BioWare’s next sprawling adventure is launching in less than a month; Anthem will mark the developers first foray into the “it’s an mmo, but not an mmo” genre popularized by Warframe, Destiny, The Division and a few others. A popular yet polarizing cross-bread of concepts, this next loot-shooter plans to take on other games in its genre in the hopes to capture the minds, money and hours of playtime of the gaming community.

Only issue is, BioWare has an end-game problem.

Wait, what the hell is an end-game anyway? Glad you asked! Essentially, an end-game activity in a game can be identified as what you do once you have finished the story, and reached the maximum level cap. Once this occurs, players are now fighting new challenges in the hopes to get new gear, maximize their characters potential or role-playing as Preston Garvey in more open-ended games like Fallout 76.

It’s a loose term which boils down to “Why should I keep playing?”

That is the question that BioWare must answer, especially to keep themselves relevant with the impending launch of The Division 2 less than a month after (which has 8-player raids by the way).

The Division 2 will feature 8-player raids *drools*

First let’s briefly discuss what players will be able to experience at launch; Anthem will feature a standard-campaign, three-stronghold missions at launch (which are similar to Destiny’s strikes), contracts which are missions in the open world that string together random objectives, free-play, six difficulty levels and the newly revealed Cataclysm which are Fortnite-esque world changing, seasonal events.

That’s not really a lot, especially considering the amount of content that Anthem’s competition has. With that said, it’s important to remember that games-as-a-services are built around the idea of having an initial offering that is enough to hook players, with the promise of new content; something BioWare has already confirmed along with the fact that all post-launch content will be free.

With the promise of free content, where could BioWare go with Anthem? Here are some ideas on how Anthem can last past its initial launch and realize its potential.

A content road-map

A detailed, public look at the development behind Star Citizen.

First of all, please tell your audience what you are planning on creating for the game and the general time-line of when content will release.  Having a content road-map communicates to your players on what kind of meaningful changes are coming to the game, and generally reassuring that this game is still being supported. Star Citizen has a fantastic road map that is broken down by yearly quarters, that can be expanded for more detail. The breakdown is comprehensive detailing something as seemingly trivial like an update on an NPC. Apparently, a mission giver by the name of Tecia Paecheco is currently in development, with 19/46 tasks completed.

This is an awe-inspiring level of communication with fans who are dying to know the direction of a game they plan on spending hundreds of hours in. Star Citizen is a fully crowd funded game too, which speaks volumes to the level of communication by the developer Cloud Imperium Games. BioWare and EA need to be this transparent with their game, especially considering that you can’t keep a game-as-a-service running if there’s no one to give a service to.

Destiny style raids

The Leviathan raid in Destiny 2.

No matter what you have to say about Destiny (and god knows I have a lot to say about it), they do have some awesome raids. I have played the Vault of Glass, King’s Fall and the Leviathan raid, and each of them were unique and offered compelling scenarios that demanded communication and team-play.

Granted, Destiny obviously did not invent the idea of a raid but they did create something that makes sense for its world and gameplay. That’s what BioWare needs to do, create a raid that centers around their universe and their style of game-play. Anthem is a beautiful alien world, with an emphasis on verticality and ability usage. It would be cool to see a raid that maybe involved climbing a giant mountain, surviving the icy conditions as it plays havoc on your suit only to fight some sort of shaper-based boss. Maybe even a raid that involved attacking the Dominion and each player taking on their equivalent in a brutal clash. There are so many opportunities to take advantage of in the world BioWare has created. It will be interesting to see what they do with it.

Rifts and the Underground

The winding, randomly generated tunnels of New York in The Division.

The Division and Diablo III have a lot of things in common: they both had troubled beginnings and they both feature a game-mode that involves brutal loot-runs through randomly generated dungeons that can be modified in a myriad of ways. In Diablo III players traveled through rifts with varying degree of difficulty and enemy variety in search for the all-mighty loot. The Division’s paid DLC “Underground” also tackled the idea of randomizing dungeons where players ventured into the underground tunnel’s of New York city looking for new guns. These provided great alternatives for doing the same mission over-and-over again by creating challenging, shifting dungeons.

