Anthem VIP Demo Impressions
After bursting on the scene with a less than stellar first appearance, the Anthem VIP Demo has come to a close. Those who pre-ordered the game were treated to an exclusive first look at what BioWare’s new shared world co-op experience has to offer with whatever progress and loot earned carrying over to the upcoming free open demo and presumably the final game next month. Servers crashed and experienced brutal lag from the overwhelming number of players trying to get a peek of the action, but for those who were unable – or too skeptical to put money down on the game – We have a breakdown of what the demo had to offer and what it might mean come time for the games full release.
1. Lag and Load Times
Let’s be real, the first day of the 3-day demo was abysmal at best. Launching at 9am PST, the game wasn’t playable until 10pm. A peace offering was made in the form of a free Javelin skin, but that is still a lot of lost time when the people simply asked for an additional day. Once the game was accessible the load times were ridiculous to say the least, often taking roughly three minutes for a loading screen to finish – as long as you didn’t encounter the dreaded “95%” in which the game had to be closed and reopened to play. Luckily, the game remembered what you were doing and will start you off in the instance you intended to play. Much of this is due to the bugs and issues BioWare hopefully worked out, but we can’t help but wonder if those load times are typical.
We were promised a fair amount of cosmetics and the demo delivered, showing us just enough to whet our appetite for what’s to come. Each of the Javelin’s had a set of rare armor that could be purchased for 25 coins per piece, the color wheel and roughly 20 material types were available for use as well as five decals available for purchase. This may have only been a fraction of what Anthem will offer in the way of cosmetics but I never saw two Javelins who looked even remotely similar in my 10+ hours of playing. This system of cosmetic enhancement reminded me heavily of Warframe but the optional armor pieces felt like natural additions to the exo-suit instead of some sort of wild peacocking. They felt purpose-built and brought an aesthetic of being futuristic yet functional and industrial. Customization was easy to use and the more that gets unlocked, the more time I know I will sink into making my Javelin look awesome.
A large portion of my time was spent in Free Play, floating through the skies of Bastion looking for hidden chests and random events. Playing with a friend of mine, there were serious rubber-banding issues that detracted from the experience for the first half hour or so before it was fixed. Flight feels incredible as you learn tricks to cool down, extend the life of your jets as they overheat, and dodge incoming fire. Exploring Bastion was even more exciting than the trailers make it seem as you find hidden caves, lakes to dive deep in, and amazing verticality I hadn’t seen before in a game, however, the map, compass bar, and general tracking was horrible and misused, to say the least. Waypoints could not be set, objectives often appeared only on the compass bar as opposed to an on-screen marker, and once another player was a moderate distance away they disappeared from your screen, forcing you to land and look at your map to find them again. This is a big, complex world and that map system needs a serious overhaul.