We at TNW have been quiet on the subject of Anthem since its release a few weeks ago. We wanted to have some more time with the game before we gave any thoughts about it. But to be honest, the release and subsequent problems with the game have us wondering… what happened to Anthem? It’ll probably take some steep work from the developers to correct this ship — and that’s if the fans stick around.
Anthem seemed, pre-release, to be as notable for what it wasn’t as much as for what it was. The game is the latest effort from the vaunted Bioware, a development studio that is known for its single player RPGs rather than anything multiplayer. Not everything it touches is gold, but it’s got a specific template for the kind of game it does well — and Anthem doesn’t fit it. It’s why I remember people having so many opinions about the fact that the game wouldn’t have romance options, because it just seems so un-Bioware-ish.
But now that the game is out and people have the opportunity to judge it on its own merits — and they swiftly seemed to get tired of it. While it’s not quite raised Fallout 76 levels of rancor in its players, Anthem has caught significant flak for its failings in the weeks since it launched. First, it’s riddled with bugs — my favorite being one that made the starting gun the most powerful in the game. Second, the user interface is a joke.
Worst of all, the game appears to be causing PS4s to crash and subsequently refuse to work — Xbox One gamers have made similar reports. While Bioware says consoles actually getting bricked is a myth, it does acknowledge that the game is crashing PS4s, which is quite a bit beyond the pale as far as game problems go. There are many things gamers can shrug off or at least treat as a misdemeanor offense in their games, but actually bringing down the console or PC, however temporarily, is not one of them.
All’s not lost for the game, of course. Just look at the original Destiny, which didn’t really get good until the Taken King expansion came out. Before then, it was boring as all get out (not as bad as Anthem, but not as good as it could have been either), but no one remembers that now that Bungie has spruced it up and released an even more polished sequel. All Anthem needs to do is maintain a core fanbase until that happens, then a general boost in goodwill will bring back the curious. But maintaining that fanbase is going to be more of a challenge than it sounds.
Given the development studio behind it, I think it’s possible for the game to correct itself and produce strong future content. But it’ll take a lot of work to beat back the level of poor feedback it received at launch. It’s a a cautionary tale about poor execution. If you want your multiplayer game to succeed, it shouldn’t need a million post-release patches just to get to a state of equilibrium with its players.
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