PS4 version tested
The Main Story Point Review
BioWare, the masters of tale crafting, try their hand at the looter-shooter genre and put in the RPG elements required to turn into their staple. What they come up with is awe-inspiring and potentially a lovely change of pace. I was astonished and anticipated it with everything of my being. The homegrown company was back in business in my eyes. That was literally 2 years ago, and for what they’ve blood sacrificed to reach this point to release Anthem: it feels past half of what could nearly amount to “for nought”.
The World of Bastion holds a dark secret outside of the human’s existence. A powerful ancient relic reappears, with the ability to grant life or death. Between it and the humans lie feral creatures and factions that oppose those searching for the Anthem of Creation – a gold-like substance who telepathically communicates with the gifted. Cyphers are akin to the gifted, assisting the Freelancers with communication and tactical analysis. Anthem starts nearly 900 years or more into its current world. Similar to many other worlds before it, Bastion is a planet where man has yet to even take to the stars. The Freelancer – your character – starts his quest off 2 years before the current events. With his some of his squad wiped out by the giant Titan creatures during the Heart of Rage incident, the Freelancer remains alone to reshape his life. With a new team alongside him, the Freelancer is thrown back into the fray when a government agent requests his assistance.
Aesthetically, Bastion is lush in its wake. Environments are thought-out with forests, rivers, and ruins. Freelancers can zip through the countryside in a 3rd person view. Even just hunting for trouble in free play is still quite the spectacle. Fort Tarsis has several people to walk through and holds no qualms with how many. Comparable to the E3 2017 demo, it’s not as bustling but holds a small charm to it. NPCs are easy to find, thanks to the map. Yet, in some instances, they might have a conversation lined up. The HUD already displays who is ready to fire more words off. The limit of decisions are usually 2 forms of dialogue, with an effect to inner human factions – Arcanists, Sentinals, or Freelancers. These affect getting certain perks and blueprints.
Freelancers are pilots of an exoskeleton suit, known as the Javelin. The suit’s power is measured out in the overall stat. Arms, guns, and seals, make up the power and rank. Weapons themselves go to masterworks from common. There are additional attributes in there. Searching for embers to create weapons or items are done through finding them or buying them in town.
The combat feels as if this is what BioWare has been building up to since Mass Effect’s first Galaxy At War expansion. Sometimes, while I’m fighting, I find myself just looking at the field and seeing each class working together in missions, undertaking their spots. It’s Power Rangers/Justice League Unlimited fun, nearly. There are the usual archetypes: outlaws, beasts, an insect shapeshifter race known as Scars and the Dominion. This also includes antagonist Freelancers, who sport the barrier and some kits like the player’s Javelin. The patterns are predictable, but not enough to fixate onto the other enemy forces shooting at you. The Javelin classes match RPGs to a tee. Storms are quite impressive and have me spellbound via area effects.
I feel for BioWare. BioWare changed my perspective on RPGs from the Western end. A work neighbour’s suggestion rendered probably 2-3 playthroughs of each Mass Effect episode before Andromeda. The voiceover work was enthralling and full as Shenmue felt initially to me, if not much better. I recognised the talent. The decisions carried weight as close to a Choose Your Own Adventure book did back when I blazed through them. The twists hurt hard and the development of the players’ arc brought about a stir. At a point, I had questions of what was done and a couple of missteps (i.e. Jacob nearly felt as BET/Hip-hop stereotypical cliche story as we could get with his backstory), but I respected them all the more. The detail was it. I could see that in Anthem, but slightly. Haluk and Faye are believable and voiced by two top-notch talents. As much as I can be a Cullen or Garrus, or even an Iron Bull, it’s cool to at least have these someplace even if it’s just their voice. From BBC to Brooklyn 99, the voiceovers were amazing and up to form.
Anthem forgets itself with conversations and it’s cast. Sometimes, it’s overly repetitive to hear some quips over again, especially if the characters mentioned are literally an earshot away. In Mass Effect, there’d be banter. Here, it’s like they’re in separate rooms almost. NPC characters are stationary, standing instead of interacting with their environments as I’d expect. It became difficult to immerse myself into what they were about or their respected roles. Zoe, the mechanic on Javelin maintenance, would just stand there. Owen, your best friend and Cypher, would just stand there after his introduction. Bryn and Vule, respected members and higher-ups of the police-esque Sentinals? well, you’re already knowing the pattern. Faye was cringe-worthy with the animation the most. Make her do something at least, guys. Even when they did interact, some of the movements were jarring. Points in different places occurring. Compared to what BioWare has done in its heyday or other products. Bailey was filling out reports on the Citadel. Isabella was getting a drink at the local tavern, reminiscing about old marks and getting into trouble. Cassandra was busy practising sword techniques. The NPCs and your own party had a life and showed how they lived it. Moving an NPC to the bar doesn’t tell me they’re at the bar unless they are doing something at the bar. Cutscenes were the best with these NPC, pending they didn’t end up breaking the game completely.
Some of the mission’s rewards didn’t feel as if it added well to the labour of. Even the legionnaire quests didn’t bode the same. For the tombs, there wasn’t that sense of win. nothing revolutionary. Most of the repeating quests didn’t come until later after the first pass through. Epics felt different in power, but not enough to add to the means again. This felt a bit lacking for Anthem. A majority of the quests held the same format. The BioWare Mass Effect 2 charm seemed to disappear. Though, the feel of jumping into your mech never got old.
The UI menus seem to be hard to navigate through while looking beautiful. It’s hard to go through different sections without a clear cut idea as to how to go about it. The storefront, while cosmetic, is also a bit offputting. Instead of continuing in one store, I feel as if both stores are interconnected since Sayrna voices both, even though Prospero owns the same one I was in. The story build-up was also anticlimactic compared to other BioWare romps.
Anthem itself is a risk worth taking, but closer to death than the life it deserves to live in its current state. There are highlights yet the dimming of its play is lower, it further into a shadow of its older rivals. With nearly a half dozen years in the kilm of production, the vase BioWare demonstrated is slightly seen through its campaign and stronghold fights. The cracks of bugs are at an alarming cause of concern. While it’s hella fun and the initial questline had its moments, I couldn’t get over the lack thereof in its QA team to perform at the level expected. Anthem attempts to bring back the glory days of BioWare’s craft, yet through laundry lists of issues pre-and-post launch: it lacks the masterpiece shine needed to re-create that feeling on initial delivery. In all fairness, and the roadmap, alongside its responsive team, I’d wait a few months for BioWare to apply its love.
Beard Score: 6/10
PlayStation 4 Essentials: