NOT An Anthem Review


Art by Empanada.

I had so much fun with Anthem beta, that this was supposed to be a full review of the game.

It isn’t.

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?  

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  • Carvj94

    OK. So when people say “this game isn’t fun without friends” what they mean to say is “this game isn’t fun.” Cause the fun you feel when playing with friends is the fact that your hanging out with friends. The game is completely separate from that and is just as not fun with friends. You just don’t mind it cause your friends are there. I would prefer if people never reviewed multi-player games when the reviewer only played with friends cause it’s disingenuous to the actual quality of the gameplay. That is to say there are plenty of multi-player games that are fun when solo but they often get lumped in with ones that are “fun with friends” in user review and it’s really annoying as a consumer trying to figure out a game I want to buy when I know not all my time will be spent playing with friends.

    Anyways. Good review. Just cause it’s multi-player doesn’t mean it doesn’t need fun single player aspects.

    March 25, 2019 at 3:13 AM
  • hektikheck

    Mass Effect died for this.

    March 25, 2019 at 9:44 AM
  • Alot

    Whenever people compare things to destiny, I feel they miss the more obvious comparison of comparing it to Warframe. Anthem and Destiny are much more similar games and their damage systems are more similar in the sense that damage is balanced – whereas in Warframe, extreme endgame builds do ludicrous amounts of damage and insta-gib nearly anything.

    Anthem was an extremely polished, smol piece of world. I just couldn’t justify the expense of buying the game for such a short lived piece of content, which I’d need to sink days worth of grinding into, when I could get an experience in the same genre (of high quality (which is massive (and is updated regularly))) for free -.-

    With titles like path of exile, lol, warframe and hearthstone out in the wilderness I only look to games which offer something different, not a short lived “improved experience” I’m supposed to sink my wallet into.

    March 25, 2019 at 10:01 AM