Fans of the Mass Effect series may still be licking their wounds after the widespread disappointment that came from the franchise’s latest title. Many players forked over their cash with the expectations that Mass Effect: Andromeda would be one of the best sci-fi action RPGs to hit current gen consoles. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case and instead Andromeda proved to be a game with a serious amount of potential but a lackluster execution that made it difficult to really care about what the game could have been.
Little did anyone know that E3 2017 would not only show us what Andromeda could have (and should have) been, but it would also give us a sneak peek at where BioWare’s resources seemed to really be during the game’s development. If you were ever wondering how BioWare could have let Andromeda reach the public’s hands with sloppy animations, no improvements to its troublesome inventory system, plenty of missed bugs and a story that seemed to drag its feet, it’s because they were busy making Anthem the game Mass Effect never was.
From what we have seen in our first glimpses of Anthem, it is the carefully crafted piece of art that everyone expected Andromeda to be. The reveal trailer unveiled a jaw-droppingly beautiful world that felt truly immersive and seems to be teeming with otherworldly ecosystems. While our time spent watching players run through a mission was short, it was enough to provide a solid look at just how smooth we can expect the Anthem experience to be. While the Ranger type exo-suit and Colossus type exo-suit fit into different classes, one being an all around balanced option and the other being a tank-like option, both suits moved with a stunning sense of grace as both players navigated their way through a jungle-like landscape. It’s a stark contrast to some of the clunky movements that too often rear their heads in Andromeda.
To be fair, Mass Effect’s earlier titles are worthy of praise but there are also many times where they feel devoid of purpose and reward. Completing missions tends to feel a bit anti-climactic while Anthem is coming right out the gate promoting the idea that decisions and achievements will matter here. After all, the cinematic trailer specifically warns players to “live with the choices you make or die trying to change them.” This is not the land of busy work and, despite using the term “freelancers,” Anthem seems to offer more purpose than being an errand boy. In other words, the game will likely be devoid of meaningless quests that just serve as a distraction, though only time will truly tell.
But the true gem in all of this is that Anthem will finally give us the multiplayer experience that fans of the Mass Effect series always hoped would emerge one day. BioWare took a few different approaches to making its multiplayer modes actually intertwine with the game’s campaign but those are largely remembered as failed attempts. Mass Effect 3 received a barrage of harsh criticism online after it was revealed that unlocking the best possible ending required gamers to raise their “Galactic Readiness” through the game’s multiplayer mode. Despite making multiplayer a requirement for a key component of a player’s campaign experience, the multiplayer side of things did very little for the single player experience. This is perhaps where Anthem really starts to shine. There is simply no denying the appeal of an online multiplayer third-person shooter that borrows goodies from the Mass Effect series while completely shunning some of the franchise’s missteps. This is in no way a suggestion that the Mass Effect series isn’t one worthy of praise—particularly when it comes to the earlier titles. There is quite a bit to admire about the series and even a disappointing addition like Andromeda won’t be enough for the series to fizzle out.
The different game genres here make it clear that Anthem will never replace or detract from Mass Effect so long as resources are allocated a bit more efficiently the next time around. But even the most dedicated fan of shipping extra terrestrial creatures has, at one point or another, wished that Mass Effect’s golden days could be relived on a current gen console with stunning visuals, all while your friends join your side to help you mow down hordes of powerful creatures and otherworldly foes. Complete with fully customizable exo-suits, online in-game events, a variety of weapons that can be collected and earned throughout the game and a beautiful landscape for it all to unfold around, Anthem simply feels like the Mass Effect game of our wildest dreams.
Now let’s all hope it lives up to the hype come 2018.