Anthem can capitalize on this by taking advantage of their science-fiction backdrop. The world created by BioWare is teaming with twists, turns, cliffs and a lot of visual assets that go into making them cohesive. Having a randomized system that pieces together tile sets, enemies and shifting objectives can make traversing the world feel fresh. The current, similar approach is the legendary contracts that randomize variables in the pre-established open world, but to be quite frank, I think I already know the entire area right outside of Fort Tarsis.

The funny thing is, I was under the assumption Anthem already had this; the shaper storms.

Where are the shaper storms?

Expectations.

During the last day of the open demo, Anthem’s world experienced a strange phenomenon in the sky with a large, red storm. Having played it personally, turned out the storm signified a world-boss, an Ash titan, that players could battle. It was over in about 15 minutes with two random players fighting alongside me. The rewards were also “okay”. Some have been saying that this event was indeed a shaper storm, the once teased event closing out the E3 2017 reveal demo of Anthem.

But that can’t be it can it? From what we saw, they were large “rift” like portals with players jumping in, on the hunt for end-game content. According to Mark Darrah, the executive producer on Anthem, who’s recent interview with Variety detailed the games end-game, it may have actually been a Cataclysm.


“Cataclysms will function similarly to seasonal content found in games like “Fortnite,” with a global change to the map, or what DICE is doing with “Battlefield V’s” Tides of War. These will be time-limited, thematic content that gives BioWare the chance to change how the world looks, feels, and reacts to players. Cataclysm events will only last for a limited period of time and the core experience tied to them will also fit somewhere on the spectrum between a “Destiny” strike and a raid.” – Mark Darrah, Executive Producer.

Anthem’s’ Endgame: How BioWare Hopes to Hook Players, Variety
Reality?

Okay that’s fine, but where are the shaperstorms that we saw two years ago. I’m not naive enough to think everything showed would end up in the game, but it could have been fun to find out what was originally conceptualized.

Dynamic World Events

Dynamic yet weird interation in Red Dead Redemption 2.

During the demo, there were a few world events to experience. They usually had the same structure: trigger the event, kill waved of enemies and gather something or the other to complete the event. After the first few times they can start to feel very dull. Right now the world of Anthem feels like a beautiful backdrop to localized mini-missions rather than feeling like a dynamic world to get lost in.

One of my favorite things about Fallout 4 or Red Dead Redemption 2 is how random the world can be. I could be riding my horse around when suddenly an NPC needs help with a snake bite wound, or I could be walking around the remains of Boston in Fallout 4 when, well, literally anything could happen. Right now flying around the world, and in turn it’s world events, feel a bit too structured. We see a glowing icon, and instantly know what it is. Give me some unknown variables, no icons. Give me danger.

Unique Mission’s

Give me a reason to explore the unknown.

BioWare revealed that all future story-DLC would be free which is fantastic, but how will they actually be? During the demo, I played the story-arc involving Mathias and a mishap with some shaper technology. It involved a discussion which boils down to different dialogue choices with the same result. It was a fun mission, but it still involved going to point A, shoot something, profit.

For these missions I would love a lot more variety; while the game does boil down to a loot shooter, give us new ways to earn the loot in story missions. Maybe as Javelins we enter a large, crumbling ruin and have to fly through it, mid-collapse, to make it to the other side. Or maybe it’s a treasure hunt where we have to use environmental clues to discover hidden treasures. Some more conversation options would be helpful as well; this is BioWare we’re talking about, to have only two choices of dialogue and no options to ask non-mission critical questions is absurd. In Dragon Age Inqusition, on top of the straight forward story focused dialogue, my favorite thing to do was to get to know the characters in the world. Anthem is a beautiful, alien world, don’t waste it on just shooting and give us more opportunities to live in this world.

So much to talk about in Dragon Age: Inquisition.

Javelin Racing

This, but mech suits.

Another no-brainier; we have super-powerful flying mech suits, why not have some sort of racing mini-game? By no means is this is “end-game” material like a raid, but having various smaller things that adds depth and variety to the world of Anthem could set it apart from the pact.

Destiny had sparrow racing which was passable considering the way sparrows handle, but it was a fun break from the grind. End-game, in this case, could mean ways to take a break from the end-game grind.

Complex foes

Not the best, but not bad either.

So far, the world of Anthem is filled with; wildlife, Dominion troops, the generic “Scar” alien race, and some Ash titans. Considering the standard build of light troops, an elite, big guy with heavy armor and a boss, there really isn’t much variety in terms of enemies. This of course is based solely on the VIP and open demo and not assuming the final game has this. But in case it does, we need enemy variety.

