Takeaways from 20 minutes of Anthem gameplay


You can turn off the damage numbers!

Following its E3 showing, BioWare has released an extended look at Anthem.

While there are still plenty of unknowns about the “social co-op action-RPG,” today’s video is a great primer if you’re coming in fresh. If you just want to bounce around and aren’t averse to reading bullet points, I’ve gone ahead and broken out some highlights and other stray observations from the footage.

  • As a Freelancer you’ll have access to a four-legged mobile forward base of operations called a Strider, complete with your own crew. From inside the base, you’ll be able to equip your Javelin exosuit with gear, weapons, and abilities; customize your appearance (Anthem has paid cosmetics); and venture out on Expeditions (missions).
  • When starting an Expedition, you’ll squad up with friends, guildmates, other players, or simply go it alone. Missions have adjustable difficulty options (presumably affecting rewards). Today’s footage comes from “Scars and Villainy” played on Normal difficulty.
  • Javelins are handcrafted and passed down from generation to generation. This is my favorite bit of worldbuilding revealed so far and I hope BioWare really leans into it.
  • There are four Javelin classes — Ranger, Colossus, Interceptor, and Storm — and you can specialize by changing your loadout to, say, focus more on close-quarters combat.
  • It wouldn’t be this type of sci-fi loot-driven shooter without some sort of guiding voice. Cyphers narrate and provide “valuable intel.”
  • Scars, an invading alien force, are in direct opposition to Freelancers. They seek ancient technology the Shapers (gods) used to create the world. This game has lore, y’all.
  • Missions can be joined in-progress, and “friends of any level can play together to earn experience and great rewards.” Illustrating that point, the footage shows a level-one player teaming up with level-thirty players.
  • Emergent world events can pop up mid-Expedition. One example includes a hulking humanoid-looking Titan (which the players promptly flew past because it was “way too powerful” for their squad).
  • Javelins can go underwater and that’s just swell.
  • Strongholds are a challenging four-player activity and a source of greater rewards. After finding a Stronghold, you’ll be able to access it right from your map at the start of any Expedition. Also, “There is an additional Elder Game mode that we will talk about later.”
  • Certain abilities — like lightning storm and a rail gun — can combo for extra damage. All-caps “COMBO!” text even pops up on afflicted enemies. (Speaking of which, if the large damage indicators are distracting and you want to turn them off, you can.)
  • Whether it’s day or night will affect the types of creatures you’ll go up against.
  • Loot is meant to gradually make players more powerful, of course, but also provide more loadouts “to tackle a wide variety of different situations.”
  • Collectible lore, items, and materials are scattered around the world.
  • The spider-like alien boss with weak points that can be shot for “massive bonus damage” made me grin.
  • All of the Javelins have their own type of ultimate ability.

While the story remains Anthem‘s biggest question mark (and I don’t see that changing until the game is out and we’ve gone through it ourselves), I think BioWare has nailed the exosuit’s aerial movement, the shooting looks fun enough, and the world already seems like one I want to explore in depth.

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