So I think I’m going to start out this review with a few things that colored my experience while playing Anthem. I’d like to give you a little background on me. I am an experienced PC MMO player. Maybe not the best ever, but certainly been around the block a time or two. That block also includes more than one game played right from their release date. TERA and Star Wars: The Old Republic are two that come to mind.
First, the review was based on the fact that no BETA ever, since the dawn of mankind, worked perfectly. I’m fully aware of that fact, and I point it out to make sure you do, too. It’s the whole reason to do a beta test. Beta’s are “let’s see what messes up and let’s fix it before the game officially goes live”. Its testing a game that is just out of its infancy to see if it can stand, or at best, toddle a bit.
Second, there is one common thing among any and all newly sprung games: bugs. Bugs, bugs, bugs. Bugs and glitches for days. You can’t get away from that fact. Just as Chad Robertson mentioned in a blog post on Anthem’s website, a lot of the craziness that went on in the first live demo weekend were things they could not have anticipated. You can internal test until everything starts to look a little fuzzie, but it’s not until the game does some heavy lifting that the real weaknesses start to show themselves.
So now that we all understand these points, let’s talk about Anthem.
Overall, I had a lot of fun playing it. That despite the lag, which sometimes made shooting or flight accuracy a little challenging. I liked the tiered challenge levels so that people can experience the same dungeon but with varying levels of difficulty. It’s especially useful if you want to try out a particular javelin without constantly getting your butt handed to you. There is still a little of that anyway. Even on Easy difficulty, there are parts of the only Stronghold available, Tyrant Mines, where the the mobs swarmed. Its where teamwork really played an important part. One of my favorite mechanisms of the game comes into play here. If your or a teammate’s javelin is critically damaged (ie. dies) then any of the people on your team can repair (ie rez) your javelin so that you can come back fighting. There doesn’t seem to be a cooldown or mechanic limit to this function, which, I’m sure, will make future Strongholds easier to deal with in a harder difficulty. Another mechanism of my favorite mechanics is the Port to Team function. I’m not sure that’s the official title of it, but essentially if you have fallen off a cliff, gotten lost and get too far away from your team, the game automatically ports you within a certain radius of where your team is. This feature is particularly great for me, who has a serious lack of spatial awareness. And I definitely used the crap out of it as I was playing.
One of my biggest beefs with the game is they throw you into the game and hope you can swim. This is especially frustrating because each of the javelin types have different play styles and different ways of operating their combinations and abilities. Now this might be ok for people like my husband who seem to have a knack for picking up a game and ‘get’ it right from the beginning. For those of us who are not so blessed, it would be nice to have a tutorial or practice room so that one can get a basic understanding of their javelin’s abilities. More experienced players will also feel less like they are carrying newer players along while the newbies struggle to figure out their javelin. And No, just reading a overview on a website, or watching someone play on YouTube does not count as a tutorial, unless of course the kind person has made the video to BE a tutorial, in which case, shame on EA for making members of the community feel the need to do this.
Another problem I had was the inability to communicate with my teammates. There was a situation where a bug prevented us from finishing a Stronghold. But there was no way to communicate this to the other people on the team. We ran around trying to figure things out and ultimately had to leave the group. It’s my understanding that they intend to implement a VoiP system for communication before release day, rather than a text box. In my opinion there are a couple of possible problems with this. First, trolls are everywhere. I believe that most gamers are good people, but there are some that I feel would be more than happy to use the VoiP as a way of abusing and mocking team members. Second, what if you don’t have the ability to use VoiP? No headset or mic? What if you are deaf or mute? What if you are a young player, and the parents don’t want you talking to strangers over VoiP? There are a myriad of reasons that make VoiP the sole means of communication unwise.
And lastly, flight and swimming in the game. Oh, how I wanted to love it so much. But I just didn’t. This will probably be another example of something that needs to be tweaked before the game goes live, but both made the game almost unplayable for certain circumstances. The steering mechanism seemed to not want to respond one minute and then you find yourself running into a wall because it suddenly made a 90 degree turn. I even went and maxed out mouse sensitivity thinking that might improve maneuverability but it didn’t seem to make any difference. I hope sincerely that they fix this aspect of the game before release.
I could go over the few other bugs that were particularly irritating (damn you, overly shaky camera!) while playing the beta, but I won’t. From what I’ve seen on Reddit, Twitter and others, seems that the devs are fully aware of the bugs needing to be fixed before release day on February 22. I have full confidence that some of the bigger ones affecting overall gameplay and functionality will be fixed. And I hope eventually to master my Storm javelin. To the team that carried my ineffectual and blundering butt through Tyrant Mines, I apologize. I’ll have plenty of time after February 22 to inflict myself on other unsuspecting teams.
~~~ Scrappywheelz ~~~