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Feature Article

Anthem: Review, Guides, Release Times, And What We Know

Armored and ready.

Anthem is an upcoming game from fan-favorite RPG studio BioWare, who are most known for its work on Mass Effect and Dragon Age. Following in the footsteps of the studio's previous efforts, Anthem is a third-person action-RPG. You play as a Freelancer, a mercenary of sorts who pilots an exosuit called a Javelin in order to explore an alien world and defend its inhabitants from dangerous creatures and wandering hostile marauders. The game's release technically falls later this week, but it's already playable on Xbox One and PC for many people, and we've already published some early review impressions to give you an idea of what to expect.

The game was first revealed at Microsoft's E3 2017 presentation. Since then BioWare has released a smattering of details concerning Anthem's systems and a handful of gameplay footage, and we've had a chance to play the game and talk to its developers about what to expect. To ensure you're kept up to date on everything there is to know about Anthem, we've compiled all the information we have on the game so far: our early review impressions, how it plays, its release date, and more.

Review Impressions

"Anthem has good ideas, but it struggles significantly with the execution. It's a co-op game that works best with no one talking; it buries genuinely interesting character moments and puts its most incomprehensible story bits at the forefront; its combat is exciting until you get to the boss fights and find your wings have been clipped. Even the simple, exhilarating act of flying is frequently interrupted by the limitations of your javelin, and you never quite shake that feeling of disappointment--of knowing, throughout the good parts of Anthem, that you'll inevitably come crashing back down," says Reviews Editor Kallie Plagge. Read the full review. You can also check out what other critics thought in our review roundup.

How It Plays

Anthem bears a resemblance to games like Destiny and The Division, in that it's a shared-world multiplayer shooter where you create a custom character, complete missions, collect loot, and upgrade your character's weapons and equipment. All the while, there's a main story campaign packed with NPCs with their own unique stories who you can build relationships with. There's some player choice thrown in, but don't expect the same multi-branching dialogue choices seen in previous BioWare games.

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Anthem Gameplay Reveal Trailer - E3 2017

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While inherently an online cooperative multiplayer game, it's possible to experience all of Anthem by yourself. That said, both camps can be affected by live events, which alter the world in subtle yet significant ways. For example, reality-distorting rifts known as Shaper Storms are events that can pop up and cause unexpected dangers. A day-and-night cycle and dynamic weather system also serve to mix up gameplay experiences, affecting the types of enemies you encounter.

When you're not out fighting or exploring the world of Anthem, you're spending time in Fort Tarsis, a safe haven that acts as the game's central hub. When in the fort, you can customize your Javelin, acquire new missions, rest in your personal home base, and interact with other players. In an intriguing shift from normal play, you assume a first-person perspective when inside Fort Tarsis. Refer to the E3 2017 footage above for a brief taste of what it looks like to accept a mission request in Fort Tarsis and then deploy into battle with your Javelin. In practice, Fort Tarsis feels a bit like Mass Effect's Normandy, where you can engage in conversations and learn more about the characters. Apparently, your actions and choices in conversations will have cause some changes to the world, too.

Combat has its share of shooting, but it's mostly about combining your abilities with those of your squadmates to create combos. Those consist of Primer abilities, which usually afflict enemies with status effects, and Detonator abilities, which create a chain reaction for big damage. Combos are essential to winning tough fights against bosses and other high-level enemies. Our Combo Guide has everything you need to know about how they work.

You're not completely blocked from customizing your Javelin when out in the field. You do have access to a Stryder, a forward operating base where you can tinker and rest in-between expeditions.

Release Date And Times, Closed Alpha, And Demos

Anthem is set for a full launch February 22; here's everything you need to know about exactly when Anthem goes live in your region. There were some opportunities to play early as well. A free open demo ran February 1-3. On February 15, subscribers to EA's Origin Access Premier service on PC were allowed to play the full game early, and EA Access subscribers on Xbox One and Origin Access Basic subscribers got access the first 10 hours. (For more details on how to purchase Anthem, check out our Anthem pre-order guide).

What Are The Javelin Classes?

