Sing it! BioWare show Anthem’s E3 demo to us all

BioWare took a hunk of Anthem to E3 in June in a gameplay demo, then only showed it behind closed doors to press. But now summer is here, they’ve flung open the doors to get a breeze going and oh ho! The fools! Now we can walk right in and see that demo for ourselves! No longer must we read our Brendan’s impressions of the demo, we can just watch the 19-minute choreographed and narrated demo as Iron Spacemen stomp and fly around an alien jungle, listen to robots say sci-fi words, shoot alien arthropods, and, I quote, “focus on the weak points to cause massive bonus damage.”

Here’s lead producer Ben Irving to talk us through the E3 demo, where four players take on a mission which is named ‘Scars & Villainy’ but seems to be more about fighting a giant enemy crab:

What do you make of that? Here’s what Brendan made of it:

“Yes, the bullet-sponginess and number-hosing of Destiny is strong with this one, or seems to be. Much of the ‘hands-off demo’ I saw only confirmed that Anthem is closely following the template set by Bungie’s shared-world shooter. Drop into a fantastical universe and get suited, booted and shooted with friends, all while a story happens in the periphery. During EA’s press conference, the developers enthused that story was more important to Anthem than simply offering background to a series of dungeons. But the dialogue of the cutscenes and chatter during the mission itself suggests that it again follows Destiny, right down to the impenetrable lore nonsense and silly nomenclature. It’s still not clear what an ‘Anthem’ is.”

Anthem is due to launch on February 22nd, 2019. It’s coming via Origin, priced at £55.

84 Comments

  1. Spuzzell says:

    Gosh! I haven’t seen any sort of sci-fi MMO “go to the place and shoot the lads” game for, oooh, minutes.

    Thank heavens Bioware are owned by EA and stopped making interesting games, or I’d have to think about playing them.

    WHO HAS THAT SORT OF TIME

    • bjj8383 says:

      I for one am very excited for the game. IMO anyone who has a complaint along the lines of “oh great another *blank*” is probably an individual with a brief attention span who is incapable of enjoying anything that’s not constantly overstimulating their senses.

      • sosolidshoe says:

        A hilarious characterisation, considering the people expressing the point of view you’re denigrating are lamenting that Bioware no longer make sprawling, complex, character-driven RPGs that took dozens or hundreds of hours to experience fully, while the game your defending is by all accounts a low-effort clone of a vacuous looter-shooter constructed entirely around mechanics designed to tickle the brain’s reward centre with scientifically determined amounts of gratification on a continual basis to keep people playing(and spending) endlessly.

        • heynow says:

          Just want to say that, while I agree with the rest of your comment, calling Anthem “low effort” just seems flat-out wrong. I mean, just look at the game, it’s gorgeous. Maybe the gameplay isn’t your thing (it’s not my thing), but there are a lot of people putting a lot of effort into this game.

          • Phantom_Renegade says:

            No he’s right, it is low effort. Not in actually making the game, even the trashiest games takes tremendous effort to put on the market. But low effort as in concept. Low effort as in trying to create something unique/interesting. Low effort as in finding a bandwagon and jumping on it hard without even trying to understand why it worked in the first place.

          • televizor says:

            No, he’s wrong (just here for the fight)

        • Carra says:

          Biowares made some my all time favorite games. Neverwinter nights, Kotor, Jade empire, Dragon age… Great RPGs where I spent hundreds of hours.

          I’m sad that it looks like we won’t be seeing those kind of games again.

      • Spuzzell says:

        sosolidshoe beat you up enough, I really don’t need to add anything else.

        If all you want to play is the exact same game but “now with jetpacks!!1!” then fine, that’s your life to live. I personally don’t understand why you’re here and not on a console site if that’s all you want to play, but whatever.

        Just don’t lay claim to some sort of moral high ground over anyone who looks at the exact same game we’ve seen already several times with a palate swap and “now with jetpacks!11!!” and sighs with weariness.

