Community Review: Anthem Beta

With the public beta for Anthem done and dusted, and the VIP beta just before that, everyone interested has finally had a chance to have a shot at Bioware's sci-fi co-op flyer. Question is, what do you think?

Those who played in the public beta had the fortune of missing most of the connection issues that beset the VIP period. Server issues prevented plenty from even connecting, with the problem getting so bad at one point that other EA games, servers and logins were affected. Others were able to get past the login issues, but were presented with an infinite loading screen instead. Sometimes that appeared before connecting; at other times, players would get hit by the load of death after completing a mission.

Anthem's First Demo Weekend Was A Mess

Anthem, BioWare’s upcoming online loot shooter, has some cool ideas. Unfortunately, the game’s demo last weekend was so busted, it was hard to get a good feel for the game.

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The public beta had far fewer issues, although there were still some performance quirks depending on what platform you were playing on. I heard multiple reports over the weekend of frame rate drops on the PS4 Pro. Digital Foundry spotted a fair amount of instability on both of the consoles, but discovered that the frame rate could be improved substantially if the PS4 Pro's output is manually locked to 1080p in the settings.

For what it's worth, the Xbox One X does render internally at a maximum of 4K, while the PS4 Pro tops out at 1800p.

Other issues that players noted in the open beta, ones less tied to performance include loading screens when opening your inventory, no text chat, slow animations for the menu UI (remember No Man's Sky at launch), quirks with mouse and keyboard input (although the developers posted on Twitter that these should be corrected by launch), and no HDR available in borderless fullscreen for PC users.

But those are just some of the complaints I saw across my feed and publicly, and plenty of those also had plenty of fun with the flying, general concepts, the freeplay system, design, visuals and javelin customisation.

But what about yourselves. Did you try either of the Anthem betas, and if so, what did you think of it?


    Anthem is the answer to the question "What if Warframe was shit?"

    It's a bit of a mix from me. The shooting was super routine and unsatisfying - I think mainly because enemies rarely flinch or react at all to what you're doing. That said, the skills were pretty fun, and hopefully are more interesting in the full game. It definitely seemed like it's a game that almost has to be played with three people coordinating closely, building up combos and using the unique skills of each Javelin class in tandem with one another.

    The flying was pretty great, except for actually controlling it with a mouse, and don't get me started on trying to control your Javelin underwater.

    The menus though, are horrendous, and why can't you change load-out on the fly (pun intended)?

      and why can't you change load-out on the fly (pun intended)?

      I think they are going for the same reason you cannot change load outs on the fly in Mechwarrior. These are mechs with no pockets. Makes more sense for you to be outfitted back at base imo.

      Has any game done location-based damage as well as Goldeneye on the N64 - 20 years ago?! If you shot a guy in the foot, he grabbed it and started hopping around. You could even shoot hats off. If they took this kind of design into Anthem, it would be awesome.

    When it works its great fun. However more often than not, for me, the VIP and normal Demos just didnt work well. Luckily I had played the Alpha and had no issues with that at all otherwise it would have tainted my take on the game terribly. For now am still looking forward to it.

    I played Anthem last weekend and yesterday. What can i say ? I do not like it.
    It was fun for the first 4-5 hours, but after it becomes quite boring and repetitive.
    I am aware that we got demo/beta version, but i do not feel that full game will offer a much different and better experience.
    Four my mates also decided to pass on Anthem, for different reasons i suppose.

    I'm pretty god damn hyped for the full game. The shooting, the flying, the abilities were all deeply satisfying (nothing like running around as a Colossus with your shield out, ragdolling enemies all over the shop then giving them a coup de gras HULK SMASH to disrupt a choke point).

    There's many, many Quality of Life parts that need some work, and their approach to handling communication and grouping is probably one of the worst I've experienced since trying to play dial-up Quake with my friends in the 90s, but, "When it works..." yeah, it's great.

    When it works.

    That's a big fucking caveat that you wouldn't think would be so dire for a AAA title that is by all reports getting the benefit of massive public testing for a smoother release... But I'm less confident after the open weekend than I was after the VIP weekend about EA/Bioware's ability to handle the clusterfuck.

    For every 12hrs I attempted to play the VIP demo, I played for about 2... primarily thanks to not being able to actually get into a javelin because of the 95% load bug.
    But those hours I was actually in the game, it was pretty smooth and generally flawless from a networking side. (Failing as soon as the mission was finished, at which point I was up for hours of frustration trying to play again.)

