EA and BioWare’s looter-shooter endeavor, Anthem, had a rocky start and has consistently tried to correct its previous mistakes. From game-breaking bugs at launch to repetitive, lackluster gameplay, Anthem needed an overhaul, and fast. After a year of smaller patches and in-game events, the developer finally made an announcement that it is restructuring the core gameplay of Anthem to create a better experience for its players.
When Anthem was first previewed at E3 in 2017, though, it wowed audiences and fostered a huge sense of excitement for the game it was supposed to become. The world and graphics of the game were visually stunning, especially coupled with the Javelin gameplay demonstrated in the preview. What players got instead was a game that wasn’t as fleshed out as advertised and in need of serious changes—that’s where Anthem 2.0 comes in.
The reveal trailer for Anthem is, without exaggeration, absolutely stunning. The lighting, the textures, and the NPCs scuttling around (to name a few things) made the trailer seem more cinematic rather than an in-development video game. It was also exciting because NPCs seemed to approach the player character—something that previous games hadn’t yet implemented. For example, worried man named Praxley gives the protagonist a mission—Hell or High Water—which introduces audiences to the gameplay mechanics of Javelins.
Once the player character entered the Javelin suit, there was a sequence showing off the facial details of the protagonist before they stepped out onto the launch point. It’s the audience’s first glimpse at the world of Anthem, and it was breathtaking. The world seemed expansive and lush, with lots of different areas to explore. Showing off the Javelin flight mechanics also served as a great preview of the world players would traverse once the game was officially available.
As audiences experienced different types of Javelins and their unique gameplay, they also got to see how multiplayer would work within the game. The players in the trailer encountered a variety of enemies and got to choose whether they would engage or not, while the trailer concluded with a team of four plunging into a storm that was as dangerous as it was well-rendered.
Anthem made a lot of promises with its E3 debut, but what players got was far from what was demonstrated. The environments were massively reduced, both in scale and actual items used to build the scenery. While the game was still visually impressive, it wasn’t nearly as in-depth as the trailer made it seem like it would be. The moving parts like Anthem’s NPCs freely moving or even the wind blowing the fabric tops of the stalls in the bazar were massively changed in the final product.
NPCs are stationary, no longer approaching players as they navigate through the space. Praxley, who was introduced in the trailer, doesn’t exist in the game, and neither does the mission Hell or High Water. The wildlife that was supposed to run freely in the environment also changed as well, overall giving players a less dynamic and immersive gaming experience.
The trailer also didn’t account for how disappointed players would feel with the gameplay in and of itself—repetitive, almost unimportant campaign storylines coupled with Javelin suits that, though customizable, didn’t feel very different from each other and a launch riddled with bugs left players with a bad taste in their mouth towards Anthem. This isn’t to say that games don’t undergo some changes from their demos to the final product, but what was presented versus what was given to buyers seemed, in a word, deceptive.
With this in mind, hopefully Anthem 2.0 can redeem the game and rejuvenate its fan base while also bringing in new players. Correcting its core gameplay and adding in some of the details that were previously scrapped from the game could breathe new life into Anthem. If Anthem 2.0 doesn’t deliver these changes, the game may not last.
Anthem is available now for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.