      • mitrovarr says:

        Why would anyone have interest in it? If you want this sort of thing, you already have Destiny, and Destiny II. And Warframe. And all the different version of Borderlands.

        Nobody has time to play more than one, and the more people who play it the better, so there’s no point in adding more of them to the market unless they have something new and innovative to offer. And it really, really doesn’t sound like Anthem has anything new.

        It’s the same reason so many MMOs died in the wake of WoW. They didn’t offer anything new and really compelling, so everyone just kept playing the one they were already invested in, or the one with the most people in it.

      • KastaRules says:

        ROTFL

      • Madjack66 says:

        Might be time to turn bjj8383 over – looks like he’s cooked on this side.

  2. ResonanceCascade says:

    Did Bioware say this is going to be their make-or-break game, or did I imagine that?

    If it is, they might as throw in the towel now, because I have yet to speak to someone who is actually excited for this game. The whole thing seems like a really, really bad idea.

    • woodsey says:

      I think that was in one of Jason Scheicher investigative pieces on Kotaku. Indeed, I’m pretty sure Bioware explicitly denied that it was make-or-break. Of course, they’d say that whatever.

    • Nauallis says:

      Yeah…. I have a bunch of friends that are hyped for this game. Whenever I ask why, and what their impressions are actually based on, nobody can tell me. Hype is a bizarre beast.

      • bjj8383 says:

        And whenever I ask naysayers why they AREN’T excited, I always get vague subjective non-answers.

        • aepervius says:

          There is a difference between an answer you do not accept , and getting no answer at all. I know one person which gets hyped for this game , and she could not tell me why in term related to the game. I can tell you why I am not excited : this does not seem to be story rich and this does seem to be far too generic, feeling a rehash of stuff like destiny. I could be wrong but that is enough for me to not get hyped at all. And that’s not a non answer.

        • Ergates_Antius says:

          Thats…. not how excitement works. That’s not how anything works! Being excited for something isn’t the default position, unless you’re… well, insane. Or 5.
          Indifference to something is the [normal] default position – something has to earn excitement, and for a lot of people (the “Naysayers”) this game hasn’t.

        • Nauallis says:

          It may surprise you to learn that all opinions are subjective.

          For me, it looks like a bizarre mix of Destiny, Borderlands, and Titanfall, but without the parts of each of those that are awesome:

          No asymmetric scaled pilot/titan warfare, but it does have missions with dull talking in the background, that player chatter is likely to just gloss right over. Does the player character even have anything remarkable about them without the fancy suit? Are we just a bunch of shmucks with powered armor? What’s compelling about that?

          No dark comedy tongue-in-cheek perks and absurd weapon rolls, but it does have shootybangs where you watch numbers spawn.

          There’s no way to tell if the gunplay will be fun or not, if the weapons will “feel good” – it’s too early. No reason to trust that this will be more fun than Destiny, an extant game series with a regular playerbase and established compelling lore. Destiny 1 being first at what it did was interesting, but then, Bungie has been making shooters since the beginning. Bioware hasn’t, and their last game was really really bad.

        • DefinitelyNotHans says:

          If you’re so confident about this game being amazing then why are you working so hard to defend it from random internet strangers? Surely such a great game doesnt need your help to protect its reputation, does it? It’s almost like you’re trying to convince yourself more than everyone else.

        • mitrovarr says:

          I think everyone has been pretty clear why they’re not excited about it. It looks and sounds like a bad copy of Destiny, and plays exactly against the traditional strengths of the studio that is making it.

  3. pookie191 says:

    I want to see the cyberpunk demo more

  4. Dorga says:

    this looks very pretty and very boring.

    • tomimt says:

      I was thinking the same. The sponge boss at the end was just so, so dull looking encounter that I’d probably stop playing the game there.

    • Kingseeker Camargo says:

      And “very pretty” might be too generous of you. For a while now every AAA photo-realistic game looks exactly like this. I’ve stopped being impressed by this kind of graphics long ago, and very much prefer when developers try some actually creative art direction.

