A new report came out Monday that indicates Anthem may be in peril. According to Bloomberg’s report, EA is internally investigating what it will do with the game: They will either expand the Anthem Next team or throw in the towel and let Anthem exist as a cautionary tale for gave developers. They will review the latest version later this week, and the progress will determine what happens to BioWare’s live-service action RPG.
There has been much uncertainty about the next iteration of the game. BioWare Austin executive producer Christian Dailey left the Anthem Next team in December, joining the crew working on Dragon Age 4. He was formerly in charge of Anthem’s live updates, but he began to redesign the game after his role changed. Dailey isn’t the only one who shouldered this responsibility, once upon a time. BioWare’s Casey Hudson was part of the team, but he retired in December 2020.
The changes sounded promising
In 2020, Christian Dailey updated Anthem fans with a few posts. His July 31 post detailed a list of changes that would set the game on the right track. I was most excited about the improvements to gunplay. BioWare wanted a more responsive system, causing enemies to react to hits near instantly. They were also working on more weapons based on their factions. Sadly this and the updates detailed below may not see the light of day:
- Respect Your Time
- Increase the frequency of Loot Drops
- Loot is viable more often; All items are better and more competitive, but there’s still a chance of getting something exceptional
- All loot rarities have strategic value throughout progression
- Embrace Choice
- You can pursue specific loot without relying on randomness alone; Quests; Specialized Vendors; Unique Loot Tables
- Modify your loot, including rerolling inscriptions and leveling up items
- Create a Rewarding Loot Experience
- Loot feels exciting and more noticeable when it drops, and is celebrated when collected
- Rare enemies (aka “walking treasure chests”) create exciting moments to get a burst of loot all at once
- Keep it Accessible and Immediate
- Reveal and equip loot right away
- Complete revamp of the equipment sheet – including a detailed stat sheet (not shown)
- The equipment sheet can be accessed from anywhere, allows you to easily see what you have equipped in each slot
- Reliability of Equipment and Rewards
- Each item has an inscription “budget”, based on its Power and Rarity
- No more useless items because they were missing must-have inscriptions (see “Increased weapon dmg by +225%”)
- Exceptional items are about getting the exact types of bonuses you want, instead of maxing values on every bonus
- Scale for the Future
- Your power cap can be easily increased, and the loot system scales accordingly
- Advanced telemetry data allows us to identify trends and make meaningful balance changes
It may be too late for Anthem Next
Two years ago, an Anthem reboot would have worked out well. Now, we’re onto new consoles, and Anthem Next would still be an ‘old’ title. The team has invested a lot into Anthem because it was supposed to be their next big property, but most of that team shifted to other projects. The report states they will need 90 developers to keep the ball rolling on the revitalization.
There are hundreds of people who work on these AAA titles, especially live-service games. It sounds like BioWare’s devoted Anthem team is lacking. That’s not good. While Anthem isn’t the first game to flop upon release and tout a redesign, it doesn’t have as large a team as Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn. Final Fantasy 14 infamously released to negative reviews and then was reimagined a few years later. It felt like an entirely different game and is going strong to this day.
If Anthem makes a comeback like Final Fantasy 14, I’d be happy to play it. I played the 10 hour demo that EA Access provided and enjoyed the first few hours. However, a lot of time has passed, and this Iron Man simulator only falls under my radar when someone else talks about it. Even so, the intriguing gameplay was enough to keep me excited for the latest version of Anthem. After all, I did spend the $10 on the game once the price came down. We will have to wait and see what the outcome of EA’s investigation is.
If they do shut it down, let’s collectively demand an Iron Man game!