EA and BioWare’s Anthem has had a difficult launch. Its reviews haven’t been kind, gamers have given it a lot of flack for having long loading screens and terrible missions, and a sponsored YouTuber said he had been blacklisted for uploading an “honest” review. The Vice President of Xbox also accused gamers and outlets of being whiny, and the title’s physical launch sales have been dire and far worse than Mass Effect: Andromeda’s. Even the biggest and most delusional BioWare fan can’t deny that there’s a ton of issues with Anthem, but its biggest problem is no doubt being boring.
Anthem is a bad game as there’s a ton of glitches and technical issues, and it’s an online title that punishes gamers for actually choosing to play with comrades. What makes all of this worse is that it’s so boring. Now I’ve only played five to six hours as I’ve had better things to do with my life than constantly shout in anger “it’s just more of the f**king same”, but there’s a ton of factors that have kept me from wanting to come back to Anthem. The story is utter gibberish, the combat is pretty much ripped straight from Andromeda, and the loot is terrible. In addition, it’s always the same enemies, the world isn’t interesting, the characters are Mass Effect face templates, there’s a dozen loading screens, and every mission is an online horde mode.
It’s always the same enemies
Maybe things change the further you progress, but for the amount of time I’ve been playing the only enemies I’ve confronted are scars, scars, dogs, scars, scars, a boss with a shield, scars, scars, the same boss with a shield but doubled, and dogs. Oh, and there’s also been the odd pterodactyl. That’s it! That’s the enemy variety I’ve encountered so far, and I’ve probably killed at least 500 as the game’s God obviously has diarrhoea and never stops s****ng them out.
Every time I see the exact same blockhead with a shield pop out of thin air, I just want to eject the disc, put it back in its case, and sell the game at a car boot for it to become someone’s haunted object in a trashy B-horror flick. BioWare doesn't even mix things up by changing the colour of the dude’s armour, or by giving him a weapon other than a flamethrower.
The world isn’t interesting
The only common piece of praise you’ll hear for Anthem from outlets, fans, and even the biggest naysayers is that the graphics are gorgeous. There’s no denying the lush scenery makes for a pretty background on your laptop, but Anthem’s world simply isn’t interesting to be in as beautiful graphics are no longer rare or mightily impressive. As good as Anthem’s world initially looks, there’s an array of other open-world games you can enjoy with similarly detailed graphics coupled with an above average story and mission variety (Horizon: Zero Dawn to name just one).
The characters are Mass Effect face templates
Remember the drama about Mass Effect: Andromeda and how BioWare supposedly made Sara Ryder ugly? Well, Anthem takes terrible character design to another level as everyone in Anthem is uninteresting and eerily similar to the face templates from the Mass Effect games. Aside from Javelin mechanic Zoe and a woman with Daenerys’ blonde locks, all the females in Anthem are either bald or have short hair, whereas the men are rushed templates from an RPG used for when you don’t want to spend hours creating a character who is actually captivating and attractive. Hell, your cypher Owen is the bland and generic bald canvas every character creation suite provides for players to incorporate style and personality.
Now, it would be petty to complain about Anthem’s Fort Tarsis not being populated with men and women designed for x-rated fan art, but it’s not petty to complain about the indistinguishable main and side characters all being generic. Perhaps if they weren’t awkward animatronics desperately trying to prove they’re human by telling “funny” life stories they might be somewhat interesting to look at, but unfortunately they’re just average-looking people you wouldn’t give a second glance. It’s lazy and forgettable character design that makes it so much harder to be invested in the world, the people, and your supposed mates.
There’s a dozen loading screens
Even those who haven’t played or followed Anthem are aware that it’s stuffed with loading screens. Fortunately I’ve been playing on the PlayStation 4 and therefore haven’t come across loading screens lasting longer than a minute, but it’s the frequency of them rather than the length that’s the issue. Whenever I actually want do something like leave Fort Tarsis, enter the Forge, or carry on a mission I dread the loading screens. There’s one or two nearly every ten-minutes, and this makes it impossible to get into a groove as you’re constantly on a stop-and-start rollercoaster. The amount of times you have to look at the same screens and read the same tips isn’t acceptable, and I’m not going to bore people any more by echoing what every outlet and gamer has already lambasted.
Missions are online horde modes
Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve only played five to six hours of Anthem over two days. This isn’t because I’ve been extremely busy with work, life, and pleasing a girlfriend who always wants to go out, but rather because it has been impossible to continue wanting to play more of the game’s “story”. The generic face templates sprouting exposition doesn’t help, nor does Owen constantly yapping in my ear in a tone that is remarkably even more insincere and bored than Tyrion Lannister in Destiny, but my lack of motivation for playing Anthem mostly stems from every mission being an online horde mode.
Every mission in Anthem is press a button, fight waves of enemies, fly to the next point, interact with something, fight more enemies, find someone, kill all the remaining enemies, and wait ten-seconds for the mission to end. It’s pretty much Mass Effect Online, but surviving three waves instead of a ridiculous ten. There’s no doubt the combat is smooth and polished, but when you’re shooting the same enemies and repeating the same actions over and over again it quickly becomes a monotonous chore worse than emptying the dishwasher.
There’s no cut-scenes to break up the frequent combat, nor is there any puzzles besides having to find five or six shards just because. On your own it’s a boring grind that feels overwhelming with the amount of enemies shooting at you, and online it’s an infuriating cycle that will turn even the biggest saint into a “toxic gamer”. When every mission is a horde mode routinely found in online features for single-player and story-driven games, then it’s no wonder I prefer to spend my time playing Metro Exodus.
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