Anthem has had something of a bumpy ride since launch, I think that’s fair to say. Amidst various problems, some of which were amusing and others deeply worrying, the game seems not to have taken off quite right.
One month later, after my initial review and impressions, I’m taking another look to see what’s changed, what’s coming up and how Anthem plays in its current state.
Without further ado, let’s dive right in.
The Main Positives
Let’s start on a high note. There have been some really significant improvements to Anthem over the last month. Firstly, loot has been massively improved. Reddit might still tell you it’s broken, but in reality it’s vastly better than it was at launch.
Pointless inscriptions are largely gone, with weapon drops now much more likely to be beneficial to you and far less ‘throwaway gear’. There are still issues with loot, and I’ll be covering those shortly, but for now it feels much better to get loot than it did at launch. That good loot is also much more prevalent, and while the game isn’t dropping as much as we know it could, there’s a reasonably fair amount dropping in my opinion.
There have also been some substantial performance improvements, particularly to the Forge and loading screens. These are only going to get better with the next patch, too! Many of the mission-halting bugs and issues are now gone, though there are a few that still remain.
Nonetheless, Anthem still does an amazing job of delivering on its power fantasy. You really do feel like the badass iron-man suit you wanted to be, and reaching endgame to unlock Masterwork components genuinely feels great. There aren’t enough at the moment, but those will surely come in time.
The game is also undeniably visually stunning, and that hasn’t lost itself upon me yet. There are still moments when I have to stop and take in the surroundings for a second. In terms of its visuals, Anthem is incredible. Weapon effects are great, abilities look powerful and the details in the game are mind-blowing at times.
The Main Negatives
Now onto the not-so-good bits. Now I want it to be known that I mean these as constructive criticism, but they are genuine problems, nonetheless, and need to be highlighted. Anthem has ironed out a good deal of its issues since launch, but an alarming amount still remain.
Combat, in general, still lacks punch. This is fundamentally ‘in’ the game now, and I doubt it will ever change, but enemy sponginess and floaty abilities and gunplay are still annoying. They serve to remind us of the grind, and increase frustrations while reducing player-engagement with the core element of Anthem – the combat itself.
Sound is also still not quite right. The disappearing sound bug seems to have finally been slain, but issues still remain. In big fights, when lots of sound effects are happening simultaneously, the game seems to lose control for a moment and some sounds are lost. That’s a shame, because the sound effects are great, and I want to hear all of them!
Feedback in combat is also still a big issue. Some of the problems with being hit by snipers are gone, but enemy bullets will still happily curve around and over surfaces to hit you. Enemies are also oddly silent, meaning you never really know if something is behind you or out of sight. And you never can tell if something is actually going to hit you or not, sometimes it just feels like luck. I’d like the projectiles to be…well, projectiles. Hitscan enemies shouldn’t exist. I’d also quite like to see I-frames when dodging, and some stagger-resistance during ability casts, because there’s nothing worse than getting sniped out of your lightning-fast blink-strike by some super-sniper with a vengeance.
And we arrive at end-game, where sadly there’s… not a lot. The end-game loop still revolves around largely repeating one activity, which is Tyrant’s Mine. It’s the most efficient way to get loot, and by this point, the most boring, too. There are more features coming soon to pad out end-game a little though, which I’ll discuss shortly.
We still have issues with vault size, which simply needs to be increased. 250 items is actually not that many, especially if you want to play all the javelins at end-game.
That brings me onto items in general, where it has to be noted that something really odd is going on with damage scaling. Reddit user u/Termperhoof did some digging and found that you could actually do some really janky things, like equipping only a single Legendary item to increase your average power massively.
Power scaling in general is clearly broken, between that and the Lvl1 assault rifle problems last patch, health-scaling issues and beyond. We’ve been promised fixes coming soon, but I’m almost certain that there’s something fundamentally flawed beneath the hood with damage scaling in general.
Finally, the cosmetics store just saw new items added for the first time this week, since launch. That’s lovely, but when games like Fortnite are adding news skins every few days I can’t help but feel like there’s a lot of wasted potential here. Javelins could be customised in all sorts of ways. I’m sure the design team has a mountain of artwork, ideas and concepts that could be added to the game and we would almost certainly buy them.
As it stands, I currently have every cosmetic in the game that I want (we’ve seen them all rotate at least a few times now), and I haven’t spent a penny. That’s good news for players I guess, but I’ve said before that I’d love to spend money on good cosmetics. I’m also sure than Bioware would quite like that too, so I just don’t see why there aren’t more. Even one or two new skins a week would be great, but so far just two new sets in an entire month. I appreciate that they are incredibly detailed and must take a huge amount of time to develop, I just want to see more, and I think most players share that sentiment.
As I’ve hinted at so far, there are a number of big changes coming to Anthem soon. As early as within a week, as per the stream schedule and last patch. The recent live stream discussed quite a few new things, and a lot of it looks great.
Firstly, new Legendary-tier missions will become available. These have high-level enemies, which suggests a good chance of decent loot. There are going to be six, with one playable every day. These missions will end in a big boss fight, which sounds awesome. Also, no talking to NPC’s required; these are good, old-fashioned ‘come back every day’ missions. Love it.
There are also going to be some new components coming that function almost as mini-masterwork buffs. The example given on stream was a shotgun-buffing component that primed the target with the acid effect. That seems pretty damn cool and inevitably leads to more build diversity and loot!
The devs also spoke about upcoming Elysian Caches, which will drop actual cosmetics and embers. These will be found at the end of Strongholds, and can only be opened with keys from Daily Challenges. They seem to be really encouraging diversity in your play here, with rewards for doing different kinds of missions, and that’s really great. Whether there will actually be new cosmetics to earn or not, remains to be seen…
And finally, we have further performance improvements, including instant access to the Forge from anywhere in Fort Tarsis – with no loading screen. Awesome.
Overall these sound like great changes, and I can’t wait to see them implemented.
But What’s Still Missing?
Nonetheless, Anthem is still outright missing a few keys features. I’d like to see more Strongholds for sure, in additional to more equipment options. They seem to be adding them slowly, so if they could keep that up it’d be great. Hell, give us more Javelins too! A guy can hope, right?
We are also still eagerly awaiting more ways to communicate in-game. What kind of game launches in 2019, on PC, without waypoints or a chat function? That seems obvious, and Anthem desperately needs those features.
Finally, there’s still a ton of room to give us more story. It sounds like more should be on the way, but I still feel like we’re missing the deep dive into Anthem’s world that the game really deserves. There’s a ton of potential there, and frankly… I just want to see more Owen!
Alright, that’s going to be it for today’s Anthem ‘One Month Later’ update. It looks like there’s a good amount coming our way, and that makes me super excited. Nonetheless, the game is still missing a lot and a good number of features are still wonky or outright broken. The game still has a lot of growing to do. However, if the devs keep on top of communicating the changes, we can be sure to see Anthem grow into something incredible, it’s just clearly taking time.
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Thanks for stopping by, I’ve been FaultyOptics (you can follow me on twitter @Faulty_Optics), and I’ll see you all next time for more gaming guides and news.
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