Shiny and New – Customization Options
An important feature of games these days is customization; The ability to express yourself through your appearance to look like a total badass. Mass Effect’s customization was rather lackluster, to say the least, however, BioWare has stepped up their game and offered a whole host of new options to make you stand out in combat. There are six individual sections of a Javelin to be colored and given unique layers. These are three “hard” and three “soft” spots, designated by the which parts are armor and which are soft fabrics. These do not restrict what kind of material you can layer, they are simply suggestions. When selecting a slot there is an incredible amount of cosmetic layers to apply with any number of fabrics and metals you can consider as well as patterns and designs. These, in turn, can then be colored using a color wheel to get the exact shade you want. When selecting a metal layer, you’ll also get the option of metallic tinges to apply.
Javelin’s have four regions of armor customization: the head, chest, arms, and legs. These add a variety of armor pieces to shape the javelin’s design. You’ll also be able to layer how much damage/weathering appears on your suit as well so metals can be rusted, chipped, or scratched and fabrics can be stained or torn. If you don’t want to bother with your own color scheme, Anthem also offers a large variety of unlockable decals that will put a unique paint job on the entire javelin. These can be unlocked through special achievements and worn as a badge of honor of sorts. It is also important to note that the armor pieces you choose are ENTIRELY cosmetic – they will not affect stats and therefore you can make your suit look any way you want.
And finally, players will get to select from a wide variety of taunt, landing, and victory animations. Taunts are used of course as silly emotes whenever you feel like, victory animations happen at the end of a mission, and landing animations will occur whenever you, well, land. These too will be unlockable through progression although the ones we have seen are fantastic.
Grab a Buddy and Fly! – Multiplayer
When Anthem was announced one of the big questions was multiplayer; this is a squad based game, but how does it all work? The entirety of Anthem can be played single player (although this will be much more difficult) and so Anthem can be played with up to four people in a squad, allowing for – but not limiting you to – one of each javelin on the team. While there have been people asking about PvP I say to you- NO, STOP IT! Anthem is a game very much about cooperation and BioWare wants to drive home a strong narrative inside a shared world experience. As soon as PvP comes in you then have frequent updates for balancing issues and days upon days of grinding for loot and just no. No.
Once players enter Fort Tarsis the game is a single player affair. This is where you’ll pick up missions, talk to your crew, sell loot, etc. Any and all multiplayer activity takes place in the open world where you can complete missions or simply freeroam together and explore, taking on bands of enemies and gigantic monsters.
Behind the Scenes – Who made the game?
The largest recurring argument I hear against Anthem is that this is an EA game which means they are bound to screw you over, followed by “Look what BioWare did to Mass Effect Andromeda!” So let’s set the record straight on a few things. The team that developed the Mass Effect trilogy began work on Anthem immediately after the release of Mass Effect 3. While BioWare did, in fact, make Andromeda, it’s similar to how the team from Assassin’s Creed Black Flag worked on Assassin’s Creed Origins and not the games in between. Let that sink in for a moment, you should already feel a glimmer of hope. While many have compared Anthem to being like Destiny, this timeline means Anthem was in development before Destiny’s initial release and so with that extended development time they’ve had the opportunity to take their idea and compare it with what works – and more importantly, what doesn’t work – in Destiny to give us a greater experience.
While EA has apologized for its previous transgressions and promised to change, it’s important to note that BioWare staff have remained in control of Anthem through and through. They were upfront about announcing microtransactions (NOT loot boxes) and clarified this would ONLY be for cosmetics that were otherwise unlockable in the game. The aforementioned decals and large variety of materials that can be applied to your javelin are unlocked through gameplay, these transactions will simply let you get the ones you want sooner and in no way alter gameplay. They have been clear and adamant about this fact as microtransactions are definitely a hot-button issue, especially around the name EA.
Why it’s Okay to be Concerned
Anthem might not be for everyone. I know I am looking forward to its release and can’t wait to give up an unhealthy portion of my life to its glorious and beautiful existence, but not everyone is in the same boat as I am. We’ve all been burned by EA at one point and history shows they aren’t particularly good at learning from past mistakes, so it’s okay to be cautious about the release of Anthem. BioWare is doing its best to put out any flames of concern and they really want this to be the title we deserve, and from what I see, it’s shaping up to be a fantastic experience with a real powerhouse narrative like only BioWare can deliver. While you may not be sold on the game yet, it would be a big mistake to outright dismiss it’s potential. I can’t wait to jump into a Javelin and blast my way through the skies, and I hope to see you there with me.