Anthem, the new game as a service of BioWare, arrives later this month and has two weeks of betas. According to Scylla Costa, Brazilian producer of the game, the proposal is to stress the title servers and receive feedback from users. Well, that’s exactly what happened.
The first demo was called VIP, reserved only for those who made the advance purchase of the title, as well as guests and journalists. There were so many server issues that even BioWare’s live leader Chad Robertson officially said, “It was tough yesterday. The first day of our VIP demo did not happen exactly as we planned and we would like to share what happened. ”
He presented three major problems: the connection difficulty, making some people simply could not access the game; credential issues that prevented people with a confirmed pre-sale from entering; and, more generally, infinite loadings.
All of these were serious problems, which may have spoiled the experience of many people, but they are also very likely to be resolved for the next few weeks. After all, as Costa pointed out, that’s what a beta demo is for.
The following weekend, however, the second demo was held, open to the general public for free. It is worth noticing, therefore, that there are many more people playing and a much less controlled environment than the VIP version.
Do you have a solution?
Before starting this preview, here’s a context score. This analysis will separate positive and negative elements, the latter being considered taking into account that it is a demo in beta. That is, we are not talking about the final game and it is not even worth treating this experience. That said, more central points will be presented and others that can be easily modified or that producers have already said will change.
Let’s get right to the point: yes, the demo has many flaws when it comes to technical elements. Starting with the amount of loadings that have been maintained since the VIP version. The problem is not essentially a long loading to enter the title, as for example with GTA V.
The point is that for each stage of the missions, there may be a new loading, completely taking out the immersion or even the adrenaline rush and pace of what you are doing.
The interesting part of this is that, as Costa pointed out, BioWare wanted to hear the player. As a result, Anthem’s production boss, Ben Irving, has been posting on Twitter a number of changes that will come (at least he promises) in the final version of the game – that is, you can expect that one-of-a-kind day-patch.
One of the first items on the list is exactly the loading time, which, again, it promises to be shorter.
The game also came with some performance issues, such as a drop in frame rate and textures that take so long to download that, when that happens, you’re not even there anymore. Although Canaltech has tested the demo on the regular PlayStation 4, in conversations with users from other platforms it was possible to realize that the problem is general, even in more powerful PCs, PS4 Pro and Xbox One X.
Irving has already promised that the title comes with 30 fps at launch. According to Digital Foundry, on both devices there are times when the frame rate drops to below 20 frames per second in this demo.
Again, it’s worth noticing that although these are issues that can be considered serious, none of these are effectively impossible to resolve before the release, and it is quite acceptable that they appear in the test demo.
The real problem is starting to emerge right now. There are some more central Anthem decisions that can be effectively a problem for the final version. The demo also featured some mechanics that were a bit hazy in the videos presented so far.
A novelty was to realize how much the Spears (Javelins in the English version) can be really customizable and present / display variations in the way you play Anthem. Each has its own specific weapons that define the style of play. It is worth remembering: the Patrulheiro, directed to the precision; the Colossus, with tank characteristics; the Interceptor, more geared towards speed; and the Storm, with elemental blows.
Combine that with the possibility of making small changes in personalization, not only aesthetic, but also of power and defense, and we have enough diversity in the way we fight in Anthem.
Another quite good surprise was how good it is to walk with the Spear through the world of Anthem. Although it takes some time to understand the mechanics of the robot, when you get the hang of it, walking can be an experience apart here.
Also highlight how BioWare has fed on open-world games to pick up elements that work in a universe that you can theoretically explore at will. The Spear’s flight works with a mechanic very similar to Link’s escalation in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild. If in Nintendo’s game our silent hero had a climbing bar from the Hyrule Mountains, in Anthem there is a limit to how long the Spear can stay in the air.
BioWare’s justification within the title is that the armor heats up too much, ceasing to function with flight time. So, like Breath of The Wild, you can manage this ability and get taller if you have a strategy for it.
At Anthem, skimming, or even diving into the lakes, can cool your armor. That way, to reach the highest places, opting for a waterfall or river may be the best way to stay in the air.
The flights also give another vertical trait to the game. At various times, you may choose to go to the skies to catch your breath and recover from a flurry of shots. Enemies also get high enough, creating the need to sometimes get off the ground to face them.
This creates a whole new dynamic battle that involves not only changing location but also strategy. BioWare chose not to hover in the air the items that the enemies offer. In addition to seeming more logical, it also causes you to have to manage your weapons much more seriously in flight, or even to descend in search of more ammunition.
Despite all this interesting movement in the world, a negative point is the moment when you are in Fort Tarsis, the public environment similar to the Tower of Destiny 2. In addition to being the time when the frame rate most suffered in the demo, it was also here that we saw one of the most annoying things of the beta: your character does not run, just walks a lot, but very slowly.
Yes, Irving has already promised that you will run the Fort freely in the final version.
In the plot of Anthem, which can be very little seen in the demo, you are a freelancer hired to do some missions in protection of your fort. It is in this system of quests that the game of BioWare will be based.
In the demo, it was possible to play some of them in a limited way, showing that there is a lot of Destiny here, the best and the worst that the creation of Bungie can offer. In most missions, there is that simple sequence of reaching a point A and destroying everything there; go to point B and also destroy everything there, until at point C a stronger enemy appears ending the mission.
The looping little creative, and even dull, appeared to the hills in Anthem, not offering in the demo something that can be called innovative in terms of missions. It is worth mentioning: this is a beta test, with the first function of stressing servers and not essentially presenting history or mechanics.
However, a point included by Electronic Arts, which publishes the game, called attention. Almost there to the end of the demo, the official profile of the company loose on Twitter the information that “something was happening” in Anthem.
It was a minivent, as do games like Destiny and Fornite, in the gameplay proposal as a service. Always offer a new crumb for the player to stay that way.
In the case of the BioWare game, the event consisted of the appearance of a tornado or red portal in the sky. Excitement! Getting closer, searching for one or two entrances, you come to a place where there is a new enemy. A large stone ball that throws other fireballs at you. I killed everything. Loot on the floor and …… “is that all?”.
It is worth noticing that the companies tested the server with this type of event and, once again, they used a test scenario, nothing that excites. However, it gives a scope of what can be expected from events of this type within Anthem. At least here was the most time-directed moment for content that I think I might have seen in this title.
What to expect?
The Anthem demo presented what we can expect from a beta test: full of problems and much to be changed. Through Twitter, Irving promised to improve the balance (test function) as well as quite specific points such as new inclusions on maps and improvements in the way the Spear behaves underwater.
A lot still needs to change in the weeks leading up to the release. If BioWare will be able to prepare this until the game hits the market, we’ll know only when we get our hands on the game.
What may be of more concern to those looking for the title is the core of what was presented. So far, if you have a rich world, with a very interesting way to explore. The story, presented only in interviews with producers, can also be a good injection of novelty and innovation within Anthem.
On the other hand, what has been shown of missions so far has been much more of the same, the absence of variations of weapons and strategies that the Spears have. Even the mechanics and enemies in Bullet Sponge style (when you need to shoot until you break his life bar) seems outdated and could offer something new.
In sum, however, the demo served more to trim the edges of Anthem than actually convince the undecided to buy the game. Moreover, perhaps, it has made many people abandon the idea.
As an analysis proposal for the development team, these demos were a full plate, but a nightmare for the marketing team.
Anthem is being developed by BioWare and will be published by Electronic Arts for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on February 22, 2019.