      • bjj8383 says:

        People who use phrases like “I’ve stopped being impressed by *impressive thing*” need to take a good looooong look at how overly critical they are of life.

        • Nouser says:

          When was the last time you got amazed by that small device that can connect with the other side of the world (in real time!), it’s more powerful than a supercomputer from two decades ago, has a full color display (more than your eye can see!), serves as a photographic camera (and records video too) and yet fits in your pocket?

  5. Ludux says:

    Yet Another Grey and Brown Sci-Fi Shooter

    But what about the exciting microtransactions??!?!!?!???!?!?

  6. fuggles says:

    What, no obligatory link to the actual giant enemy crab?

    • Nouser says:

      A giant arthropod with obvious weak points you must attack for massive damage. Such an awesome final boss.

      Between that, the commenter actually skipping the boring yet mandatory looong corridor full of grinding, the glowing magic drops from the enemies, absolutely every non-mob enemy being “elite this” or “legendary that”, visible damage points (plus health bars!)… I’m starting to believe this is the more gameish game ever.

      • hfm says:

        Can I skip forward like that in the real game? If so maybe they are on to something. Of course that would probably cost me $4.99 to “skip forward in dungeon”.

  7. Det. Bullock says:

    My god, this looks so dull.

    • bjj8383 says:

      Disagree?

      • Jokerme says:

        Did Bioware hire you to defend their game against all negative comments?

        • Premium User Badge

          Ninja Dodo says:

          Few things more tiresome than gamers assuming anyone who doesn’t agree with their opinion (which is clearly the ONLY possible correct opinion!) must be paid or have some other ulterior motive. Surprise! People have differing opinions.

          This game isn’t my thing but I’m not going around questioning the sincerity of people who DO like it.

  8. NetharSpinos says:

    Props to Brendan for sitting through such a soulless presentation, I couldn’t even make it halfway. Looks pretty, but it seems hardly worth mentioning if that’s the only thing going for it. Those damage numbers were especially obnoxious. Yeah, the mech suits are a cool idea but…it’s just Destiny all over again. Why play this when I’ve already played that?

    • bjj8383 says:

      Because it’s not destiny all over again. You’re just proving either A) you really know nothing about this game or B) you’re incapable of grasping detailed nuance.

      • NetharSpinos says:

        I suspect the most anyone knows about this game is what’s been fed to them by EA, i.e. this video. And this video has shown a remarkable and not particularly complimentary similarity to…Destiny. Are you sure the “detailed nuance” is really enough to make it superior, or even incomparable?

        (As a side you, you should probably chill the fuck out. Trying to give counterposts to multiple people on the same thread comes off as a bit desperate to refute any criticism.)

      • Ergates_Antius says:

        “detailed nuance”
        Detailed. Nuance. Seriously? Did you just watch the same video as everyone else? This is not an arena where detailed nuance is to be found.

    • hfm says:

      The best part of the video was “In the interest of time…”

      In fact.. maybe they can just make the day-1 DLC be named “In the interest of time…” and let you skip major boring stuff.. And then I can get an “In the interest of time…” achievement for doing so..

  9. Jokerme says:

    Wow, there goes my little interest left for the game…

  10. Robert The Rebuilder says:

    Great advice in the alt-text!

  11. Zombiwan Kenobi says:

    Yet another MMO-like uninspired game. Beautiful but boring games, what a waste.

    • bjj8383 says:

      Again, anyone bored by this is saying that they are bored by gorgeous, detailed, huge, fun games. (Gorgeous because even critics mention this, detailed because there are visibly a lot of mechanics and options in the game, huge because of visible map sizes and developer comments, and fun because every hands-on review talks about it.) So if you dislike those things… I can’t even begin to get into that head-space.

      • SooSiaal says:

        I dont know who you are trying to convince that this will be a great game, us or yourself…

      • brucethemoose says:

        I think people saying it isn’t pretty are silly.

        But this DOES look grindy like an MMO. The combat is certainly a notch above a WoW-like, but alot of the enemies have too much health… It’s like they took the punchy, risky combat from ME3/Andromeda, quadrupled everyone’s health pools and dumb downed the powers a little.

