiny-killer’ released earlier this year bringing with it a thousand articles about how it had disappointed fans, been released too early, and harboured a whole host of nasty bugs, all I could do was roll my eyes and think: “not again.” After a failure of a launch, at least in the court of public opinion, a couple of weeks later Ubisoft’s answer to the games-as-a-service model, Tom Clancy’s The Division 2, released to nothing but success and stole a lot of players from the space-superhero shooter. However, genuinely enjoying my experience so far as Anthem really does allow you to become a jet thrusted, immensely powerful badass, I remained with my three-man squad of magical Ironmen and gave EA the chance to right their wrongs. Now ankle deep into the endgame of Anthem, the pool of content has already begun to feel a bit thin.
The core gameplay loop of Bioware’s space-shooter is undeniably a literal blast. There is nothing in gaming this year that is more satisfying than crashing down onto a group of enemies with a fireball creating melee attack, to then teleport back into the air, throw some ice meteors down onto the remaining forces, and then see your friend finish them with an explosive lightning blast to create that sweet, sweet combo sound. But even the most exhilarating gameplay can begin to feel stale after playing the same mission a dozen times. Difficulty level can only go so far to spice up the experience.
The main issue is that there isn’t really enough to do in a game that is trying to soak up all of your gaming hours day after day, like The Division 2 is still doing for many of its players over a month on. So to help shake up the formula, give players a compelling reason to keep coming back, and to give the fans of Anthem some pay off for sticking around in these rocky and uncertain times, here are five additions Bioware could add to the game to help accomplish all of that.
My first addition is a pretty significant change to the gameplay that I can’t believe more people haven’t been asking for. Flying around in Anthem feels awesome. Like how last year’s Sony exclusive Spider-Man authentically made you feel like the web-slinger, Anthem really does make you feel like you’ve suited up into an Ironman suit and took to the skies at breakneck speeds. Hovering in combat is super useful and cruising along the skyline is the best way to look at this game’s stunning world. But recently I realised, you don’t really do much when you’re flying except get from point A to B, and if it wasn’t for the conversations my friends and I have in this downtime, flying would get super boring super fast. So to keep the adrenaline pumping even on you 600th take off why not add a bit more danger to getting from point A to B? Flying armour on flying armour combat, or some mechanised dog fights, would be an insanely fun, dynamic, and challenging experiences that would help keep you on your toes for every second you are out of the safety of Fort Tarsis. Seeing two flying wizards shooting ice and lightning at each other whilst zipping through trees, or having a flood of missiles pour down from the sky in the aftermath of a dog fight would add so much more fun to the already glee-inducing gameplay, and would also add another much needed layer to the quickly becoming stale camp take down mission structure.
What is the most important thing about being a flying armoured space-superhero? If you answered “the powers” then you are close, but no cigar. What the actual answer is, is how damn cool you look whilst using those awe inspiring powers. One of the biggest draws in these shared-world experiences is creating your own identity through your avatar’s appearance, and quite frankly here there just aren’t enough options. While the suite of options you have to change the material, colours, and cleanliness of your Javelin is mind blowing, the choices in the actual pieces of gear that you are making the changes to is bafflingly restricted. As it goes now only one set of new armour for one class is available at a time before being replaced by another. This armour is only available through the use of two currencies, one you can slowly gain by playing, and the other you have to use your real world money to get. This limited time to buy model is clearly a way to pry and squeeze out every coin possible from the player, and while that is bad enough, especially coming from EA, what is even worse is that this method is kind of stupid. Surely if there were more options available, all of the time, for all of the classes more people (undoubtedly including myself) would find themselves reaching for their wallets a lot more often so they can get the final piece of armour they need to finally look more like Ironman. Outside of helping EA with its business, more options would also allow players to add more personality to their Javelins, investing them more in their suits of armour and making teaming up with people online more of a visual spectacle as you get to see all manner of combinations of armours and snazzy colour schemes. I just want to look cool Bioware, please.
Acknowledge Your Team in the Story
This one is a small one, but one that would make the whole experience feel a lot more cohesive, I think at least. In the story of Anthem it is played off that you are a lone freelancer who’s been without a real team ever since the catastrophic events of the opening mission. However, for a lot of us playing through the game with our mates awkwardly hovering behind us in the odd cutscene, that is not the case. One of the many complaints hurled at this game is its narrative dissonance. How life in the Fort and cutscenes never really cohesively jell with what is happening out in the wider world with your friends. And that is a huge shame with the pedigree behind Anthem’s story being the masterminds behind videogame’s premier space epic: the Mass Effect trilogy. What’s even worse is that there is an easy fix that is right in Bioware’s wheel house. Simply have the game recognise if you play regularly with friends, or currently have someone in your party, or even have the option for the player to choose if they want their team recognised by the story or want to be seen as the solo hero Anthem is so desperate for you to be. To many this change may feel like a meaningless addition, but having your squad be integrated into the game’s grand narrative would be another step into investing the player even more into the events of the missions.
Now this one is just plain obvious. Let’s be honest, Anthem’s endgame is a lot more shallow than we were promised, and with the beginning of their roadmap of extra content delayed due to the amount of bugs they’ve had to fix, that lack of content is only getting more and more painful. As of right now only one new stronghold has been added, thankfully free of charge though, and upon hitting the too low level cap of 30 the game gives you three more difficulty levels passed the already respectable hard mode. Replaying levels on these crushing modes has given the game more legs than I would have expected, but they definitely are not enough to carry most players to the first act of Bioware’s grand and late roadmap. What would do that without putting too much of a strain on the developers so the new content doesn’t get delayed even further? Simple weekly missions. I’m not talking about new areas, new bosses, or even new dialogue. These simple, weekly tasks could just be an area of the open world being infested with more Scars than usual and that is what the freelancers of Anthem have to tackle that week. Hell even have the natural difficulty ramp up through the week until a crescendo every Friday where a recycled mini boss appears ready to put up a great fight against the ranger’s shock baton and storm’s thundering powers. These weekly missions would help to keep things fresh for the regularly returning players, as well as give them a reason to remain regular.
And last, but not least, an addition I’m sure will come with time, but I just can’t wait, is we need more powers for our Javelins. I’m not talking about new Javelins, although I hope they will one day come too, I’m just talking about the abilities that are tethered to the shoulder buttons. As of now on each class there are two or three options for each button and only one ultimate. Don’t get me wrong, the powers available right now are badass and have filled countless hours with explosions that have literally made me and my friends scream with glee from how freakin’ cool they were. But after countless hours, seeing something new and shiny to equip to make an even bigger explosion is very enticing. Bioware have done a great job at distinguishing the classes, from the massive brute to the melee focused ninja, each suit makes the game feel like a completely new experience, but when you have a squad of four storm’s wrecking shop it can get quite repetitive seeing the same ultimate popping off every five or so minutes. So giving more than one option for the most powerful weapon in your Javelin’s inventory would definitely keep things interesting and help give players even more to strive towards when opening those precious loot chests.
What are the things that you most want added to Anthem? Did you also stick around for the pure fun of flying around an alien world as a badass superhero like I did? Voice your opinions in the comments down below and thank you for reading.