Review: Anthem (PlayStation 4)

Unleash Your Power. In a world left unfinished by the gods, a shadowy faction threatens all humankind. Only you stand between the Dominion and the ancient power they covet. Team up as heroes in this cooperative action-RPG from BioWare

Pros:

  • Gorgeous graphics.
  • 42.80GB Download size.
  • Platinum trophy.
  • Access ability options: colorblind support, change font size, voiced menu selections.
  • ARPG adventure gameplay.
  • Opening and ongoing tutorial support.
  • Can skip cutscenes.
  • Daily/weekly/monthly trials.
  • Four Javelin suits- Storm, Ranger, Colossus and the Interceptor. Each is unique and plays differently bring different abilities and stats.
  • Forge-here you can change loadouts/customize and craft weapons and gear. Detailed paint editor where you can paint individual parts.
  • Six difficulties–easy/normal/hard with a further 3 higher difficulties that unlock at level 30.
  • Factions- you do tasks and talk to people to raise your rep with each faction and uncover each factions story.
  • Privacy- public/private and an invite system.
  • Co-op for 2-4 players online.
  • Catch-up system in play. Lower level players rank up faster and get a buff so they can compete on the same level as the higher rank.
  • Free play mode- open world free roam. Events occur in the world and you can do what you want and find collectibles, farm materials etc.
  • Mission select hub- choose a mission, set difficulty, stronghold and free play shortcuts, invite friends, set privacy and add any consumables(one time buffs)
  • Earn exp and level up to unlock new javelins and gear levels and drops are tied to your level. In the game you get, EXP popups for things like multi-kills and weak point kills etc.
  • Materials are scattered around the game world and are used for crafting.
  • Exp is shared between all players, you get more exp in a group and you only see your own loot and drops.
  • Health and ammo packs drop from enemies.
  • The rarity of gear and drops- common, uncommon, rare, epic and masterworks.
  • Loot drops as a triangular pod and makes a satisfying noise when you pick it up.
  • In engine cutscenes.
  • Fort Taris is your main hub where you use the Fort, shops and get missions and contracts and talk with NPC.
  • Social space is a smaller hub where up to 8 players can all join and chat, has a forge/shop/mission selector.
  • Conversation with NPC garner multiple choice interactions.
  • Very flashy and colorful as all the explosions go off.
  • The crafting system allows you to craft weapons/armor/buffs etc. You earn blueprints from doing contracts and missions.
  • You have two levels. You have your rank (tied to EXP and 30 is the max)and power level (tied to your gear and increases as you craft/collect new gear)
  • 3 strongholds. One initially then 2 after finishing the campaign. Strongholds are set experiences like strikes in Destiny.
  • Shop- in-game purchases for items (stock rotates) and crafting items. Rewards section.
  • Rejoin session option if you get booted or blue screened.
  • Repeatable contracts.
  • Combo system–you have two equipable slots and you set a primer and an explosive to each slot and combo-ing them yields higher damage and bonuses. An example is shooting them with acid darts then a homing missile. You get a visual on getting a combo as well as a Loud chime.
  • Contracts are missions and you can unlock legendary (harder) contracts.
  • At mission en,d you get an EXP breakdown and can salvage/look at any collected loot.
  • In game emotes.
  • Flying in your Javelin is really well done, easy to control and looks cool AF.
  • The story whilst predictable is actually varied and not that bad to play.
  • Many collectibles in the game like finding location  Names and descriptions, hidden markings you scan.
  • Strong gunplay.
  • Many HUD options allowing you to customise every part of it.
  • Codex- fills in as you discover items and scans. The Codex acts as a source of all info.
  • 3rd person perspective.
  • Strong orchestral soundtrack.

