When Anthem was first announced in 2017, I immediately jumped on the “no way” bandwagon. At the time, while I continued to harbor mixed if mostly positive vibes for Mass Effect: Andromeda, I was mostly suffering from open-world fatigue. I just couldn’t see myself investing in yet another large scale and potential meandering space/adventure/combat game, especially one that looked an awful lot like the always-online type.
Here we are now, just a couple months from the game’s actual release, and have my feelings changed?
A few months ago, Hatm0nster wrote an article here about how he was feeling cautiously optimistic about Anthem. I think I’m in the “just cautious” boat. Its latest trailers have revealed more about the people in the game, and this is what really has me rethinking my stance. Despite gameplay (and larger) missteps of the past, BioWare knows storytelling. Do you think I, and I dare say many of us, replayed Mass Effect over and over because we liked the clunky combat system and repetitive environments? Well, maybe some of us did. But for me it was all about the cast. Living vicariously through my own Commander Shepards within a grand space adventure that was populated with caring, and not-so-caring, souls. The story and characters were the hook; everything else was just everything else.
Video from YouTube user Anthem Game.
The same is certainly true of the BioWare’s Dragon Age series. In it they crafted such deep and compelling lore that one would be hard-pressed to find an equal in that regard that’s not from the Dungeons & Dragons universe. Even just as far as these two game series go, their stories live well beyond the games in books, fan faction, fan art, and all the other mediums to which we all geek out.
It’s bold, and probably smart at this point for BioWare to step outside its comfortable abode in giving the world Anthem. Given the general landscape of gaming now, there’s no reason for them to not step into the online ring, à la Destiny. There’s no reason for them to not present some mech-filled action, à la Titanfall. If BioWare successfully saturates Anthem with its own brand of storytelling magic, it’ll undoubtedly have a hit on its hands.
That “if” is a big one. And it’s what’s making me remain on the fence about Anthem. While I’ve waved a personal goodbye to the “no way” bandwagon, without regret, I just can’t make myself jump on the “yes definitely” one yet. Truth be told, sadly, it’s becoming harder and harder these days, at least with triple-A titles, to trust that you’ll be getting the game that you both expect and want on day one. In this case, I’m pretty sure that I won’t be playing Anthem next month, but I no longer intend to completely write it off as I once did. If it plays well and offers up a thrilling story, I’ll be more than willing to give it a try at a later date. Perhaps in…February 2020?
What game releases of 2019 are you most interested in? Are there any major ones that you remain unsure about despite the hype?
Lede image from Anthem press kit, © Bioware (2018).