In a science-fiction world, you have the creative license to create basically whatever you want. Want a giant sand worm? Done. What about a time-travelling robot species? Sure, why not. Anthem has the backdrop of having varied enemies and so far, it hasn’t capitalized on it. The stronghold boss in the demo, the Swarm Tyrant, was the only enemy that featured some variation; a multi-step battle with some changes in behavior. Otherwise enemies don’t really change up their tactics, and at points just straight up b-line right at you with no regard for their owl well being.

Personalizing Fort Tarsis

This is the only place in Fort Tarsis that has any input from the character, visually.

“Our world, my story” is the theme that BioWare is pushing with Anthem. So far though, the “my story” part has felt lackluster. Not to comment on the game’s actual story that is, this is more to comment on the fact that Fort Tarsis kinda sucks as of this moment. As we know so far, our actions don’t really have an impact on the hub. In The Division and BioWare’s earlier game Dragon Age: Inquisition, both featured missions and feats to improve your home and to add your own visual flair.

As a freelancer of this bastion of humanity, you would think we would at least get a homestead as opposed to aimlessly wandering around the markets at night waiting to go on another mission. I don’t feel any attachment to the city I am trying to defend, and it feels a lot more like “Our world, me waiting to go out into our world”.

Customizing Skyhold, the player base in Dragon Age:Inquisition.

The Arena (1V1 PVP Arena)

1V1 in For Honor.

If you utter the words “PvP” on /r/AnthemTheGame, there’s a good chance you will be down-voted to oblivion. A lot of the concerns are balance, focus on PvP taking away from PvE and people just straight-up not wanting any PvP at all. This is a small idea I had, but what if the PvP took a cue from For Honor?.

One of the game-modes in For Honor pits players having 1-v-1 duel’s and I figured it would be interesting to see two Javelin’s going head-to-head, no support from anyone else. This would put even more emphasis on finding the best load-out for your javelin

Imagine tweaking a Colossus to maximize it’s armor and mortar essentially turning it into a walking tank versus a high-risk, high-reward Interceptor that focuses completely on melee.

Anthem Zoology

It’s so fluffy!

Give me a pet Grabbit, please.

A full experience, with a side of MTX

Please, EA. No.

There is no better way to lose customers, than to charge $20 dollar skins for a game that is not free-to-play. It works for Warframe and Fortnite because these are freemium games with loot that can be earned in game, or you can feel a little fancy and get a nice skin. Right now if you search on YouTube “Anthem microtransactions” you will get such colorful videos like “Anthem’s $20 Skin Prices are RIDICULOUS! – Angry Rant!”. People in general are not happy about the way EA is handling micro transactions after Star Wars: Battlefront 2.

The best approach is to not having ridiculous pricing in place and not fix the in-game economy turning it into a grind-fest. It’s tough to find a balance that pleases both the company and the community, but it is worth exploring.

The Future of Anthem

How Anthem evolves over time is up to BioWare, the community, and the relationship that is shaped between them. EA and BioWare have a tough road ahead of them; between tough competition from other games in the genre to the companies past woes, but I believe Anthem can find a place in a pact environment.

These are just a few brainstormed ideas by someone who has no experience in game development. These are also just a few brainstormed ideas, by a gamer who is genuinely excited to see how BioWare handles their newest property. I’ll be there playing from day 1, I just hope I can find enough to keep me invested in this brand new world.

Anthem launches on February 22, 2019 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.

Note: PC players with Origin Access Premiere can start on February 15th.)

About The Author

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Robin Ghosh (a.k.a. SpectreRobin) is a Sr. Staff Writer at GAW. He is a published writer, photographer, videographer and budding filmmaker and is currently the content director of TABOOZAPP. Having recently finished his masters in media production at Ryerson University, he is gearing up to take his career to the next level (ha, gaming pun). Robin is in love with role-playing games, sim-shooters like Deus Ex and Prey and has a soft spot for survival games like DayZ. He will play anything with a good story and a compelling world to explore. That being said no matter what year it is, he will probably at some point have a craving to play Skyrim again for the 3rd time..4th? Who knows, he really....really likes Skyrim.