The focus of Anthem is its Javelins, which are super-powered Iron Man-like suits that act as player classes. There are four types in total at launch: Ranger, Colossus, Interceptor, and Storm. Each have their own particular abilities, weapons, ultimate attacks, as well as a laundry list of strengths and weaknesses depending on your playstyle. You may equip two weapons to their loadout at a given time and can cycle out different sets between missions. It's also possible to switch Javelins between missions. Below you can find summaries of each Javelin class.

Ranger: The Ranger is the all-rounder exosuit that's the most versatile of the bunch, appearing to be able to handle most combat situations effectively. Aside from heavy weaponry, it can equip nearly every weapon type under the sun. It balances both ranged and melee attacks and can switch between them in the thick of battle with relative ease. This is the definitive Javelin for beginners.

Colossus: If your interests lean towards heavy weaponry--something that the Ranger isn't readily capable of--then the Colossus is the suit you'll want to spend time with. It is the brute of the game, possessing all manner of firepower, like homing missile launchers, mortars, flame throwers, and heavy cannons. Not to mention it can also topple enemies in its path with its massive chassis and shield. While slow in its movement speed, it does have jet propulsion that can help you get out of harm's way if a battle becomes too hot.

Ranger, Colossus, Interceptor, Storm
Ranger, Colossus, Interceptor, Storm

Interceptor: The Interceptor is the polar opposite of the Colossus in that it's all about agility and mobility. It's incredibly proficient at melee attacks and abilities that can weaken enemies, so expect a lot of hit-and-run tactics when using this flashy and acrobatic Javelin.

Storm: The Storm bears similarity to Destiny's Warlock in that it appears to be Anthem's mage class. As you'd expect from its name, Storm makes use of lethal elemental attacks. Unlike other Javelins, it can effortlessly float above ground for extended periods of time, so as to hail down a barrage of elemental damage. With such power at its fingertips, it has little in the way of defensive capability, which very much makes this Javelin best suited for advanced players.

How Does Matchmaking Work?

Before heading out into the world with your Javelin, you have the option to matchmake with up to three other players. You can choose to either invite friends, fellow guild members, or other like-minded players; you needn't worry about player levels amongst the group as you can join up with anyone without consequence to experience and loot earnings. It's also possible to simply jump out into the world on your own without assembling a squad.

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Anthem Gameplay Demo | E3 2018

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Regardless of how you choose to proceed, you're then prompted to pick either an objective on the map to accomplish or choose Free Play mode where you can explore the world at your own pace. You catch a brief glimpse of matchmaking in the E3 2018 footage above.

What's The Loot System Like?

Like its shared world contemporaries, Anthem features a loot system. The quality of loot you receive is determined by your current pilot level, so even if you're paired with higher-level players, you'll only obtain loot that corresponds to your pilot level. Some loot is drop-specific from certain enemies, while others are earned by completing certain questlines. It's worth noting that loot is instanced, and therefore cannot be stolen by other players.

Loot is divided into six categories denoting its rarity. The names of the loot tier list are as follows: Common, Uncommon, Rare, Epic, Legendary, and Masterwork. Anthem lead producer Ben Irving gave us a full rundown of how loot and progression work, along with how you can expect different equipment to influence teamwork. We've also found some pretty cool guns in our time with the game.

Are There Be Loot Boxes? Microtransactions?

There will be not be loot boxes in Anthem. That said, you can purchase cosmetic items for your Javelin with real or in-game currency--with the exception of cosmetics included with special editions of the game. There will also be armor packs that change the appearance of your Javelin.

What's In The Day One Patch?

Anthem has an extensive patch that changes a lot of things that were in the demo and EA Premiere versions of the game on PC. Though it was called a Day One patch, it's already available. You can read the full patch notes here.

What's In The Endgame?

One of the big questions that BioWare hasn't yet answered is how Anthem will keep you engaged once you've hit the level cap of 30 and beaten the story campaign. We know some of what to expect--you'll complete tough missions called Legendary Contracts and take on dungeons called Strongholds--but long-term live service and loot-chasing are still a little hazy. Here's everything we've seen in the endgame so far, and a rundown of how it all works.

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Anthem Is The Iron Man Game You Always Wanted

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mgespin

Matt Espineli

Matt Espineli is an Editor at GameSpot. He loves MGS, film noir, and westerns, but he very much loves YOU too.
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