Art by Empanada.
I had so much fun with Anthem beta, that this was supposed to be a full review of the game.
There’s a lot to like about Bioware’s latest title, but in the days leading up to release, the more I thought about buying the game, the less excited I got. So, instead of dropping $59.99 (US) on a game I wasn’t sure about, I spent a lot of time thinking about why my interest cooled so rapidly.
No Fun Without Friends
The simple truth is that Anthem feels like Bioware’s (unnecessary) answer to Destiny. While that doesn’t make for a bad game – or a good one – it does inform the experience. I played through Destiny 2 when it came out, and while there was a lot to like about that game, much of the fun was muted by the fact that I didn’t have any friends the share the experience with.
The same expectation tempered my excitement about Anthem.
During the beta, I played with a full team. That meant better communication, tighter teamwork, and a shared experience. But, while I felt appeased by what Anthem had to offer, none of my friends felt the same way, which meant I’d be the only one buying it.
I spent time playing Anthem without friends, and the lack of communication and real, cohesive teamwork with random players meant missions would be frustrating rather than fun. Add that to the fact that the game discourages solo play, and the reality of the type of game I’d be forced to play gave me flashbacks of how hollow Destiny 2 felt despite the volume of content.
Picking and Choosing
The older I get, the more discerning I’m forced to be with the time available to me. And that means being very picky with the games I choose to buy.
Solo titles are simple, but it’s the multiplayer games that pose a challenge.
Developers are pushing towards the incorporation of multiplayer into their games. Even Bethesda’s jumped on the bandwagon with Fallout 76, and there have been rumors that Cyberpunk 2077 will include some sort of multiplayer component. But when gaming time is limited, which ones to play isn’t necessarily a solitary decision.
My wife, now an avid PC gamer, enjoys multiplayer as much as I, so her dislike of Anthem heavily informed my decision to pass on the title. After all, why do I want to play it alone, with random squad members, when I could play a number of other titles with her and a handful of friends?
The answer is simple – I don’t.
All for One
For years now, group decision making has played a large role in what multiplayer games I purchase. Something that appeals to only one or two members of the group takes a back seat to titles that five or six of us might want to play. And that means we have a pretty full roster of games ready depending on how many people are available and what the prevailing mood is on any given night.
For strategy, we look to Civilizations VI or Stellaris. For survival, it’s 7 Days to Die. For crafting, we start a game of Factorio. And if multiplayer action is what we’re after, Deep Rock Galactic, Rainbow Six Siege, and PUBG have what we’re looking for.
While none of these titles are as shiny or new as Anthem, they’re (mostly) solid offerings that provide just as much content, and enjoyment, at a fraction of the price.
All That Glitters
Anthem is another offering in the loot-shooter genre that I’m still not sure was needed. Bioware’s credentials are wasted on it (much like how Bungie’s feels wasted on the Destiny franchise). Looking at the dearth of criticism surrounding the game in the past few weeks definitely hasn’t helped. Nor have rumors of a potential Borderlands 3 announcement at PAX East later this month.
At the end of the day, as alluring as Anthem felt during the beta, it just wasn’t compelling enough to grab me or my friends. And it says a lot when we’d rather pay $10 per month for a dedicated 7 Days to Die server (a game we’ve each sank hundreds of hours into) than drop $59.99 (each) on copies of the game.
Doesn’t that say enough?