    In the open demo, the 95% loading screen issue was gone, but the quality of the rest of the game - while playing - reduced dramatically. Random disconnections for no reason, no ability to re-join existing sessions, error messages that interrupted play every time a piece of loot was picked up, rubber-banding, and more.

    I'm pretty sure the servers are going to shit the bed in a catastrophic way come launch day.

    My hypothesis is this: The 95% load bug for the VIP window meant that out of the incredibly limited pool of available players, most of those people couldn't actually play, which reduced expedition world server load for handling. Can't be lagged to fuck and under heavy load if no-one can actually get to that stage, right? *taps forehead* With the open beta being available to a greater number of players, and the 95% bug gone, the servers were free to get fucked up by load. And boy did they ever.

    Launch will be bigger. The number of people who could be bothered to download a 50GB game available for a 2-day window just because it's free will probably be dramatically outnumbered by the people who are going into it on launch, knowing that it will be a better build, with progress that won't be wiped, starting from the beginning and not the middle, with no restrictions/spoilers.

    As always, launch will probably be a shitshow of unavailability and apologies. The white knights who've used, "The launch build fixes all the bugs of the demo so quit complaining," will be devastated to discover that many of the bugs/design flaws/performance failings still exist in the launch build, combined with new bugs, and servers that won't stay up long enough to complete their missions.

    I'll probably try to struggle through it, though.

      Interested in having someone else to play with? I really enjoyed the demo, but it does very much feel like the sort of game that's a lot more fun playing with people you know (or can get to know) rather than randoms. And unfortunately none of my friends with a PS4 are interested.

        Haha, maybe. My PSN’s ‘tsquare82’ if you want to send an invite. Warning though: the timing of launch is terrible for me - my fiancée wants to play this one together because she’s a huge BioWare nerd, but also wants us to wait a couple weeks after launch because her mother is staying with us for that time and she doesn’t want us both sitting on the couch gaming instead of being more social. XD (I’m totally going to sneak in some play on the PC during that period.)

          Hah, all good. Shouldn't be an issue, as I'll hopefully be playing the game for a little more than two weeks! It seems like the sort of game where it doesn't take too long to catch up, gear/level-wise. Will send the invite.

      Interesting, never had any disconnect issues from my end (PC)
      Had one crash to desktop but that's about it.

      How fun is that Colossus though? Difficult to build up for survivability (or maybe I'm just shit) but the damage potential is fantastic.

      Overall I'm super hyped for release, honestly cannot wait

      You might be right... this past weekend felt *way* more unstable than the VIP demo. Last weekend on PC, I had no issues beyond the first 5-6 hours of not being able to get in. No DCs, no server crashes, no infinite load screens... once the login got sorted, everything worked really well.

      This weekend, on PC, I encountered a bug preventing me from leaving Free-roam, multiple server crashes and DCs. On PS4, I encountered (horrible performance aside) server crashes and DCs during free roam, a full crash to home screen, and an infinite load screen at the end of the second mission - did not go back after that.

      I'm more than happy to let EA Premium subscribers spend a week bug testing the final build for us, and will be closely monitoring their feedback. Might even leave it until the endgame gets a bit more content... EA's embargo lifting on this kinda kills the reason any of my friends would be playing, so I'll probably just hold off for a while.

        Apparently the public beta was an *older* build of the game than the VIP demo.

          I really hope that was the case - it would make sense given how different some of the enemies felt (I don't remember ever getting stunned/stunlocked in the VIP demo, for example), as well as the worse performance this time around.

    I must say It didn’t really spark joy for me... I played the story missions, it seemed ultra generic - but it was only a small taste, so who knows!

    The shooting is not great, not nearly as satisfying as popping headshots / weak spots in destiny. The guns are extremely meh, both aesthetically and practically - feel like BB guns!

    The second mission, where you fight this tank thing, gave me such destiny PTSD, I nearly closed the game then and there. Wailing on a big bulletsponge for ages while dodging adds - I just don’t feel like doing that again.

    The world is truly beautiful, it’s awesome to explore with a javelin, and it ran pretty well for me (between 50 - 75 FPS gtx1080/8600k/1440p)

    Overall for someone new to the genre, I think they will enjoy it, as I said earlier, I don’t think I want to go through that never ending grind again - it kind of starts to feel pointless.

