Anthem was one of the biggest reveals for both the EA and Xbox conferences this E3, with its slick graphics and flying mech gameplay. The short demo has been widely well-received, with most of what was shown marking a big departure from what Bioware is usually known for. For some fans, however, it's too big of a departure from the Bioware formula, judging from the responses on the studio's social media pages.
We don't know all that much about Anthem yet, but what we've seen so far definitely seems to resemble Destiny or The Division far more than it does Mass Effect or Dragon Age. Fans of the classically story-driven, single player RPGs are wondering why Bioware has strayed into the 'looter shooter' realm of other big publishers — especially when multiplayer has never been the studio's strong point.
What happened to deep single player story based games guys?
— XxXbox One XxX (@TheBaconBoots) June 11, 2017
While Anthem has been met with a lot of excitement already, this attitude couldn't be more removed from the reception it's been receiving on Bioware's own social channels. These are the top comments on the studio's two Anthem-related Facebook posts (click to enlarge):
In a blog post introducing the game, EA admits that Anthem doesn't look much like a standard Bioware game:
Today we unveiled Anthem, EA's newest IP. Our team at BioWare hand-crafted an entire new world, and equally as important, an entirely new experience. This isn't like any BioWare game you’ve played before – in fact, it's unlike any game we've ever made at EA.
Many gamers were sure that Anthem looked familiar from somewhere, however, even if it is new for EA:
— Lauren Ritchie (@no_im_spartacus) June 12, 2017
Doesn't just look like Destiny, it basically is Destiny.
— Oweeeeeeeen (@owster4) June 11, 2017
Our new fucking game with an original artstyle and world aka the fucking graphics card and zbrush robots pic.twitter.com/GPpaP9LOsi
— Circumsoldier (@Circumsoldat) June 11, 2017
So I'm guessing I can't get something like Mass Effect 2? Having a romance character, having a deep story. Nope. Just Destiny 2.1
— Joseph Meszaros (@joeman999) June 11, 2017
But one of the biggest reasons the reaction to Anthem has been so polarised is a sore spot for many Bioware fans: Mass Effect: Andromeda.
According to an investigation by Kotaku's Jason Schreier, the focus on Anthem (then 'Dylan') meant that many skilled devs were pulled off the Mass Effect title to work on the new IP. In the eyes of many fans, Anthem is 'the game that killed Mass Effect: Andromeda'.
In 2012, as work on Mass Effect 3 came to a close, a small group of top BioWare employees huddled to talk about the next entry in their epic sci-fi franchise. Their goal, they decided, was to make a game about exploration — one that would dig into the untapped potential of the first three games. Instead of visiting just a few planets, they said, what if you could explore hundreds?
Most were quick to notice that Anthem's showcased scenes wouldn't have looked out of place in a Mass Effect game, and reactions ranged from "why couldn't you have made this game Mass Effect?" to "I hope Anthem is worth it." Those who loved Mass Effect: Andromeda through its flaws are worried that 'their' game is going to be abandoned for Anthem. Others simply don't trust Bioware to put out a quality, polished game after their messy Mass Effect release.
That's it? A pretty Destiny clone? I didn't see anything that makes me want to play - certainly nothing thaf warranted tanking ME:A #letdown
— Master K (@Jedi_Master_K) June 11, 2017
hey, bioware? yeah i'm — look
anthem looked cool
the flying is — and the coop looks really nice but uh
can you fuck aliens, or
— Anthony Burch, sorry (@_anthonyburch) June 12, 2017
I kinda feel like this is what Andromeda could've/should've looked like ?
— Evelyne (@wookieeways) June 12, 2017
so this was what was worth more time and effort than banding together with the other studios to get Andromeda launch ready? Better be good!
— Russell Walters (@russellawalters) June 10, 2017
When you screw up your flagship title game so bad you have to start a new one to try and make people forget #AnthemGame
— Jordan (Jcubed) (@TheRealJcubed) June 12, 2017
Mass Effect: Andromeda aside, many players simply prefer contained, single player games with a deep focus on characters and story. Not only are Bioware well known for this style of game, they're also one of the few studios who actually develop them — while Destiny-esque shooters aren't exactly rare in the AAA market. So if Bioware stops making their classic narrative-driven style of game, what's left?
For many who don't have friends they can play with, or simply don't like interacting with real people in games, titles like Mass Effect and Dragon Age offered an escape into a fantasy world filled with interesting, well-rounded characters they could connect with. Now, these gamers feel like they're being pushed aside so Bioware can court the online multiplayer market.
no thanks i have enought shared worlds, i want games that i can play solo and not require to be online, i expect more from you @bioware
— Carlos Miguel (@Arukkard) June 12, 2017
Should us ME fans be worried? Are you guys gonna table future Andromeda/ME titles? Andromeda was a masterpiece. Don't let it end there!
— Ryan (@Whiskey_Grin) June 12, 2017
Why did EA buy Bioware if they move further and further away from the reasons that made them want to buy them in the first place?
— ZombieMan (@voteDC) June 11, 2017
While it's been said that Anthem can be played all the way through as a single player game, it's still yet to be seen whether the experience will be lacking if you don't play with friends, or if it will retain that distinctive Bioware focus on narrative at all. Anthem's lead designer Corey Gaspur has assured fans that there will still be a focus on single player, though has remained tight-lipped on what form it will take:
That type of detailed information will come sooner to launch. The SP experience is very important to us. Sorry for the delay in response.
— Corey Gaspur (@CGaspur) June 12, 2017
Of course plenty of people are excited about the shiny new game — but Bioware's core, rpg-loving fanbase is wondering if they've been left out in the cold.