Available on Xbox, PS4 and PC, Anthem is the latest major release from big-shot developer BioWare, masterminds behind classics like Dragon Age and Mass Effect. But is it worth the price of admission? Watch our video review to find out:
Don’t have time to watch our review or would rather read about Anthem instead? Below you’ll find all the details contained within the video, just in old-fashioned text-based form. If you’re really in a rush and just want the bare-bones info, then check out of quick and brutal review following the beta:
A Brief Overview of Anthem
Anthem, at its core, is your typical run of the mill loot and shoot game with an MMORPG element bolted on. You play the role of a freelancer, a mech suit wearing merc that travels outside of Fort Tarsis to recover resources and stop the powers of Anthem getting into the wrong hands. Players can either go it alone and choose to take in the vast alien atmosphere yourself or team up with other players, battling to collect items like extra gear and weaponry.
Anthem’s Story: Have BioWare Done It Again?
The story elements of the game aren’t really gripping enough to hold your attention.
In our initial Anthem preview during the beta, the story was thin and didn’t appear to draw us in even then. We were hoping the full game was going offer us a bigger reveal quite honestly, but so far we’ve been pretty disappointed.
It would have been nice to have a unique spin on the typical sci-fi trope rather than the usual evil villain against the human race that we’ve been served up yet again.
We’re not looking to give out too many spoilers, but the skinny of it is that your job is to venture outside of Fort Tarsis into the unknown alien lands and collect resources whilst laying waste to any entity that threatens the human race or your allies. These threats often fall under the control The Monitor, the primary antagonist of the game who seeks the powers of Anthem for some entirely nefarious and quite frankly uninteresting ends.
Given that this game is developed by Bioware, whose previous hits include the Mass Effect series and Dragon Age, we’re fairly surprised to see such a poor showing in terms of narrative. You can indulge yourself in the visual spectacle all you like, something the trailers have been heavily relying upon, but that element only really takes you so far and the story on offer isn’t up to the task of captivating even the most easily satisfied of audiences.
Exploring the Marketplace and Fort Tarsis
There is a strange splitting of points of view in Anthem. A plague that has been spreading through a number of titles and has now made its way to this game.
This may be due to different teams resourcing sections of the game poorly, who knows. But basically, you can run around Fort Tarsis in first person mode. You’d think this would help you get more immersed into the game, but the result is actually that your movement speed is slow, you don’t interact with other players, and it’s just downright boring.
We don’t really understand the pre-launch hype behind this feature, billed as being this beacon of engrossing narrative. It’s dull and a clear filler. The ability to see in first person mode should have really been given outside, in order to take advantage of the beautiful scenery.
As for the actual location. This is your base of operations, and you spend a lot of the game being able to walk or run around Fort Tarsis, often just listening to trivial stories from NPC’s. Now you do get some benefit from this in terms of reputation points, but at FinalBoss, we felt the main protagonist with his mouthy remarks just aren’t engaging and really left us skipping through most of the dialogue.
You’ll also find additional quests and challenges in Fort Tarsis. Typical RPG stuff.
Anthem’s Gameplay: The Saving Grace
The big selling point of this game is (as you would have guessed from the trailers) the gameplay mechanics.
Flying about in your sweet enhanced mech is one of the more remarkable features in this game, acting. You’re basically a faux Iron man, sweeping through the sky taking down the bad guys however you please.
A quick tip here: When flying, be sure to jet under a waterfall or take a break from boosting, as you’ll overheat and end up making a quick descent to the ground.
Each mech suit, or javelin, has its own unique flavour and tactics that can be applied to it, which more than makes up for the poor choice in weapons Bioware decided to throw in the game.
If you’ve played the likes of Borderlands or Destiny and found you were drawn to a particular item of choice, don’t expect to experience that here as well. Sure, each gun has its own pro’s and con’s, but what it boils down to in Anthem is the additional damage which you can filter for rarity. Nothing else really matters.
Thanks for that one, Bioware.
Graphics and Technical Jargon
We’re not going to go into massive amounts of detail, as you’ve no doubt seen the comparisons are already, but are you may already know the full release doesn’t look anywhere near as good as the E3 reveal.
Even taking the downgrade into account, one thing we found when playing Anthem is that you really need to have a serious PC build to get high frame rates. On PC one member of the FinalBoss team was running an i7 2600K, RTX 2070, so sure it’s not the most recent of CPUs, but even then we’d expect more than the 30-50 frames we were getting on a pretty high-end GPU. Another of the FinalBoss team was rocking an i9-7980XE with an RTX 2080TI, which is fancy talk for a damn good system. Even so, he was only maxing at 80 FPS, both at 1440p so you know the game is poorly optimised. Its environment is rich and vast, but just doesn’t run well enough to work as an immersive gaming experience.
Add to this, all bugs, crashes and issues with loading times and Anthem is difficult to enjoy. And that’s not even going into the poor showing some of the console versions. There have been repeated issues of crashing across PS4s. Although investigations have shown the crashes aren’t as damaging to hardware as previously feared, it’s still not good news for Anthem players.
Anthem Multiplayer: What Happened?
Most of your time (other than going on expeditions) will be spent either in Fort Tarsis, the forge or the launch bay. You won’t find any other players to socialise with or interact other than the launch bay. And even then, no one says anything. We’re not sure why they made an online-only game to only then cut the user off from really interacting with anyone. The emote system is lame and lacking. This seems like a huge miss for Bioware.
You do get the chance to play with people while out on missions, but there is no real connectivity there either. You just join a faceless party, run the level and leave.
Anthem Customisation Options
The customisation available in the game is fantastic and varied, but superficial. Ultimately, the feature is just there for eye candy and to hopefully make you pull out your hard earned dingo dollars for some fancy polished metal skins. You can still earn currency and buy skins and cosmetics in the game the hard way, which is surprising for EA, but that does require some pretty epic grinding.
Another quick tip: When it comes to customisation, remember to take off your helmet if you want to see cutscenes with the character you created in the beginning.
Replay-ability & End Game Content
We’ve only been playing the game for a few weeks, so our time has been fairly limited. But, even so, after only a few accumulative hours, we aren’t feeling the temptation to go back after we set the controller down. When you’ve got limited hours to play, and need to fit in other things around your gaming experiences, you really want something that grabs you and pulls you back in, and Anthem just does not check this box.
If you are limited on time as well, it’s pretty difficult to keep with the same pace as your friends that are able to play more than you. The lack of content depth and the struggle to stay on top of the grind means we think most people will fall off this one quite quickly.
Despite being in development for years, Anthem as a game just feels rushed and isn’t something that should have been released when it was — especially on PC given the shocking performance.
As for the end game, it may interest some, but from for us at FinalBoss it just seems to share the same beginning 30 hours of gameplay. Repetition, awful AI and lacklustre storytelling.
This review was brought to you through a tireless and collective effort from FinalBoss team members, Ryan, Nathan and James. Looking for more gaming articles? Maybe movie or TV features instead? FinalBoss has you covered!