    I might wait a few weeks after launch to see if it goes on sale for 50% off like battlefield V, and depending on reviews, then pick it up.

    Yeah I jumped on. Menus are slower than D2. The town hub takes forever to travel from one point to another. You have to got to a vendor to change your load out, can't change mid game, and honestly I have no idea what I'm shooting at half the time. I just shoot at anything with a health bar. It's a bit of mess. Gameplay is 3rd person but in the town hub it's 1st person, and you walk so slowly. I played a mission, tried messing with my armour and load out and then tried launching another mission and it crashed.

    I uninstalled because the entire menu system is confusing. Like you open the menu to launch a mission, but instead you have to open the map select the mission, go out of the map and then you launch into it. Not only that but it looks like you level up to unlock different javelins (suits) and in the demo you can try out 2. I would have thought the demo would let you try them all, as well as let you use some really powerful weapons to see how insane/fun the gameplay would be.

    Definitely not going to pick it up

    I didn't get to play the demo, but every screenshot reminds me of Destiny. Is it just me, or does the aesthetic seem quite similar?

      I think it's just you, but I've played both games so my view is probably skewed. it actually reminds me of ME:A more but I'm open to some comparison screens

      Visually I've had reminders of Destiny since the Alpha, but gameplay wise its felt different. Theres less sense of solo play, and the world feels much bigger, even on closed maps, just because of the vertical gameplay flying adds.

      But screenshots do look like Destiny to a point.

    So, I’m probably gonna be the odd one out here, but I loved it! Sure, there were bugs and issues with it on the first weekend, but life is imperfect and I, personally, had no issues with the second weekend. It worked perfectly then.

    Besides that, this was a game that made me feel like I was Iron Man. Straight-up. Seeing a bunch of enemies in the distance, leaping into the air in my awesome, freshly-painted armour, then rocketing straight at aforementioned enemies, before firing-up the special Ranger skill which targets multiple enemies with seeking missiles launched from my shoulder! BAM! Sign me up for more of that, party people! Hell yeah!

    Unlike most, I’m not gonna bemoan server issues, or curse EA, I’m just gonna say "thanks for letting us have the keys to your fancy new car so we could take it for a free spin, I appreciate how much fun you guys let me have. Cheers!"

    as I said before, overall Anthem feels solid. It's mildly annoying that abilities are unlocked via the loot system but that's a minor gripe. that said there are far too many unknows for me to commit.

    to me Anthem feels like Division / Destiny 2 not the Division / Destiny 2 of today but when it was first launched on PC. Assuming the server doesn't collapse day one, then the SP will be perfectly fine, the end game progression will be questionable and a ton of QoL features will be missing but be put on the road map

    The loading. Holy shit, the loading!

    Hard pass for me.

    Thought the flying was pretty neat, moreso than I expected, but the controller layout confusing and the shooting barely passable (this coming from someone who did not enjoy the Andromeda combat the way a lot of people on the internet seemed to). Missions seemed way too long with the long bouts of flying in between targets (it was... fun?, but felt like filler also).

    Needless to say I will be unlikely to get it. Much prefer both Division and Destiny atm

    Definitely has potential, but it absolutely feels like a wait 6 months and get it on sale sort of game for me, still quite a few glitches and annoyances and some just poor or disappointing game design decisions.

    Twice i went to load out of one of the "dungeons" and just got teleported to a glitched out N64 version of the world that i could barely move in.
    Also a couple crashes and so many loading screens.
    I assume a bit of this will be fixed as the last month or two of game development is bug fixing and optimising, plus release day drivers will help (on PC).
    But still how questionably it all went did not leave me with confidence.

    Also the guns were a lot more boring than i was expecting, you've got like turbo mech suits that have lasers and elemental powers but then your guns are are as normal and modern day as the ones from the division, missed opportunity there. Though i assume some of the higher end ones might change that (hopefully).

    Im hoping that what is released is better than what the demos made it seem as i was quite excited for this game.

      I agree with the waiting 6 months part. Between how rocky the game was for me and my friends and a real lack of endgame content from the looks of what they have talked about I'm actually quite looking forward to playing this in several months when there is a lul in other releases.

        Yeah, i feel like its going to be like the launch of Destiny 1, Destiny 2 and the division, mediocre at launch but after 6-12 months a really good game (especially because by then it'll be on sale)

    I played for about an hour on an original Xbox one and the performance in the home base was horrendous but luckily got better once i got out into a Javelin (playable but choppy as hell). The guns felt really bad but the real killer for me was the respawn system, two of my team went AFK and me and the other player went down in a non-respawn zone trying to save me, sat there for a while waiting but help never came, after a bit i just gave up and finished God of War instead.

