Anthem is the next big game from BioWare, and is an entirely new IP from the studio. In Anthem, you pilot one of four different exosuits known as Javelins and team up with a maximum of three other people in cooperative adventures, or you can progress through the entire game on your own if you so choose. The game pairs classic BioWare storytelling with fast-paced and exciting gameplay that makes you feel like Iron Man as you fly around Anthem's gorgeous world.
This last weekend, I had the chance to jump into Anthem's VIP demo that ran from Friday to Sunday, and got to experience almost everything the demo had to offer. If you missed out on the VIP demo, there will be an open public demo this upcoming weekend, running from February 1st to the 3rd! The demo itself threw me into the middle of the game at level 10 without an intro or tutorial on how to play, and also featured many other changes that will not be present in the full game. Before the launch of the demo, BioWare issued a caveat to players that the earn rate on XP, items, Coin, and access to certain customization options would be different in the demo versus the full game.
The VIP demo was plagued with many issues that kept people from playing the game, which warranted a blog update from BioWare's head of live service. These issues began when players tried to log into the game when the demo first launched, causing the Anthem servers to become full. Players found themselves unable to connect to the game for several hours, and those that did get in were faced with random crashes and infinite load screens. To say that the demo had a rocky start is putting it lightly, and many players were frustrated that their already limited opportunity to play the game was being compromised. To make up for these issues, BioWare unlocked all of the various Javelins for VIP demo players to try and will reward players with a unique vinyl at launch (pictured below). Vinyls are customization pieces that can be applied to your Javelin, much like a decal.
After the demo was brought down, BioWare released a weekend summary blog detailing many of the issues that will be addressed before the open demo this next weekend. This includes fixes for entitlement bugs, server performance updates to address rubber-banding, fixes for infinite load screens, platform bugs to validate Javelin unlocks, and client/platform login bugs.
Demo issues aside, I had a ton of fun playing the game once I was able to get in. The standout feature for me is certainly being able to fly around in your Javelin, and doing so in combat has many tactical advantages. It simply feels incredible to fly into a group of enemies and land in the middle of them with a punch to the ground that kills them all. You're also able to dash around the battlefield using your boosters, or hover mid-air as you rain bullets down upon your enemies. The shooting feels like a combination between Mass Effect and Destiny, and each of the gun types had unique shooting properties.
The different Javelins had their own unique feel in combat, and each comes with their own sets of strengths and weaknesses. Each Javelin also comes equipped with a unique powerful ultimate ability that is used to change the tide of a battle. The Ranger is the default Javelin in the demo, and has a focus on versatility. Using several different rocket abilities to devastate foes, the Ranger will be able to fill in as a jack-of-all-trades for any squad. The Colossus is a massive brute with defensive shield that you can deploy as you see fit. This Javelin is the go-to tank for any squad and has the highest survivability out of the four. The Interceptor is my personal favorite and allows you to quickly dash around the battlefield with devastating melee attacks. Finally, the Storm is the Javelin to play if you're looking for elemental damage. Utilizing the Storm's powerful abilities, you can set up and detonate powerful skill combinations with other squad-mates.
Ability combos work much like they do in Mass Effect. First, you will need to us a primer ability on an enemy -- such as the Storm's Ice Blast. You then can detonate the ability combo by using a detonator ability -- such as the Ranger's Seeking Missile. Doing so will create a powerful explosion on the target, causing a crazy amount of damage. Using these ability combinations are crucial to taking down elite enemies, and will be necessary to play on the higher difficulty settings once you are max level.
I also wanted to mention how gorgeous the game is! Running on the Frostbite engine, this game looked great and ran fantastically on my PC at 1080p with mostly ultra settings. I'm using an NVIDIA 980ti graphics card, an i5 3570k CPU, and my game was not installed on an SSD. My average FPS was around 65 and there were a few areas that had me dipping below 60; however, most of my time in the demo was spent above that. With additional performance optimizations yet to come, I'm confident that my rig will be able to handle the game as it is. With that said, I did notice some awful object and actor pop-in while in Fort Tarsis (your main base) at times, but this will likely improve through future optimization. When the game launches, I will have it installed on my SSD to help prevent the pop-in as well.
Overall, the game is incredibly fun to play and the story seems interesting for what I've been able to see of it. I'm interested in playing the full game once it releases on February 22nd, and I'm curious to see how well the end-game activities will be at keeping my attention. If you're interested in Anthem, you can play the open demo starting on February 1st. Early access to the full game begins on February 15th for Origin Access and EA Access members.
Chris "Zenkiki" Brosseau
Chris is a content creator on YouTube who covers all things gaming and nerdy! He plays a large variety of games, including competitive shooters and strategy games, but specializes in Role-Playing Games. Chris has been creating gaming content for over ten years and is an indie game developer in his spare time. He is also an avid tabletop gamer, and has a +3 bonus to devouring cereal.