        So, being pretty helps, but gating all that behind grindy gameplay renders it moot. Other games get away with it, sure, but I don’t see the super-detailed worldbuilding (like a BGS RPG) or really good writing/characters (like Bioware’s previous RPGs) that lets them do that here in Anthem.

        • markerikson says:

          I don’t think it looks pretty. At best, it looks quite bland. At worst, I think it’s actually kinda ugly.

          That’s not to say that the graphics aren’t state of the art, but they’re being used in service of an uninspired aesthetic.

      • DefinitelyNotHans says:

        Because there definitely have never been any massive open world games with pretty graphics that ended up being too empty and boring. And we all know that neither EA or Bioware have ever had any huge missteps.

        Have fun in 10 years when the servers are dead and you have a super fun game full of empty plains though.

  12. DarkFenix says:

    So, I recently got Destiny 2 (thank you Humble Monthly), and Anthem just looks like Destiny 2, except it’s more visually cluttered (both in terms of that horribly cluttery environment, and in terms of the huge mess of vision-obscuring particle and lighting effects), slower, less ‘fun’ (Destiny 2 never seems hesitant to have some light fun in the voicework), and generally less interesting or exciting.

    How the hell do you manage to make big stompy robot suits seem boring?

    • mitrovarr says:

      I watched the video and, it really does look like Destiny 2 but worse. It looked like slower paced, less interesting gameplay. It follows all of the same design guidelines (public events, strikes, elite and legendary enemies, etc.) The only interesting idea that I saw was the idea of combo moves that involve more than one class. Aside from that, it was pretty much copy-paste, but slower and less interesting.

  13. AmazingPotato says:

    Nice Mclusky reference!

    My love is bigger than your love, sing it!

  14. josborn says:

    If this is what they have to show for the mess they made of Andromeda, color me unconvinced. My friend keeps trying to sell me on it like “But think how good it will be since all the staff they stripped off Mass Effect were put on Anthem instead!” And maybe he has a point, but I hate to reward them for releasing a half-finished game and then totally abandoning it to work on something else.

    • DatonKallandor says:

      If this is being worked on by the people they stripped off Andromenda they’ve got a problem, because the one area Andromeda excelled is coop multiplayer shootmans, and that’s exactly what Anthem is. In other words, they pulled everyone BUT the people that would actually know how to make the game they want to make.

    • Zenicetus says:

      I wonder if they took the wrong lessons from Andromeda, when many of the reviews and user impressions said the combat wasn’t bad, and everything else like the dialog and story sucked.

      So hey… let’s just take the Andromeda combat and make a game of that, with more jetpack jumping. No, let’s do flying instead!

  15. Darth Gangrel says:

    Is it just me or does she look cross eyed? It kind of makes her apparently very serious, cool demeanor turn into a version of the uncanny valley, except that it’s “awkward/silly valley” instead.

  16. iainl says:

    I like Destiny, and I like Iron Man. So I’m still interested. But that really is all it seems to be.

  17. suibhne says:

    “Massive bonus damage” being, after all, a plausibly authentic military term.

  18. Spherical says:

    Welp, this game seems universally hated here at RPS but at least I thought it looked kind of fun.

    I’d love to see more before passing judgment however. I’m especially interested in details regarding exploration, story and solo content (or lack thereof).

  19. rockman29 says:

    The spirit of Mr. Kaz Hirai lives on…

  20. Thankmar says:

    You are all right of course, but I do like the verticality.

  21. Sardonic says:

    No E3 meme could ever live up to that of the giant enemy crab.

  22. DatonKallandor says:

    “But the dialogue of the cutscenes and chatter during the mission itself suggests that it again follows Destiny, right down to the impenetrable lore nonsense and silly nomenclature.”

    It’s really amazing how badly Bungie has fucked up the entire Destiny lore situation. Because if you just play the games, that’s exactly what you get. A nonsense string of Nouns with no context or explanation, seemingly with no thought behind it.

