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The VIP demo for BioWare's co-operative action-RPG Anthem should be going live today, January 25, 2019. As a result, we can check out plenty of promotional coverage from a wide range of media outlets. But before we do that, let's watch the official VIP Demo trailer:
Then, if you have an hour and a half of free time, you can also watch this VIP Demo world premiere from IGN, featuring BioWare's producer Scylla Costa:
Moving on to the actual previews, here's what PCGamesN has to say about Anthem:
The thrill of flight in Anthem’s mech suits is intoxicating. Missions typically commence on the edge of a precipice, urging you to attack the glittering horizons of this beguiling world head on. With a jump and an explosive boost, you’re away, and exhilarating, drug-like freedom follows.
It won’t be long before you feel comfortable with your Javelin, but you’ll need to keep an eye on your heat meter. Boost over-enthusiastically, or speed too high without stopping, and you’ll need to cool off or throttle your energy use by plunging downwards. Alternatively, if you’re anything like me, you’ll plummet unceremoniously to the ground in a heap of scrap metal, ordnance, and shame. Icarus who?
Your heat meter prevents you from being an Iron Man-esque god, but that’s a good thing: it forces you to think even when you’re in the throes of a tough battle. For instance, fire-spewing wyverns will cripple your suit in flight, forcing you to dodge and get some quick shots away. Managing your suit, flying, and keeping your enemies in check feels like juggling on a tightrope, and it’ll take hours of practice before you master all the skills your Javelin offers. Objectives in the style of ‘scan the thing’ and ‘secure an area’ might not sound exciting, but they are the springboard for you to show off your abilities as you cultivate them.
Here's Polygon's take:
Bosses require that I make use of terrain for cover, of which there is a lot, at least in the early combat sequences. When I kill enemies, I move as fast as I can to collect health, bullets, and twinkly loot, but this puts me at risk of high-impact boss attacks and high-damage lasers fired from tall pillars. I wonder why my teammates haven’t taken these placements out.
At times, I fall prey to some enemy attack and am stuck in a pillar of ice. On other occasions, I’m engulfed in flames. If I’m close to the end of my health, I can try to find a quiet spot to get better, but recovery time is slow, so flitting in and out of the fight is not a sustainable option. Later, when I’m playing as a Ranger, I note how much quicker I can evade incoming attacks with rolls and dodges.
The Colossus’ big weapons are excellent. The first is a mortar that I aim and lob into the heart of enemy packs, or at a boss. The second is a wave of energy that fires out in a wide arc, at eye level. I did not play enough to craft or collect tons of alternative options, but judging by the basic loadout, I feel optimistic about the later weapons we’ve seen listed so far.
And here are some impressions from WCCFTech:
Anthem’s potential is sky-high. The game’s action is fast, fun, and frantic, especially when playing with friends. Unfortunately, everything surrounding the game’s basic “make aliens go boom” core feels underbaked, which is a touch surprising considering this game has been in the oven for at least six years. Technical issues abound and the game just doesn’t feel as cohesive as it should. Will Anthem find an audience? I think it will, eventually, but I also fear BioWare may have to endure another rocky launch first. Let’s hope EA and BioWare stick with Anthem long enough for it to hit its crescendo.
You can also check out this story-focused interview from The Verge:
Anthem will still have larger story expansions down the road, but what makes the game so different from the studio’s past work is the moments that will happen in between those major story beats. Mark Darrah started working on Anthem last year, after years of working as executive producer on the Dragon Age series, and he says that those large gaps between updates that happen in the traditional expansion / downloadable content model have always been a problem for BioWare.
“What ends up happening is that, because it takes so much effort to deliver content, that content naturally gets larger, because why would you spend all of this time on something tiny?” he explains. “It kind of takes on a life of its own. I think there’s a power and an opportunity for us to have these very small moments of worldbuilding and storytelling, which can happen much more frequently. It changes the nature of the relationship with the people who are playing. With traditional DLC, it’s like you’re releasing another tiny game. This is more like a conversation.”
Unfortunately, we don’t have any specific examples for the kinds of story events that players can expect. BioWare designers have mentioned weather as an important factor; storms that start out small, but slowly grow into something huge and dangerous, and create important events that are connected to Anthem’s lore. The wildlife, likewise, can be adjusted in real time to better reflect what’s happening in the game. Creatures may disappear for a mysterious reason, or become more prominent due to some mystical event. These events can then tie directly into larger story beats, using the world itself to pull you in.
While We Got This Covered brings us an interview that focuses on the game's seasonal events and content updates:
As you’ve been developing Anthem, watching games like Destiny, like the Division, the mistakes they’ve made, the things that have really brought them closer to their community, what kind of lessons do you think you’ve learned for this kind of a game going forward?
Mike Gamble: Good question … One thing that I think, maybe we didn’t learn directly from any particular game, but we learned from the internet, is that players value transparency more than anything. They value a direct connection with the developers to be able to talk and air grievances, and I think players would rather know that something is a certain way ahead of time, even if it makes them upset, rather than holding that back … It’s a big thing to form a relationship with the people who are gonna play the game for a while, we think
So kind of a silly question here: my favorite thing in these kinds of games is seasonal events–Halloween events, Christmas events–are you planning on having those kinds of things in Anthem?
MG: Definitely. I love that stuff too, that’s one of the reasons I’m still playing Overwatch so many years out is because of the events and the effort that they put into those.
Finally, PC Gamer shares some info on Anthem's social hub:
BioWare's upcoming third-person shooter Anthem will mix shared-world shooting for up to four players, across missions and open-world exploration, with a single-player story that unfolds in Fort Tarsis, the home base of the Freelancers. But producer Mike Gamble revealed today that it will also offer a multiplayer hub called the Launch Bay, where as many as 16 players can get together to prep for new missions or just hang out and be social.