Thoughts on the Anthem demo

BioWare held their VIP demo of Anthem over the weekend, and while I could talk about the technical issues that occurred, I don’t really understand why they happened so I’m just gonna talk about the game itself. Anthem – for the uninitiated – is a third-person shooter/Iron Man simulator that has you fighting for survival against hordes of strange enemies. Fairly standard shooter stuff really isn’t it?

Well I managed to play through the available missions and the fort as well, a process which took a while thanks to aforementioned technical hiccoughs. Let’s dig in with the visuals. The world in which Anthem takes place is beautiful. I mean, it’s not like anyone was expecting anything other than that really, after all, BioWare have been doing Alien worlds for a long time. The surface world is truly stunning, with lush greenery and flowing rivers aplenty for you to fly above or traipse through. The cave systems are less visually impactful, but still have a few good-looking features, usually underwater though.

The weapons feel fine for the most part. Fine isn’t what I was hoping for though. I don’t know if it’s just because of the vanilla weapons you spend most of the demo with, but it didn’t set my world on fire. Though some of the grenades did freeze it, which was pretty impressive.

The highlight in Anthem is the traversal. You can walk, run, jump, dash, hover, and fly. That’s a list from least interesting to most in my opinion. While the controls are a little odd to begin with once you’ve adjusted, you’ll be flying around with no issue. It is fantastic. My favourite thing was flying at the ground. Sounds a little self-destructive but there’s a good reason to do so. As you hit the ground your character immediately, and seamlessly, transitions into a sprint. It feels great.

To be honest the missions where all a little basic, though some of the implications of them where interesting. The trouble with a demo like this is that it asks you to be invested in characters you don’t know. It’s hard to worry about someone you’ve never met in a game, it just isn’t how things work. That isn’t the fault of Anthem though, more an issue with these little vertical slices we see.

The demo had me feeling very mixed for the most part, though separating my feelings on the game itself from those I had about being booted to the title screen regularly is hard to do. The worst thing about the demo on the whole is this though: why the hell was I stuck as the regular javelin?

I don’t want to be a basic soldier, I’ve never chosen the straight forward class in my life, and I never will. So, I was feeling a little off about the whole thing. Then, well then, I unlocked the Storm javelin. Why wasn’t this available from the start? It felt like a completely different game. I went from being barely able to hover to being airborne nearly all the time. I changed my weapons out for the ability to freeze enemies solid and call down lightning strikes. This is how I play games. This got me very excited about the game itself. I am now looking forward to getting stuck in with friends as different classes. I just don’t understand why it wasn’t available straight away.

Jason Coles

Updated: Jan 28, 2019

Get involved
Continue the conversation over on The Digital Fix Forum
Thoughts on the Anthem demo | The Digital Fix