Anthem hasn’t gotten off to a very good start, with review scores averaging to a grim 61 at the time of writing. Our own impressions of the game were that it offers a solid foundation with plenty of potential that is currently held back by a lack of content, repetitive quests, grinding, and a host of technical issues.
The disappointing void of substance in Anthem is a familiar story for shared-world shooters, one that we’ve seen time and time again in this increasingly popular space of the multiplayer gaming scene.
It’s become almost begrudgingly accepted that many of today’s games release as a barebones package to be added to at a later date — sometimes intentionally, sometimes not; in some cases, they’ve been transformed into terrific games, while others have been too far gone to save.
And so BioWare today begins its “Live Service” for Anthem. Chad Robertson, head of Anthem’s Live service announced the developer’s intention to fine-tune and add fresh content to the game over the coming months.
The statement from Robertson is carefully worded to reflect the developer’s a genuine commitment to player experience, citing Anthem’s latest patch –you know, the one that basically fixed a huge list of technical issues– as a result of player and developer collaboration:
“As a Live Service team, a core tenet for us is listening hard to the community. We use that insight to fix issues and make Quality of Life fixes to the game. Our most recent patch – the one you are playing now — reflects your feedback… Many came from listening to you.”
It’s clear both he and BioWare are desperate to remind us that they’re in this for the long haul and steadfast in their intention to make Anthem the best game it can be. I honestly don’t doubt that, and I understand the need to highlight the word “gamer” in Roberston’s message, as he refers to himself almost as one of us — it’s an attempt to build rapport with a disgruntled audience.
However, I do find the content roadmap far too vague, and where it tries to excite with promises of future content, it actually ends up irritating by teasing content that probably should have been in the game from the start.
If you haven’t already seen the plan, it lists three upcoming updates/patches called “Acts” in March, and then there are a further two “Acts” underneath with a locked symbol. Presumably, then, BioWare has three months of support loosely penciled in thus far.
So what are we getting that sounds so dubious?
The three updates are called Evolving World, Stronger Together, and The Cataclysm. They’re launching in that order; what they actually comprise isn’t divulged in any great detail.
In brief, BioWare plans to make the environment more interesting, improve “social interaction” between players, and add a new event.
Now, I understand the nature of an MMO, a “live game” — it’s a constantly evolving experience that adds content and depth as time goes on by nature of its design. Updates are to be expected, and a roadmap is something to be celebrated. But to me, the above all sounds like content that should have been there at launch.
It sounds like the missing features that basically holds Anthem back from being a quality video game. Especially because March is, well, a week away and basically everything the roadmap speaks of –a largely hollow and bland open world, a strangely lonely co-operative experience, and far too many repetitive and grindy quests– are complaints found in virtually every published Anthem review.
I have no idea whether Anthem’s launch was rushed. My assumption would be that was indeed the case. It doesn’t feel like a finished product and it doesn’t have the promised depth of story that BioWare assured us it would. What I do know is that it’s yet another shared-world shooter that makes the same mistakes as games like Destiny and Sea of Thieves, and I’d hoped we were past that.