Anthem updates with a new Stronghold and mid-mission gear changes
What do we even pay those engineers for now?
Troubled looter-shooter Anthem has rolled out its first major post-release update today. Despite adding a new post-story Stronghold mission to complete, the centrepiece of this update is undoubtedly a quality-of-life fix: Players no longer have to return to base to change equipment. Improvements like this seem to be order of the day for patch 1.1.0, as BioWare plug up the worst of the wounds after the game's critically skewered launch. You can see the full patch notes here, or a summary below, along with our original video review to compare and contrast against.
The new stronghold - The Sunken Cell - does look like a rather nice environment to go beat up some Dominion troops in, culminating in a very impressive final arena. It's a pity that the boss in the centre of the swirling ocean vortex is little more than an especially large (and one-armed) Dominion Brute. It's a little more shooting to do, but it's effectively just one more dungeon bolted onto the end of the story. The main focus of this update is just making the process of going out, shooting, looting and returning less painful, and they've made some major improvements on that front.
Players can now pick new contracts from the Expedition screen, instead of having to hoof it around Fort Tarsis, poking each contract board for new things to do. That saves a little time. A bigger time-save is the ability to launch missions from the end-of-expedition screen, instead of requiring a return to base. Players should now be able to bounce between missions in the field, saving on a lot of tedious back-and-forth, and a lot less time on loading screens. All this, combined with the option to change your loadout in the field should make the game flow much better. Too much of Anthem was just sitting around doing nothing.
This goes a long way to address some of the most frequent complaints about the game, although other aspects like underwhelming variety of loot and repetitive encounter design are hopefully on the cards too. There's a slew of balance tweaks made, including some massive buffs to Masterwork weaponry and gear. I don't think there's any nerfs, suggesting they're trying to make combat more satisfying all round. It's also now possible to shoot through teammates. Your Colossus ultimate will no longer splash against a passing friend, ruining your moment.
You can see the full patch notes here, also containing many minor (and some less-minor) bug-fixes. I've still got my fingers crossed that Anthem can turn it around. I tired of it after around ten hours, but loved the feel of its big stompy robo-suits. Here's hoping they can bring everything else up to that level, given time.