    Then you’ve got their grimoire stuff, where some of the best sci-fi in years is hidden on awful out-of-game sites. (Seriously, read the Books of Sorrow they’re amazing)

    I’m expecting Bioware to copy the in-game nonsense aspect of Destiny 1:1, but without any of the (sadly not in-game) thought put into it.

  23. ravenshrike says:

    I realize there’s zero chance of it, but having CDPR pop up February 1st and drop that they’re releasing CP2077 on Feb. 20th would be hilarious. Cruel, but hilarious.

    • hfm says:

      No one even wants to be anywhere on the continent let alone in the blast radius of Cyberpunk 2077 releasing. I love they they are being super coy about the release date. It’s keeping nearly every other house guessing where to put their games.

  24. kud13 says:

    Hrm. I watched GameInformer’s last interview with the project lead ^n YouTube and I’m now somewhat interested?

    Enough to pick it up in an Origin sale for $15 CAD whenever it reaches that threshold. Paying anything greater for an always-online game feels ludicrous, since I’d only ever play it solo.

  25. Corwin71 says:

    55 pounds? Isn’t that about 70 American dollars? So, on top of this being a soulless, derivative “screw you” to its three decades of RPG fans, its base version will sell for more than $60?

    • Sakkura says:

      55 pounds is almost 73 dollars. But VAT is included in those 55 pounds. If you subtract the VAT and convert, it’s equivalent to 60 dollars and 60 cents.

  26. bjj8383 says:

    I’m really getting peeved at how sarcastic and snarky EVERY. SINGLE. RPS article is these days. You’re not being cheeky or clever, you’re just making it blatantly obvious what you were teenagers in the early 2000s.

    “Yes, the bullet-sponginess and number-hosing of Destiny is strong with this one”
    We have very different definitions of “bullet sponge.” To me, a bullet sponge is an enemy that more or less sits there and your only objective is to spray bullets at it. This enemy moved, attacked, and had weak spots, and has swarming minions that need attention; you clearly have to do a lot more than mindlessly spray rounds at it while doing nothing else.

    “confirmed that Anthem is closely following the template set by Bungie’s shared-world shooter.”
    Yeah, again, different definitions of “closely.” The likeness is really only skin deep, and anyone who can’t easily see past that isn’t very intelligent, let alone qualified to review games.

    “it again follows Destiny, right down to the impenetrable lore nonsense and silly nomenclature.”
    Seems very understandable to me, and not at all silly. You can’t complain about lack of story in one breath then turn around and berate the game for having detailed lore. Like, seriously.

    “It’s still not clear what an ‘Anthem’ is.”
    So I have clairvoyant superpowers? I must, because I think I have a very firm grasp of what Anthem is…

    • aepervius says:

      The generally accepted definition of bullet sponge is not whether the enemy move or fight back, but rather that to kill it you have to fire a long amount of bullet , often in places which looks vulnerable and should lead to immediate death. The random enemy “normal” NPC in the division qualify : some can get multiple sniper head shot , and still stay alive. The boss in the video could , depending on your feeling on the fight length, be seen as a bullet sponge. I don’t think it is, but I could see why people think so, compared to the TTK of other enemy.

      • Excors says:

        I thought the definition of a bullet sponge was that you could squeeze it and all the bullets would come out again, and after a while it would start to go black and smell funny.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      In the video (the advertising video that Bioware made themselves), they start shooting the thing at 15:50. They spray it with bullets, grenades, mortars, fireballs etc until 18:40 (2 minutes, 50 seconds) when the video fades to black. They’ve knocked just over 1/4 of it’s health off.

      Quick calculation: it takes 10 minutes of hosing something down with varied ordinance to kill it. That is the *very definition* of bullet sponge.

      • mitrovarr says:

        Yeah, I think you could do an entire Destiny 2 strike in the time it takes to kill that boss alone, and at no point in that video did that team look to be under any kind of meaningful threat whatsoever. That looks pretty tedious.

