This new franchise by the creators of Mass Effect has an uphill PR battle to fight on two fronts. One one hand, the launch of Andromeda, the last game in the Mass Effect series, had well-documented issues that left a bad impression on many longtime fans. Then there is the publisher EA, whose loot-box-based monetization of Star Wars Battlefront II created such a large controversy that there's still a looming possibility of government regulation of the gaming industry.
Still, I remain cautiously optimistic about Anthem and very eager to try it out. Game maker BioWare focused an important part of its E3 presentation on reiterating that this will be a narrative-focused game with all the engaging elements we have come to love from them, recognizing that Andromeda did not quite hit the mark.
Given that all the gameplay we have seen so far focused on the cooperative multiplayer (and historically multiplayer-focused games do not tend to do well with narrative), Bioware's statement is somewhat reassuring. Anthem's Producer Casey Hudson said that Bioware will balance narrative elements and co-op action by allowing the story and characters to develop in the hubs and towns and limiting player interaction to the dangerous wilderness outside.
Nailing this aspect is going to be a very hard balancing act, but I look forward to the attempt. Also, probably representing a response to the Battlefront II controversy, the game was confirmed to not have any loot boxes. All microtransactions are direct — you know what you buy — and purely cosmetic. I cannot believe we have reached a point where I am celebrating microtransactions, but here we are.
On the tech side, the game will run on EA's Frostbite engine, which I have mixed feelings about. While the recent Frostbite game bug is on all modern Intel HD GPUs I have tried, performance on low-end, dedicated GPUs like the GT 1030/MX 150 is always much higher than I expect. Hopefully, Anthem follows that trend. I would love to see such a bombastic game working on a low-end GPU.
Credit: Electronic Arts