Anthem Xbox One X Review

Anthem is a beautiful game that opens strong and eventually begins to steadily fall until it hits the earth.

By Grayshadow, Posted 26 Feb 2019

The starting moments of Anthem are truly amazing, with breathtaking environments, a promising story, and the ability to take to the sky at will. This excitement eventually fades as you continue forward on your journey to kill hordes of the same enemies to obtain lackluster loot and explore the same areas. Anthem looks and plays like it should be better than it is but suffers rigorously from repetitive gameplay, bland loot, and tiresome characters.

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Anthem has you in control of a freelancer, a Javelin pilot capable of doing what others cannot. After a failed mission you and your former allies have a falling out, forcing you to restart with a new team. Eventually, you find out that someone named the Monitor wants to obtain the legendary giver of all life, the Anthem, and you must stop him.

The Monitor, at first, seems like an appealing villain. Calm, calculating, but overall ruthless in his goals. The problem, like much of Anthem, comes from the pacing. The villain is almost never seen other than a handful of times. Instead, the game has you jumping between characters, lore, and mindless missions.

You assume that everyone would be interested in stopping the Monitor from obtaining the Anthem considering his resources and reputation, as shown in the game's flashback that happens within the first 3 hours, but no. Many of the other characters have you collecting random items and pursuing their own goals that rarely impact the overall narrative. In addition, some of the dialogue has been misplaced such as at the beginning a character who eventually meets up with you somehow is able to speak to you and in the first raid mission a character you've never met, and meet in the end-game raid mission, somehow knows who you are.

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Much of Anthem is padded with random characters and personal stories. Everyone seems inclined to ask and talk to you about their personal life. In past BioWare titles, every character had a purpose whether it was determining the player's personality or adding to the overall narrative. Instead, much of the dialogue has you making obtuse choices that have no real impact other than changes in the writing to create an illusion of choice. It doesn't matter if you're a jerk or attempt to help someone.

The gameplay fares better, as Anthem literally takes off. The controls have been modified to complement Mass Effect Andromeda's system with the player able to jump and dash easily. Added is the excellent flight system that allows you to take off at any time, expanding the verticality. There's no cover system, which can be annoying but shooting is adequate and functions well.

The player has access to 4 Javelins, specialized suits that unlock as you play. Each one has its own distinct abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Each one more than less plays the same but using their various abilities is always a thrill until you start to get into the game's progression system.

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The core of Anthem's progression is obtaining new loot, which isn't exciting at all. This is due to the game's lack of cosmetic differences, with little distinct varieties to the Masterwork and Common weapons. With games such as Borderlands, which released 10 years ago, having a wider array of cosmetic weapons the ones offered in Anthem are just irritating. In addition, players cannot switch weapons on the fly and must go through a specific menu to prepare for upcoming battles and forcing the player to endure 1 of many loading screens.

This extends to the Javeline cosmetics which are severely lacking compared to the ones showed in the demo presentations. Players are often limited to 1-2 emotes, material options, and more. With large chunks of cosmetic items locked behind obtuse grind goals and temporary sales.

Exploration, like much of Anthem, is amazing at the beginning. Jumping into the air and flying across the lush and amazingly detailed world is exciting. The world is one of BioWare's best, with an excellent array of aquatic life, land animals, birds, and flora. The entire traversal system takes advantage of everything as you fly through the skies, dive into the water, and collect resources while taking part in dynamic situations. But like a lot of Anthem this experience eventually gets sour.

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Much of the campaign is centered in this open world, as the player travels through the same locations over and over again. At first, it's amazing to see the various parts of the environment. With underground tunnels and deep lakes, but after the 10th time of flying the wonder is lost. Worse of all is the endless repetition of the same enemies and objectives.

Much of Anthem has you fighting hordes of the same enemies, most of them bug creatures called the Scar, and performing the same task. Almost all the time you'll be playing Hot-and-Cold, flying to the next objective, and killing waves of enemies while standing in the objective. The local wildlife is much more exciting but eventually, they become boring as well. This incredible fight against a brute known as the Titan, which looks like the Berserker from Gears of War, is an amazing fight that requires teamwork to take down. Then you fight this creature a dozen times, with the only variation to these enemies being more health and extra damage. Anthem features a lengthy grind against the same enemies with rewards that all look the same. You can bring up to 3 friends to any of the missions and join other players easily with the quickplay option, but there's no filter to choose specific missions you want; only the difficulty.

All these minors issues Anthem has started to mount up as well. For example, the delay trigger when selecting matchmaking and the 5 seconds you have to wait before the next checkpoint appears is infuriating. Enemies spawning out of nowhere, disappearing icons, and other minor technical issues slowly build up until it's hard to ignore them.

This is a shame considering that Anthem is a beautiful game. Character models, the Javelins, and the environment are teeming with detail. The animations are amazing and small touches such as planet life waving back and forth inside small pools of water showcase dedication to this project. The musical score shares the graphical's qualities, with a mixture of great beats that keep you engaged in combat. But the lack of substance makes all these amazing features go to waste.

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Anthem is a beautiful game that opens strong and eventually begins to steadily fall until it hits the earth. There's so much wasted potential here with a beautifully crafted world, amazing creatures, and a flight system that provides freedom of movement. But due to the lack of varieties in weapons cosmetics and objectives, the desire to continue playing is crushed very quickly. The narrative just adds to the disappointment as BioWare's acclaimed reputation was based on story-telling and strong characters, neither of which is in Anthem.

Adam Siddiqui, NoobFeed
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General Information

Anthem

50/100

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher(s): Electronic Arts
Developer(s): BioWare
Genres: Sci-fi
Themes: Post-Apocalypse
Release Date: 2019-02-15

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