Since the news that Anthem may yet still have some life, in the form of an Anthem 2.0 / Anthem Next, I’ve taken a bit of a stroll down memory lane. I took another look at my review. I read my thoughts on the loot generation improvements done while I was still playing. And I looked over what I wrote when finally acknowledging I was putting Anthem down for a while.
It reminded me that there were plenty of issues to pick on. Poor difficulty scaling with nothing but HP and damage numbers being tweaked. Grandmaster 2 and 3 just weren’t worth even attempting, yet Grandmaster 1 quickly became basic.
A better story, perhaps? Anthem’s was perfectly serviceable except it lost so much of what makes a BioWare story a BioWare story. All roads led to the same place. You had no agency whatsoever in how it played out. Not unusual I suppose in the looter-shooter genre, but very unusual given the pedigree of the studio behind this one.
Maybe you would prefer technical enhancements. Make it possible to actually load into a mission in less than a minute? Or less than two if you were stuck with the misfortune of trying to play on a standard platter based HDD.
Character Customisation and Loot Diversity
This was the single biggest failing for me. “But you put two things there!” — Well, yeah. But they play into the same problem.
If we could fix nothing else with a 2.0 or Next style update, fix this.
There are any number of ways to go about achieving it. Expanding the loot options would be a great start. By which I mean, start adding more and more interesting properties to the loot generator.
Add properties to Masterwork and Legendary items which change how skills function. Multishot. Elemental shifts. Damage reduction in return for higher critical chance. No criticals at all for higher base damage. Give us sets.
Add a better definition between primary and secondary statistics on items. Allow for more of each. Provide defensive options and have them actually be a viable option.
The end goal of course to provide multiple paths down which to build a Javelin. Different paths with different play styles. For whatever other faults the titles might have — Diablo 3 and Path of Exile are two fantastic examples of this aspect done right.
It needs to be possible to actually craft a range of builds for a given Javelin, in short.
Loot is one way of doing that — adding an alternate system on top such as talents or a skill tree is another.
I’m far less picky on how this one actually shows up though, it’s the overall, combined, final effect that matters to me. Anthem fell well short in that particularly for the ‘components’ (analogous with armor slots in another RPG). There only existed enough Masterwork components to take one of each for your ‘build’.
There was no choice. One of each, call it done. You could go for minor optimisations of the statistics on your copies — but that was it. Fix this one thing, and I probably could’ve put another 50 or so hours relatively happily.
It still would have come to an end though eventually. But fortunately, if the story around Anthem Next is true — we don’t need to settle for just one fix. Everything will be overhauled. Next up after this, in my opinion, would be to fix the weak bones preventing further story content from being attached.
Only time will tell how far Anthem will get to go. How much of a budget will Anthem receive? Will we be back into a near fully loaded development team or will the barebones live team be left to struggle with it all?
I certainly hope for the former, but I worry its the latter.