When Anthem launched last year, it was with a whimper, not a bang. The title was generally panned on release, thanks to a hodgepodge of bad decisions: Poor loot, limited endgame play, and a clashing structure that felt like two different genres shoehorned into the same product as opposed to a blend of their best features, Anthem has struggled since launch. BioWare has emphasized for the past year that it wouldn’t simply abandon the title — but it apparently plans a much more substantial overhaul than it had previously committed to.
In a blog post published on Monday, February 10, BioWare General Manager Casey Hudson posted the following:
We have also heard your feedback that Anthem needs a more satisfying loot experience, better long-term progression and a more fulfilling end game. So we recognize that there’s still more fundamental work to be done to bring out the full potential of the experience, and it will require a more substantial reinvention than an update or expansion. Over the coming months we will be focusing on a longer-term redesign of the experience, specifically working to reinvent the core gameplay loop with clear goals, motivating challenges and progression with meaningful rewards – while preserving the fun of flying and fighting in a vast science-fantasy setting. And to do that properly we’ll be doing something we’d like to have done more of the first time around – giving a focused team the time to test and iterate, focusing on gameplay first.
In the meantime, we will continue to run the current version of Anthem, but move away from full seasons as the team works towards the future of Anthem. We’ll keep the game going with events, store refreshes, and revisiting past seasonal and cataclysm content – starting with our anniversary towards the end of the month.
I think it’s interesting to see BioWare committing to rebuilding Anthem in this fashion because we seem to be seeing more evidence that studios are willing to make this kind of commitment to a product. No Man’s Sky is one of the most striking examples of this trend, but it’s not the only one: Fortnite, Rainbow Six Siege, The Division, and Final Fantasy XIV are all fairly recent games that launched in one condition and are in a very different state today. Of course, what many of these games have in common is an online or multiplayer component that allowed them to be treated like communities (with the long-running player bases that implies) rather than being single-player focused. Then again, No Man’s Sky is something of an exception there as well. While that game is a multiplayer title now, it very much wasn’t when it launched in 2016.
I’d like to include Fallout 76 on this list, but I’m honestly not sure it qualifies. Bethesda deserves full credit for sticking with the game rather than abandoning it at launch, but the developer can’t seem to quit making unforced errors. Delaying a content patch for six months because you want to improve it is the right move, but introducing aggressive new monetization efforts that paywall massive game-affecting bonuses behind a subscription model? That takes a lot of chutzpah. So… maybe we give FO76 half credit for now (because Bethesda absolutely has stuck around and invested in the game) and revisit the question after the title gets its first content update.
As for Anthem, I’d love to see the game rereleased with a better mix of gameplay and storytelling. Anthem is a title I kept an eye on but ultimately opted against purchasing based on the review criticism it got. I picked up No Man’s Sky for Christmas because it had finally been updated enough to seem like a title I might enjoy rather than a half-baked experience with far better launch trailers than gameplay. I haven’t gotten to play as much as I planned, but the new game features, quests, and exploration are a far cry from what existed 3.5 years ago. I’m always pleased to see a developer invest in a game rather than killing it, and I hope Anthem nails its relaunch the second time around.
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