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BioWare's Technical Design Director Brenon Holmes has recently been answering some Anthem-related questions on Reddit, which prompted the folks at IGN to put together an article that allows us to read his answers all conveniently arranged in one place. So, if you'd like to know more about Anthem's setting, mechanics, or the (lack of) impact Drew Karpyshyn's recent departure from the studio had on the sci-fi action-RPG, you need look no further. A few snippets:
It's Dangerous to Go Alone
At the core of Anthem’s gameplay is the Javelin, a customizable exosuit worn by Freelancers, the in-universe name for the playable characters tasked with protecting humanity. There are different classes of Javelins — Colossus and Ranger are the first to be revealed — and, according to Holmes, they are essential for venturing beyond the safety of Fort Tarsis’ walls.
Even the “smallest ‘non-hostile’ creatures” in Anthem “probably eat humans,” said Holmes, making exploration without a Javelin nearly impossible. He added the team has prototyped gameplay outside the exosuit, and “while it was a really cool atmosphere thing,” they found players “didn’t really have a lot of combat interaction beyond getting eaten.”
“The larger problem had to do with getting stuck,” said Holmes. Since the world is built to be explored in a Javelin, the team often found themselves trapped in environments due to humans' lack of mobility outside the suit.
However, BioWare hasn’t given up on the idea entirely. In response to a fan who suggested scripted missions that take place outside the Javelin, Holmes said, “There's definitely the possibility of some of this kind of stuff down the line — we just need to figure out if there are good ways to deploy it alongside our other types of content.”
During the years-long development process, it's commonplace for a studio to see staff members come and go. However, some fans voiced their concerns this week when acclaimed writer Drew Karpyshyn announced his retirement from BioWare.
The studio's GM, Casey Hudson, responded to one such concern on Twitter, saying Karpyshyn finished his work on Anthem and the "Lead Writers and their teams continue to do amazing work developing the world, story, and characters." Holmes then followed up on Hudson's comment, revealing the game's lead writers are Cathleen Rootsaert and Jay Watamaniuk. Both Rootsaert and Watamaniuk are credited as writers on Mass Effect 3 and Mass Effect: Andromeda.