    • WombatDeath says:

      Judging from your comments on this article, you seem to be quite heavily emotionally invested in this game. I don’t understand why but that’s fine, each to their own. I honestly hope that you enjoy it very much. That said, by the same token, I hope that you can concede that what tickles your fancy might not tickle others’.

    • markerikson says:

      I think they can berate the game for lack of story while simultaneously having detailed lore. It comes down to the game’s narrative delivery method, and how elegant it is.

      If the game fails to give the player a narrative arc to follow, that’s something to be criticised.

      If, at the same time, the game throws a bunch of impenetrable jargon at the character that can only be understood if they decide to go to the fan-made wiki and dig into the lore, that’s also something to be criticised.

      A game can have the greatest lore ever, worthy of being held up beside Tolkien’s, but if it fails to convey that lore to the player in a way that invests them in it – or worse, it tries to convey it in a way that actively alienates the player – then it has a problem.

    • HankDerb says:

      And you’re making it painfully obvious you value pretty looks over intricate and unique gameplay, just accept that you want this game to be good despite how generic most of the gameplay we have seen looks and stop feeling the need to respond to almost every person posting reasonable doubts.

      Grow up and stop hurling insults just because people have a different perspective than you.

    • Hartford688 says:

      Now you have been very defensive and critical about other people’s comments elsewhere here. You are quick to attack the criticism (and the critics themselves). Now so far I can gather you consider it good because it is big, fun and has many (unspecified) mechanics.

      In the interests of being constructive, could you set out in more detail what you consider its strongpoints (and why these bring something new to the genre) and any areas that need worked on?

  27. racccoon says:

    Would of been better as a mmo and the price is way too much. shove it on a console those users love to pay over the top prices.
    Lot of great modelling though.

  28. Stiopa says:

    I must say I’m really lost by some comments. Sure, I do get that many games follow the same exact path of what’s popular right now, and that this will be super similar to Destiny 2. But I haven’t played any Destiny game, and when I look at this one it looks more fun to me. I like the graphics style better as well, including the ‘clutter’. So when it comes out and will turn out to be fun – I’m especially interested in how many viable choices and tweaks are there to form my own gamestyle – I might just look it up.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      You might not have played Destiny 1/2, but lots of people have. Specifically, lots of the people who might be interested in this type of game. The question is – does it do enough to differentiate itself?

    • Celcos says:

      So when it comes out and will turn out to be fun

      That’s just the thing, though. It looks great, like a world I’d want to play around in. It’s just that so far, there doesn’t seem to be a reason to do that. The game doesn’t look fun.

  29. Premium User Badge

    Ninja Dodo says:

    It looks very good and combat and movement seems solid… I really (to my surprise) loved Mass Effect 3 multiplayer so it seems like on paper I might enjoy this, but with the emphasis on numbers and grinding for loot (two things I could not care less about) I can’t get away from the feeling that this is Bioware’s Destiny and I just don’t really care about Destiny.

    Also the world seems kind of unsurprising: Activating ancient technological artifacts left behind by a mysterious civilization by pressing some buttons? Did that in Mass Effect (and countless other games). Shooting spider-like aliens in caves? Seems a lot like the Rachni (or any number of similar arachnid enemies in other games). I guess the Iron-man movement is somewhat novel – don’t think I’ve played a game that did that well – but clearly what they’re aiming for is a unique world that draws you in and I’ve yet to see anything I haven’t kinda seen before (albeit not with quite this much detail).

  30. fish99 says:

    It does look dull and generic, in a way which Destiny doesn’t. Destiny (by which I mean the original Destiny post TTK) just has a bit of magic sprinkled on top that this is missing, due to Destiny having superb music, art direction, voice work/humour, and that super satisfying gunplay.

    They need to show more NPCs/story to get me interested.

  31. montorsi says:

    All of the people who had actual hands on seemed to be happy about the gameplay and had an entirely different take from Brendan, so I’ll look forward to the whole ironman simulator thing they’ve got going. Whether it has any legs is up in the air.

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