Anthem is out now, kinda-sorta – assuming you’ve got an Origin Access subscription. While the game fully debuts on February 22nd, subscribers can play now. Those with the cheap Basic subscription get a ten-hour trial, while Premier subscribers have been set loose on the full game. I’m also happy to say that some issues in the first hour or two aside, the servers appear to be holding up well for people playing the power-armoured loot n’ shooter. BioWare have also partly unveiled their first major update for the game, including a big space-storm to wrangle.
While there’s much to be said on the value of subscription services and the slow move away from ownership of PC games, I’ll just say that getting a month of Origin Premier suits me in this case. With games like Anthem, I tend to binge for a few weekends and late nights, then shelve the game for a few months. Getting to do that relatively cheap, and also getting to play Darksiders 3 and Battlefield 5 in the same period just seemed like a good way to spend £15, especially considering Anthem’s regular price is £55. Your mileage will, of course, vary.
Anyway, on the subject of the game itself, the servers wobbled a bit and kicked a few people off when it first launched around 3pm GMT today. It seems to have stabilised since, and I’ve been able to log in, complete the tutorial missions and my first co-op sortie without issue. So far I’ve had a decent time stomping around in a big mech-suit and blowing up swarms of baddies with mortars and railguns, and it’s high on my weekend to-play list. With any luck, it’ll be plain sailing for everyone from here on, although if the servers are going to buckle, it’ll be on the 22nd proper.
I’ve no idea how long it’ll take me to chew through Anthem’s main story, but Bioware have announced plans for at least three ‘acts’ of post-release stuff. The first will be called Echoes Of Reality, due in March, and you can see the road-map page here. The first update sounds like it’ll be bulking out free-play and the endgame a little, with more events happening out in the wild. There’ll also be a new Cataclysm (think Dragon Age Inquisition’s demon-spewing rifts, but spacey) to muck around with, promising “mighty foes” and “unimaginable rewards”. High level loot, then.
The March act will also include the ‘Stronger Together’ update, which sounds like improvements to the social features of the game, which do seem a little bare-bones at present. There have been a few other minor problems, with Bioware’s Michael Gamble admitting on Twitter that some early players have been awarded too much (or too little) Coin, a currency mostly used for buying cosmetic gubbins for your suits. It’s being fixed. So far the biggest reported launch issue seems to be audio cutting out entirely during larger firefights, which they’re aware of and working on.
Compared to its first demo weekend, this seems to have been a relatively smooth launch for an online game. Here’s hoping it stays that way. Anthem is live now for Origin Access subscribers, with the regular store-bought version unlocking next Friday, February 22nd. You can find it here on Origin for £55/€60/$60.