E3 doesn’t officially start until a few days from now, but that doesn’t stop big publishers from opening the week with a big shiny press conference. The big thing that many fans were probably waiting for though is probably Anthem, the shared world shooter announced by developer Bioware at last year’s E3.
Today, the Canadian studio went in-depth on the game, supplying a huge amount of new details regarding gameplay and story, as well as a release date: February 22 for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Bioware reiterated what we know, that Anthem is on online multiplayer role-playing game to be played solo or with friends.
Anthem places you upon an unnamed planet where the “old gods” left behind their weapons and technology. Humanity struggles to survive on a “savage,” unfinished world, and at the tip of the spear are the Freelancers. The Freelancers seek to tip the balance in mankind’s favor with their incredible Javelin exosuits, though they also take hazard pay in exchange for their services.
As one of these Freelancers, you can customize your Javelin loadout across four classes: the Colossus, the Ranger, the Interceptor or the Storm classes. Each have different specializations that include varying proficiencies with weapons, flight capability and ranged attacks using technology and/or space magic.
Bioware said Anthem is built to accommodate new stories whenever and however it wants in the future, and basically doubles down on what we already know: EA and BioWare want this game to last for years, like Activision’s Destiny or Ubisoft’s The Division. It remains to be seen whether Anthem can achieve that kind of longevity.
Bioware is best known for single-player RPGs like Mass Effect and Dragon Age, so it’s foray into an online-first experience is certainly new territory for them. Recent games like Dragon Age: Inquisition have included some multiplayer, but Anthem represents a coming together of various aborted attempts to create multiplayer experiences.
Still, the developer assures that Anthem will have the focus on story-driven content they’re known for, and much talk has been kicked around about making story click within the multiplayer context. As for the moment-to-moment gameplay loop, players track down large monsters after taking quests from NPCs in town hubs, a la Destiny.
To many, Anthem represents a sort of mea culpa for EA and Bioware, with the latter still reeling from widespread disappointment over Mass Effect: Andromeda and the former dealing with the embers of controversy over Star Wars Battlefront II. Already, EA is trying to assure us its next big game is as appealing as can be: there will be no loot boxes or pay for power advantages, only paid cosmetics.