Despite a rough launch, Anthem can still become the game BioWare wanted it to be all along
Anthem isn’t beyond redemption. At least, I don’t believe that it is. Of course, I wouldn’t blame you for thinking or feeling otherwise. We are now six weeks out from the launch of Anthem, and its abundant issues have been well documented and catalogued. They range from incidental, to game breaking, to genuinely baffling. To be honest, to recount each and every one of them here for you today would be an exhausting exercise.
Given how complex and creatively challenging making any piece of interactive entertainment has become in the modern era, perhaps it will come as no surprise to you that many developers do truly believe that getting a game – like, literally any game – to market is something of a miracle. Then again, if you’re one of the millions of players out there that spent $60 on Anthem at launch expecting one thing only to receive another entirely, perhaps you don’t care all that much about miracles anymore.
People make games and games are played by people. I can see it from both sides, and this situation clearly isn’t great for anybody that has any type of investment in it. And, truthfully, BioWare has a lot of ground to cover to get Anthem where it needs to be. The studio needs to reexamine the core structure of the game; the mission variety and design desperately need improving, and the cracks in the progression systems need to be patched over before it breaks apart (again). This, I believe, will all come in time.
That’s why I found speaking to Casey Hudson, just weeks out before the launch of Anthem, to be so refreshing. While there were no PR representatives on the end of the line, I’ve been doing this long enough to know that the general manager of BioWare knows precisely what he can and cannot say. What surprised me then, is that when presented with the opportunity to dabble in a little revisionist history – or, at the very least, damage mitigation – Hudson was steadfast in his hope for how Anthem would take shape in the future, openly discussing how BioWare would deliver this reactive world that could constantly reshape the player’s journey.
What’s next for Anthem?
There’s no doubt that BioWare hasn’t yet delivered in that respect. And so the question now is how long will it take BioWare to get there? How long will we, as players, give BioWare to turn this thing around before we turn away from Anthem entirely?
As I mentioned right at the top of this feature, in many respects, the problems Anthem is encountering now aren’t all that dissimilar to the ones that a legion of other titles bearing the now controversial ‘Games as a Service’ moniker all experienced in the months following their respective launches. Is there an argument to be made that BioWare should have been better prepared to face the challenges of running a live service given that Destiny helped kicked this thing off five years ago? Absolutely.
t is, however, worth bearing in mind that we have the vocabulary (and frames of reference) in 2019 that simply didn’t exist in 2014 – we are all in a better position now to discuss and dissect these issues than we have ever been in the past. Back then, the closest point of comparison for Destiny was to the traditional MMO. Would Anthem’s launch have been so devastatingly perceived had it been able to get away with being compared to Star Wars:
It’s coming. It’s just going to take some time: “The thing that people need to understand – and I want to make sure that this comes across,” Hudson told me in that interview, “is that we are fully committed to this game. It’s something that we’re going to continue to support it for a long, long time.”