    Love me some loot shooters but this really looks pretty bland to me (gameplay-wise). Visually it's beautiful though.

    Technically it was a bit shakey (I only had server transfer issues) but I can see if it can clean up the technical issues it will be a good Bioware game... that said, its not the best Online game with only 4 people in an instance and a "hub" that is just a story hub that feels like your walking through a swamp (slow walking urgh).

    Biggest concern is missing quest story due to (and not being able to replay quests, or cut-scenes, or get a quest recap)... my final cut scene broke, and I didn't see the end of the manifold quest line. I don't know how we save their 3 lives.

    Why do games insist you need 3 friends - and only 3 friends with the same time commitment as you to maximise the experience... I felt like I was being robbed of a true Mass Multiplayer experience not being able to interact with the wider player base. That said the matchmaking for lower difficulties was not aggravating. (except that 3 colour puzzle ARGH! less of those.)

    That said... I can see me spending 50-100 hours to maximum level and reach the end game plateau before I get bored if their isn't an end-game hook.

    Ranger was cumbersome to use, I felt like I was going to be Ironman... and kept crashing harder than War Machine in like every movie hes been in.

    Storm at at L12, OMG I found my main... felt more like a range dps from City of Heroes than a rejected Call of Duty soldier with a broken jet pack...

    Colossus looked like fun from observing others, could see that as my alt.

    Interceptor... HELL NO!!! Thats going to be a nightmare. It would be like strapping a jet pack to a rogue in world of warcraft and telling it to close its eyes cause you always loose your barings or are blinded by "spell effects".

    Thats one thing... it looks great, but not practical. When the Storm drops like 4 meteors on a group of targets you lose sight of everything as a near-epilisy inducing light show covers the whole screen. They should of tonned it down a bit there... cause its the one thing that is limiting more than 4 players per map.

    Another pet peeve, why do looter shooters... require me to loot??? If a rare token drops, automatically credit it to me, why do I have to run to the exact spot it dropped, it breaks the action ever time or you get that end-of-skirmish moment where everyone runs around like squirrels on LSD chasing invisible things only they can see!

    Game is great, ran perfectly for me on PC. The guns actually have quite a few different types but you'll be using abilities most of the time anyway if they aren't your cup of tea.

    I found flying ok with mouse and they've updated the controls for release to provide a wider range of input adjustments.

    Definitely still pretty hyped after playing through both the VIP and open demo. It has a lot of elements that shine in other games sure, but it doesnt feel like any of those. Diablo, Destiny, Mass Effect, Warframe, The Division, they are all different. Its definitely got the bioware asthetically pleasing aspects and the seemless transition from flying in the air to cutting thrusters and diving feet first into a bioluminesence wonder world that is a deep lake is quite amazing. I can honestly just hope they've tweaked the controls better and fixed the occasional disconnects cause they really killed the fun so frequently.

    Luckily performance wise PC was pretty good, I run an older 980ti and SSD and was still pretty happy on 1080p through a demo.

    Played on the PS4 Pro, the loading between some areas of a mission is insane, it breaks the flow of the game big time for me.
    Definitely will be a wait and see one for me.

    The game for me is a big bowl of Meh! I expected more, given what Bioware did to their other franchises to get here. It brings nothing new to the table, nor makes me look forward to it. What burns me most about Anthem though, is that the Mass Effect franchise died, & SWTOR is on life support, all because EAWare funneled all resources into Anthem. And this is the end result?

    When it worked, it was great. It certainly passed the can I play the same dungeon all day test. Everything I didn't enjoy was fixable.

    Unfortunately for BW I remember the launch of SW:TOR, and how both bugfixes to end game content and adding new content took forever. The first raid was bugged to the point of being unfinishable 1/3 of the time. The week they fixed it my guild completed the nightmare mode no deaths achievement without trying. The first content patch took forever. One time they did a major patch that added features like guild banks. The next night they patched the interfaces for all the QOL improvements away.

    I guess the fact that I haven't read any stories about major software management fuckups in TOR for years (yes it's still running) means they might have made major improvements since my group quit the game. Or is it because the press have stopped caring?

      Because I can't edit my comments I forgot to add it took them 6 months to fix the first raid.

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