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Feature Article

BioWare's Anthem At E3 2018's EA Play: What We Hope To See

Keep your heart, play your part in BioWare's new game.

There's a lot of excitement around Anthem leading into E3 2018 since it's BioWare's next big project and new IP. Expectations are high given this is a franchise debut from the same studio that brought us a slew of iconic RPGs: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect, and Baldur's Gate to name a few. To prepare you for what's ahead, here's what we know about Anthem, as well as what we're hoping to see from it at this year's E3.

What We Know So Far

Currently, we know that Anthem isn't going to be structured like the developer's previous story-based RPGs and instead will take on qualities of loot-based online shooters, like Destiny and The Division. However, BioWare boss Casey Hudson said the game “will feel very distinctly BioWare” and is more accurately described as “science-fantasy.” While the initial reveal at E3 2017 kicked off with a few minutes of narrative and world-building, it quickly delved into a two-player co-operative PvE gameplay sequence where you fight robotic enemies and wildlife both big and small. Towards the end of the reveal trailer, a shaper storm (where weather turned hostile) formed and two additional players jumped in making a party of four. It has also been confirmed that the game will still be playable on your own.

When it comes to the world of Anthem, we understand that players belong to a faction of operatives known as freelancers who don mechanized suits called javelins--think the Fallout power armor, but much more flexible and with jetpacks. The first descent into a lush, tropical environment showed off the versatility of movement with the player weaving through the terrain. In combat, we saw the javelin suit capable of a lock-on rocket barrage--one of the abilities on cooldown at the bottom of the HUD. And we witnessed a co-op partner execute a sort of ground pound ability for area-of-effect damage.

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Given the style Anthem is going for, loot will be the centerpiece for equipment, which we had a glimpse of in last year's reveal; a level 35 legendary volt rifle called Jarra's Wrath was a reward at the end of big firefight. Based on information shown on-screen during the reveal, weapons will have specific statistics like range, damage, accuracy, rate of fire, and ammo count.

BioWare stated that it's solely focused on development for Anthem after making it clear that Mass Effect: Andromeda will not have new content or story-based DLC. Despite the all-hands-on-deck approach, Anthem was delayed from its initial Fall 2018 release window to sometime in Early 2019. As with many EA-published games, there will be a period in which subscribers to EA/Origin Access can play the game ahead of its full launch date. EA CEO Andrew Wilson also stated, "Anthem is a fundamentally social experience, and we will open new ways for fans to join the community and play early, enabling us to shape and refine the game with their input and feedback." This could imply a beta period, which is common for multiplayer-centric games. If anything, EA is anticipating continually tweaking the game with post-release updates and content.

Even though it was specifically showcased during Microsoft's E3 press conference last year, Anthem will release for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Oh yeah, and there was a sweet trailer where game director Jon Warner takes us to a corn maze.

What's Confirmed For E3?

Anthem will be heavily featured at EA Play, which is EA's own off-site E3 event that runs from June 9 to June 11. Alongside the upcoming Battlefield V, Anthem is one of the focal points according to publisher. It hasn't been confirmed if the game will be playable to those who attend, but EA said it'll offer a closer look at the game. And even though Anthem was revealed during Microsoft's stage show in 2017, it's unclear if it'll be part of the Xbox showcase again this year.

What We Hope To See At E3

With this being a new BioWare IP, we hope to see how the developer's knack for storytelling is woven into a multiplayer experience. This could come in many forms; perhaps some backstory to accompany playable sections or a more in-depth showcase of the world that the freelancers inhabit. What exactly is it they're fighting for? What is the prevailing force behind its hostile world? BioWare isn't a stranger to this given its work on the MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic, but it's a whole other challenge when building a franchise from scratch.

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Another important aspect we hope to be addressed is the depth and breadth of content that makes up Anthem. That's to say, we hope the game is taking note of where Destiny 2 falls short. It's fair to say that many players are concerned about having meaningful goals to work towards. Almost anyone going into E3 with Anthem excitement wants to know about quest structure, mission types, how progression works, and how it can be more than just compilation of combat sequences. It'd also be nice to know about the loot system and what types of weapons or javelin modifications we can mess with. It appears that javelin suits come with their own set of powers and could be a factor in making combat more complex. The teaser trailer focused a great deal on these suits, which has us thinking that Anthem's progression system is centered around building these suits and customizing their capabilities. We'd love for BioWare to unpack what javelin suits can do seeing as their abilities affect both combat and traversal.

We had a taste of Anthem's world in E3 2017, and its scale, verticality, and varied terrain certainly caught our eye. The ability to fly through the sky and take huge leaps across the environment has piqued our interest, but we want BioWare to tell us more about what there is to see on the other end.

Further Reading

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    highammichael

    Michael Higham

    Associate Editor at GameSpot. Southeast San Diego to the Bay. I've been gaming since I was five years old, why stop now?
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