There’s plenty of reason for skepticism with BioWare’s new IP.
I’ve become increasingly more skeptical about games shown off at E3 and other major gaming events as I’ve gotten older. Too many times I’ve seen games unable to live up to a standard established in their marketing campaigns. In recent years, we’ve seen developers try to bring an MMO-style game to consoles with Ubisoft’s The Division and Bungie’s Destiny. Now it appears that BioWare is next on that train with Anthem.
Personally, I think this is just a garbage genre of games. It’s somewhere between a generic shooter and an MMO, without really doing either one well. These games are generally nothing more than a hollow loot shooter with little to no depth. There’s no compelling story and the gameplay is too generic to really be fun. Destiny plays exactly like any other shooter and effectively copy/pasted Halo’s combat while The Division was just an all around bad game with terrible systems. The only reason to play these games is to grind your face against a wall in hopes that maybe you’ll loot something with marginally better stats, not because you actually enjoy the content. Now look, that’s my personal opinion. If you like those games and you enjoy playing them then have at it. But I really don’t think there’s much to offer from this genre.
It really disappoints me that Anthem is going to be one of these kinds of games. I was really hoping BioWare was just straight up developing a new RPG to mix in with Mass Effect and Dragon Age. Great singleplayer journeys with terrific characters and strong storytelling is why people love BioWare. Instead, we’re getting a game that literally looks like a Destiny clone and even uses the exact same format that The Division used in its official gameplay releases to show off its cooperative play. I’m not saying that Anthem will automatically suck, but I don’t think this genre holds up outside of its hardcore playerbase and I wonder about how good the game will actually be.
To be fair, there are some things going in the right direction for Anthem. Visually, the game looks gorgeous. Again, all we’ve seen so far is some pre-rendered gameplay and we’ve got some time to go before it releases. It certainly wouldn’t be the first game to ever go through a visual downgrade and I do wonder how it will actually look when you’re playing the final version of the game. It’s also now official that Drew Karpyshyn, senior writer for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and lead writer for Mass Effect 1 & 2, will be writing the story for Anthem. BioWare’s had its ups and downs recently but their track record is good enough that Anthem will be worthy of at least getting a chance when the time comes.
On a somewhat related note, I’m also just a bit salty about Anthem’s existence at all. What did BioWare show us at E3 this week? A gorgeous sci-fi game that has apparently put some serious effort into its story? Gee, that sounds familiar. Mass Effect: Andromeda was shifted to BioWare’s Montreal studio so that their Edmonton studio could create Anthem. Why does Anthem even have to exist? Why isn’t this game just the next step in the Mass Effect series? Mass Effect literally died for this, so BioWare better have made it count.