The Launch of Anthem has been arguably one of the most hotly-debated and discussed AAA-game launches for a long time. It’s extremely rare that such a big budget game comes out and causes such a stir, both within its own community and the wider gaming community.
It’s undeniable, however, that such a launch has had a negative impact on the image of Bioware and has brought into question their ability to produce games to the standard of the early Mass-Effect games, even more so than ME: Andromeda could have done.
Today, we’re going to be taking a look at the problems Bioware is facing and what they need to do to reset onto the right path.
Anthem Needs Some Serious Work
Anthem’s launch was pretty disastrous. Whether you came into the game at the earlier launch date for those with Origin/EA Access or a week later after the patch, Anthem was still incredibly buggy. Issues like completely cutting audio, and causing a full restart, have been present since the VIP demo and have continued to plague players. This is one example of an issue that displays two worrying things about Anthem’s current state.
Firstly, it epitomizes the ‘rushed’ feeling of the launch. These sort of things are nearly always down to the publisher’s pressure that has been received, and it does look like Anthem was pushed forward in order to release in time to reinforce EA’s shaky 2018 financial year. Nonetheless, this bug (and many others) were explicitly reported during the beta/demo period and have still yet to be fixed.
This brings me onto my second issue, which is the delay in response time. For some issues, Bioware has been extremely fast to respond, but that still leaves a good number unresolved. Players should absolutely not have to periodically restart their game in order to have sound, nor should PS4 players be dealing with full-console crashes, or players be unable to be revived in missions. Some might argue that these are all symptoms of a new game, and largely they are, but Bioware is a big team and should be able to respond to large-scale bugs quickly and efficiently.
That isn’t happening fast enough right now, and while I’m sure the fixes are coming, it’s a sorry state of affairs to watch Anthem haemorrhage players frustrated with these issues before fixes arrive. This is the nature of live-service games, but Anthem has steep competition right now, and it absolutely needs to respond to bugs and issues as quickly as possible to retain its player-base.
Bioware is a fully AAA-studio, and should have the resources to solve these bugs. I’m not a game developer and I don’t know how long these things actually take, but I am a player and I am a customer, and I can say that it’s incredibly frustrating to deal with these problems until they are fixed. They should have been fixed in the demo, but here we still are with no audio, waiting to be revived.
Something about the Storytelling Feels OFF
For me, one of the most alarming issues about Anthem in regards to Bioware’s touch is the story. Bioware has always been a studio famed for its ability to seamlessly meld gameplay and story elements into one continuous flow. Players of Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and even The Old Republic will have distinct memories of being part of those stories. They made decisions, they interacted with the game’s characters, and they learned about the world and felt truly a part of it.
That feeling is absent in Anthem. In an absolutely beautiful world, with hints at a compelling history, and a cast of really lifelike characters, the player is a soundboard for nothing. Their contributions to conversation are meaningless pleasantries in order to continue the info-vomit of the NPCs. Bioware had enormous potential with Anthem’s story and has thus-far failed to embrace that potential. With free narrative DLC’s coming our way, hopefully we will get our hands on more well-baked pieces of Anthem’s narrative, but until then Anthem’s recipe for story is simply leaving a bitter taste in the mouth.
I’ve said as much in my full Anthem review, but it really does need to be said that stories of this kind, and merging it with gameplay, has always been Bioware’s strength. In Anthem, it’s one of the game’s real weaknesses, and that is a serious cause for concern.
Players Need Something to DO
Right now, when a player reaches level 30 in Anthem and that is when the game itself should really open up. For games like Diablo, the Division, and Destiny, reaching max level is really only the beginning of the game itself. Meanwhile, Anthem’s Endgame is, unfortunately, lacking in the extreme.
The primary activity at Endgame is running Strongholds, of which there are currently three. However, one of them is significantly easier than the others, leading to the exclusion of the other two as players stick to the most efficient way of farming loot. This happens in all looter-shooters, but in Anthem the feeling of stagnation in content is particularly prevalent.
We’ve been promised more Endgame in the pipeline, but as previously mentioned with the bugs being fixed, players are frustrated here and now. Most are preoccupying themselves with creating builds, and I have to admit that doing so is a lot of fun and presents a lot of potential for Endgame.
Despite that, there’s really nothing to build for right now, as the difficulty scaling is so broken. Nearly all players are sticking to Grandmaster 1, as they can complete it so much faster than the higher difficulties that it’s simply the most efficient way to run the Strongholds. With no leaderboards or guilds, and no timers or competitive challenges either, it really does feel like the only reason to get better loot is to… get better loot.
Players need something real to work towards, and right now, it simply isn’t there. Bioware is going to find itself releasing more content to a host of players who have already moved on to playing The Division 2, or the huge variety of other games to spend your time with in the coming months.
Listen to Industry Experts – Or Even Just the Players
Ultimately, Bioware’s current issue seems to be a break in the reciprocal feedback loop that should be evident in any live-service game. Player’s want to feel part of a community, and Bioware seemed to be doing a great job communicating up to launch. Developers have been working their asses off to answer questions on Twitter, and even commenting on Reddit posts and videos.
Meanwhile, post-launch, that feedback loop seems to have disconnected. I don’t blame Bioware, I’d be retracting my customer-facing dialogue too if I was facing the kind of abuse that I’ve seen some players dishing out, but they still need to address concerns and speak out.
At the same time, this week, two incidents have highlighted the same issue. Diablo 3 dev Travis Day spoke out about what Anthem needs, and that is largely to be more generous with its loot. Meanwhile, streamer and Anthem player Gladd was banned, accused of exploiting the game in order to earn more loot. Those are two separate issues for sure, but the timing of them in the same week highlights a further disconnect with Bioware.
When Destiny 2 had issues with exploits and farming, they stepped forward and took the blame, fixing those issues as quickly as possible, but allowing players to keep what they earned (and not banning them, of course). Perhaps the issue of feedback and response is also one of blame? Bioware is creating a looter-shooter here, and players will always look for the most efficient way to earn loot. They need to accept that and patch up the holes in their content without passing blame onto the community of players.
Bioware Needs to Step Up
Bioware need to embrace that feedback loop. They need to learn that being part of a live-service demands constant attention and response in order to stay connected to an increasingly-divided community. They need to address their issues and show us what they are doing in order to take steps forward in delivering the game that we all want Anthem to be.
That all also needs to happen quickly and efficiently, preferably before Anthem has lost all of its player-base to other titles and competition. I can’t stress enough how much I want Anthem to succeed, but Bioware is in trouble right now, and it really needs to address its issues and move forward before it loses its trust and reputation completely.
That’s it for today’s discussion, thanks for taking the time to watch. Don’t forget to Like and Subscribe for more Anthem discussion and guides coming right up. And this is a discussion video, so please comment below, let us know how you feel about Anthem and Bioware right now.
Thanks for stopping by. I’m FaultyOptics, and I’ll see you all next time for more gaming guides and news.