In Review

Anthem reviews: critics turn on ‘disappointing’ Destiny rival

Mass Effect creator’s futuristic open-world adventure misses the mark

The long wait for one of this year’s most anticipated games is finally over, as Anthem releases on PC and consoles today.

Developed by BioWare, the EA-owned company behind the hugely-successful Mass Effect and Dragon Age franchises, Anthem is a futuristic open-world multiplayer game that puts players in the shoes of jetpack-wearing super soldiers.

The game was first shown last June during Microsoft’s conference at the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) and was due to be released in the autumn. But BioWare confirmed last year that the game’s release would be pushed backed to late February.

With the game now available to pick up in the shops, here’s everything we know about BioWare’s next adventure: 

Where can you order?

Orders are open on Amazon now. The PS4 and Xbox One editions of the game can be bought for £45 and £55 respectively, while PC players pay £50.


Anthem has “always been” BioWare’s answer to Bungie’s Destiny, a hugely popular online-only game set across several futuristic planets, says Metro. Aside from some major differences, such as Anthem’s third-person perspective versus Destiny’s first-person gameplay, BioWare’s sci-fi game is “unashamedly similar” to its rival.  

There are elements of deep “storytelling experience” that BioWare is known for, but Metro argues that this area is one of the game’s “great weaknesses”. That’s because Anthem has a “very complex backstory, which has the unfortunate problem of being hopelessly confusing and not in the slightest bit interesting”.

The Guardian agrees, calling Anthem’s plot “entirely disposable” and completely void of “meaningful opportunities for character development”. “It’s disappointing to see BioWare fail to deliver in the area where the studio is historically most adept.”

However, “poor storytelling” isn’t the only problem the game has, the newspaper remarks. Most missions have players “flying through pretty but empty environments” using their Javelin “mech suits”, before shooting “waves of enemies” repeatedly.  

But it isn’t all doom and gloom for BioWare’s multiplayer game. For instance, each mission can be played with other players online, which Destructoid calls a “welcome design choice”, but there’s also the option to complete levels solo by creating a private match. 

There are also four classes of characters to choose from, which lets gamers shake up the way they play Anthem by employing different weapon combinations and class-specific skills, the site says. 

Anthem succeeds more as an online RPG (role-playing game) than it does at telling players an intricate story, but it “only does so after a trying grind through its repetitive main quests” says IGN

Players will be hoping BioWare “can capitalise on its strengths and turn Anthem into something worth investing all these hours into”, but the reviews site believes “there’s a lot of work to be done to reach that point”.

What is Anthem about?

According to Polygon, Anthem is a sci-fi role-playing game (RPG) set in a futuristic world where “humanity is on the verge of collapse.” 

Players are put in the shoes of “freelancers” who are jetpack-wearing super soldiers. They are sent on missions to “collect resources and take on enemy combatants”, the tech site says.

Although details of the story are scarce, BioWare has confirmed that players will be tasked with defending the world of Anthem and its inhabitants from the Dominion, an enemy group hunting for ancient relics scattered across an alien planet, says iNews

Unlike BioWare’s previous titles, which focused on single-player gameplay, Anthem is foremost a multiplayer game. 

It’s a “shared-world” game similar to Destiny where players compete missions with the assistance of other gamers online, says Gamespot.

Players will be able to customise their character with new armour pieces, weapons and equipment, the games site says. 

There will also be a host of characters with their own backstories and missions. These characters have been created by the developers and cannot be controlled by human players. 

Will there be loot boxes?

No, which should come as a relief to fans. 

In recent years, games published by EA have come under fire from fans and critics for employing loot boxes, a system that allows players to receive random upgrades by spending their own money. 

The issue came to a head with 2017’s Star Wars Battlefront 2. Fans claimed that players who spent more money on loot boxes gained an advantage in multiplayer sessions. 

Thankfully BioWare lead producer Michael Gamble confirmed earlier this year that Anthem wouldn’t feature the controversial system.

Responding to a fan on Twitter, Gamble said loot boxes served “no purpose” and that the only in-game items players could buy with real money –commonly referred to as micro-transactions – were new designs for giant robot suits called Javelins. 

According to the tech site DualShockers, these designs are not related to the story and don’t give players an advantage in multiplayer games.


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