Cons:

  • Long loading screens and the sheer volume of them is off putting.
  • Audio can cut out suddenly.
  • Very basic character creator.
  • Menu upon menu acting more like an interactive encyclopedia.
  • In freeplay, you get no markers, cannot set a waypoint or anything.
  • A lot of reading.
  • Missions not triggering or progress not being recognised.
  • Constant pop ups of codex entries.
  • Not everything is explained.
  • IAP for shards.
  • Movement in the hub is really slow and feels like you are stuck in the mud trying to run away from the loading screens.
  • Changing load outs is a pain. Cannot be done in the game and instead, you have to go back to the hub then back to the forge.
  • Loot is unknown until the mission end.
  • A lot of slowdown and lag.
  • Prompts don’t always work.
  • Invisible enemies.
  • Forced cutscenes in Co op.
  • Choices with NPC have no bearing on anything.
  • Can’t try out Javelins before you pick which one to unlock.
  • The upgrade loop is horrible, you level up then have to craft each individual piece of gear for just a small increase in power level.
  • When downed you can do nothing at all but move the camera. You cannot quit, spectate or even access the menu.
  • Geomatry clashes.
  • Only a handful of guns, the main difference is just the rate of fire.
  • The loot lust and frequency only meaningfully increases when you hit a high level.
  • Flying is a stop starter with you constantly having to land and cool down then fly again.
  • Story is all told as a single player affair but the game openly encourages you to play in Co op.
  • Out of mission range is a pop up you get as soon as you go one pixel behind the lead player in a mission. The game will then give you a timer to catch up otherwise it will fast track you via a loading screen. It is in fact possible to get stuck loading in to the only load in again and again.
  • Strongholds are fun but the rewards are not good.
  • Having loot tied to your level breaks the game overall. Why play on harder difficulties and/or help others on hard when you can just install kill on easy and still get the high level drops.
  • Even at level 30 you still get low level drops.
  • The world whilst looking amazing is a surprisingly dead empty world with so little going on.
  • World size dissappears quickly as you constantly go to the same locations over and over.
  • No way to rebind controls, changing weapons is press and hold a button which is not fluid.
  • Took about 40 hours and after that, you are max level and have no real progression apart from running contracts and getting a new decal or something.
  • Difficulty setting is just a name. It doesn’t carry a power level limit or anyway to stop low level players from joining. Yes, it can help boost a player a bit to try and balance but it’s not as powerful as it could be.
  • Music when you hear it is good but it’s never really used!
  • No fast travel.
  • Small pool of mission types and are go here kill that then go here and kill a boss or more enemies, gather fragments and kill waves of enemies, hold onto a point and kill waves of enemies. That’s it over and over.

  • 9/10
    Graphics - 9/10
  • 7/10
    Sound - 7/10
  • 7/10
    Accessability - 7/10
  • 7/10
    Length - 7/10
  • 7/10
    Fun Factor - 7/10
7.4/10

Summary

Anthem, we have waited so long and it’s now here. I can honestly say I am no closer to knowing if I actually like the game or not. I have put 60 odd hours in a short period of time into the game. The thing is and il be honest, I do enjoy playing it with a mate, the shooting is great and once you get the loot lust it’s satisfying. Thing is it takes so long to get going. I mean loading is long and constant, OK, example. You finish a level and check out your loot, you then go to the forge and put on the new gear. That’s a loading screen, then you leave, that’s a loading screen, then you go to the hub and walk slowly around and talk to people for small rep gain then pick a mission and another long load screen. Depending on the game you may have to wait in game for others to join or for the marker to actually show up. I mean Christ on a bike going downhill. The story is nothing new and so predictable it’s nonexistent. The combo system which caused some controversy in the gaming world is actually one of the best additions. Triggering a combo is so satisfying and looks cool. Just a shame it turns combat into shoot your specials then shoot until specials cool down then shoot, rinse and repeat. Enemies, well there are 3 types and they act differently but you see them so often that they begin to meld into one and then grow repetitive and dull. Boss battles are just bullet sponges, the revive system is archaic and crap. The environment looks jaw dropping but the actual world is dead and lifeless, few signs of life but no way near enough volume needed to fill the world with life and purpose. Man Anthem is a game that just grates on me, it has potential but it will take time and I ain’t reviewing a game on what it might be, it’s what it is at the time of playing. With that said I personally find Anthem a marmite game that is fun at times but also painfully slow and dull at others. In short, Anthem is its name but it doesn’t have the rhythm.

Jim Smale

Gaming since the Atari 2600, I enjoy the weirdness in games counting Densha De Go and RC De Go as my favourite titles of all time. I prefer gaming of old where buying games from a shop was a thing, Being social in person was a thing. Join me as I attempt to adapt to this new digital age!

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