Anthem is very different from anything BioWare has made before. It abandons the company's choice-driven, single-player RPG formula in favor of a multiplayer focused game. If you've played some of BioWare's recent titles, like Mass Effect: Andromeda, you'll probably recognize the action-heavy third-person shooter mechanics.
However, setting up combos in Anthem is very different from how you would in past BioWare games. This doesn't mean combos are any less important, though. In fact, they're probably an even more essential part of Anthem's combat than previous BioWare titles. However, the game doesn't do a very good job of explaining how its combo system works.
With that in mind, and the game now being available on Xbox One, PS4, and PC, we've put together a guide on how combos work. For a more detailed impression of Anthem and how each of its systems work in tandem with each other, check out our review.
How Combos Work
Priming and detonating combos isn't necessary for beating Anthem on the easier modes, but understanding how to do so can really help when your squad is ready to tackle the game's Grandmaster difficulties. Each Javelin also creates a different special effect when executing a combo, so know who's piloting what to bring the most pain during Freeplay or Stronghold missions.
To combo in Anthem, you'll first need to know which of a Javelin's unique abilities act as a primer and which are a detonator. Primers set an enemy up for a combo. A detonator, meanwhile, will execute a combo. There are also standard abilities in the game, which neither prime nor detonate, and the Storm's Ultimate attack--Elemental Storm--is both a primer and detonator. In-game, primers are marked in the Forge customization window with a circle icon, and detonators are identified by a four-pronged star. If you don't see either symbol, then the ability is neither a primer or a detonator and just does damage.
Both primers and detonators can be used alone and still cause enemy damage, much like a standard weapon. However, you'll want to execute combos as often as you can to do the most damage in the shortest amount of time. Some enemies tend to be bullet sponges and take a while to kill with firearms alone, so detonating a primer on them is a much easier way of dealing with them.
Detonating an enemy won't remove a primer's effect either, so you don't have to worry about neutralizing status effects by pulling off a combo. If you freeze a group of enemies with a Ranger's Frost Grenade, detonating the combo with a Colossus' Lightning Coil won't unfreeze them. You will have to prime the enemies again for another detonation, but the ice status effect remains until it naturally fades away or its melted via a fire-based attack.
Javelin Combo Effects
Because each Javelin creates its own unique special effect when it detonates an enemy in combat, you should know when to combo and when to let a teammate take the lead. Each Javelin and their corresponding combo effect are outlined below.
- Ranger -- Critical Target Damage: Detonating an enemy causes more damage than any other Javelin's detonation
- Colossus -- Explosion: Detonating an enemy causes an explosion which damages all nearby enemies
- Storm -- Spread: Detonating an enemy causes an explosion which spreads the enemy's elemental status effect to nearby foes
- Interceptor -- Aura: Detonating an enemy causes its elemental status effect to imbued into your Javelin, which can then be spread to nearby targets through proximity
Each Javelin's Role When Setting Up A Combo
Ideally, you'd have Ranger handle all of the detonations when fighting a boss, as its combo effect allows it to do the most damage on a single target. Colossus, Storm, and Interceptor, on the other hand, are great for handling mobs of enemies bunched up together.
That's not to say these roles can't be reversed, though. Ranger's Ultimate, the Multi-Target Missile Battery, hits a bunch of enemies and is a detonator. If you prime a mob, you can do huge amounts of combo damage with this attack. Conversely, Storm and Interceptor's combo effects are ideal in situations where a boss is joined by enemy mobs. Also, Colossus' Ultimate, Siege Cannon, launches three detonators, which can do a lot of damage if your teammates can quickly prime a boss between each shot.
Each Javelin's melee attack needs to be taken into consideration as well. The Ranger's Shock Mace is a primer, while the Colossus' Heavy Smash, Storm's Fiery Strike, and Interceptor's Bladed Daggers are all detonators.
Going Solo Vs. Being A Part Of A Team
In Anthem, it's good practice to have at least two loadouts for each Javelin, one for solo play and another for when you're with others. Because when by yourself, you want a Javelin that can both easily prime and detonate so you're not scrambling against high-powered foes. For example, it's not the best strategy to play by yourself with a Ranger armed with Inferno Grenade and Venom Darts--both of which are primers--as then you'll only be able to detonate a combo with the Javelin's Ultimate. It's a great loadout, however, when playing with another player who's armed with a powerful detonator.
By yourself, one of the best Ranger loadouts is Frost Grenade and Seeking Missile if you prefer fighting from long range. This loadout will allow you to keep enemies in place and detonate them from afar. For close range, consider Inferno Grenade and Pulse Blast. Colossus has a devastating solo build with Lightning Coil and Flamethrower, and it'll put you right in the enemy's face where the Javelin can do the most damage. Interceptor, who also excels at close-range, has two solid solo loadouts: Cyro Glaive and Tempest Strike for those who prefer to shoot firearms or Venom Spray and Spark Dash if you enjoy using melee attacks and a hit-and-run playstyle. You've got a ton of choices for solo builds with Storm, since most of its primers and detonators are really good and can be mixed and matched.