What Can Anthem Learn From Other Online Games?

Despite Anthem’s confusing release schedule and rocky demo last weekend, it has potential to go toe-to-toe with the growing selection of games that want to keep you around for a long time. But what’s it going to take for Anthem to start strong?

On this week’s Viewpoints, I talked with Kotaku’s Ethan Gach, who also played the game last weekend, to figure out our own histories with service games and what we hope Anthem can learn from its predecessors. At least for me, with Overwatch pretty much out of rotation, can this be my new “forever game”?

Watch the latest episode or read an excerpt here:

Paul: I remember the Call of Duty or the Battlefield series, for me, being one of the first times I remember getting map packs or new weapons. It extends the lifetime of this one game where presumably I don’t have to spend another 60 bucks every year to get the latest thing.

Ethan: Presumably!

Paul: Yeah we still see that happen. But for me, Fortnite was the first time I can recall signing up for a Battle Pass, because it gave you an incentive to play the same damn game over and over again.

But I’ve played Destiny, Destiny 2, Division — and this is just a personal issue, this is not a statement about service games in general. But for me, being someone who plays [one game] occasionally and not being able to keep up with your friends who are playing it all the time—

Ethan: Destiny’s biggest problem is balancing a game for the long term. The people who are playing every week or almost every day feel like there is a reason to do that and that they are being rewarded for that, versus the people who you want to bring back every few months when there’s a new DLC or major new update.


    Very much enjoyed the demo. What made it great for me is that teaming up with people was optional, though I realized that it was pretty much essential to do some of the quests with people.
    I just wonder though, will the general public leave me in the dust and move on to newer content if I don't buy this game until a year from now? Took me so long to pick up Destiny and by the time I did, there was hardly anyone around. Same with WoW after I quit for a while, coming back to a game with older content, it's pretty darn hard to get people to group with.

    Don't make grind everything.
    Have a good selection of distractions.
    Have a substantial and fun end game on release that will last long enough till DLC/content begins rolling in.
    Addictive hooks might keep folks around but so does genuine enjoyment.

    Most importantly, don't hide all the bloody vanity items, gear and customisation stuff behind a paywall, folks are more willing to throw some change at something that has given them something.

      >Have a substantial end game
      Unfortunately that one is already confirmed not happening
      Basically three large destiny strikes (the strongholds) and the Legendary contracts plus freeroam is the endgame

        It can be added to though. Many a game has started with just a raid or two, and gone on to far bigger and better things. WoW for example, and Everquest before that. Neither of those initially had planned for major endgame raiding, but it happened pretty quickly in both instances.

        Anthem seems set up pretty well to add that sort of content as needed anyway. New content can scale from basic free roam or quest content all the way up to full on Strongholds.

        If they don't add it, I expect they'll find players leaving in droves once they hit max level and find nothing new to do. Which obviously they don't want as people not playing means no chance of spending money.

          Yeah i agree, i mean its closest comparisons destiny and the division both had meh endgame and over the space of a year or so really improved it. But one would have hoped that bioware would have learnt from the big backlash and drop of player count those games experienced form said lack of endgame.
          Plus the person i replied to wanted "substantial end game at RELEASE" which is the main reason why i replied, because it wont be there at release. I hope it does get added to quick as i do plan to play this game at some point (demo put me off it for a little while).

            To use Everquest as the example, it started with nothing. Very quickly they put a couple of dragons in the open world that you could raid, then a couple of months later added one or two (might have been slightly staggered) endgame raid zones that were level locked. Dragons were just tucked away in the corner of open zones, on a week long respawn.

            The planes opened up armor tiers, and it was that which led them as the game evolved - pretty much every expansion had an armor set or two (or 3) for each class that was a step above the previous xpack.

            By the 3rd or 4th expansion it had the best endgame raiding I've seen in any game, either before or since, and its about to be a 20 year old game. The Planes of Power expansion was probably the peak for me personally, with the entire expansion designed around moving from one zone to the next through progression. The final raid zone was well worth the effort.

            Lots can be learned from how they went about it as well. Basically, once you hit the endgame, they built so much content that very few guilds ran out of things to do. I know we never did. Along the way they also added enough non-raid content for those not in a top tier raiding guild, so there was always something to aim for.

            But it started with just a couple of dragon's tucked away that you had to fight to get to, then kill. Also level locked by the way, but to a level a little above the original cap, so you couldn't come in during later expansions and gimp it.

            WoW would be the second best by the way, and I don't think any game has gotten remotely close since. Those two games built up such a wonderful process for raids that you were generally spoilt for choice.

            To see a game like Destiny 2 have a single raid and call in 'end game' always felt cheap to me. I was used to having dozens of options to look forward to, not one. While I dont expect EQ or WoW levels of content, I hope this doesn't settle for a few options and leave it at that.

              But I think part of the problem with endgame these days (and I'm sure I'm partly wrong here and am happy for people to correct me) is that creating this content is very expensive and very time consuming compared to back then? What with all the crazy textures and geometry etc. Another thing that would be a factor is being able to simply Google ANYTHING and you'll likely get a solution within days of release. Not that I ever experienced it but I have read a thousand times learning via community interaction was the only way to go about it back then ( which also made it extra special )?
              Ultimately, the developer should really extend their development time to really pad out the endgame , but in this era of shareholder's and big money publishers, that's not gonna happen.
              Anyway, people with more actual knowledge that isn't purely anecdotal please enlighten me I'd be very interested to know.

    Day 1, if the servers don't collapse that would be good start
    Day 365, if they haven't released multiple content expansion costing 100 dollars each and fragmented the community that would be a good sign

    I enjoyed Anthem's demo, with a bit of tweaking the flight controls was ok (on kb/m) and the combat is relatively solid in my books... but I'm not exactly rushing to get the game because there's so much unknown (end game, story, what the heck is the point of free roam etc)

      I had a bit of a play around in free roam today. It's mostly for getting crafting materials but its a fun way to cruise around, taking on challenges at your own pace. World events pop up which you can join in with the other 3 people on the freeroam map, or not.
      I somehow triggered an Ersix fight (think giant ape thing from the first video) and kept expecting someone else to jump in and help but they were off somewhere else so I spent 15 minutes taking it down (hard mode). Got some blues and crafting mats.

        ah i found a few bits and pieces from my missions, I guess that makes sense, kind of like the overworld from Division

        I was expecting world events but I didn't encounter any, glad you did. I guess it's just RNG where things are located (granted you can't even put waypoints on the map yourself so that certainly doesn't help the cause)

    Shooting and flying still feels floaty and comparing the shooting to Destiny( A game with many faults but not gunplay) it really doesn't have the same unique of each weapon or impact. I'll probably wait until the first entire Season Pass is out then check it again.

    I was pretty excited about this game.
    I played a solid 3-4 hours on the ranger last weekends demo and quite liked it.
    This week i got to try the other 3 suits and honestly i didnt really like interceptor or collosus and storm while kinda cool was a bit more boring (just float and shoot as you have like no shield if you arent floating). 3/4 javelins being meh has really put a damper on my excitement.
    Then the leak and confirmation of the pretty weak amount of endgame content has confirmed im not gonna preorder (got VIP access friend code). Will wait a while and see how long the story is and how good people say it is, plus see what DLC is gonna be added, then i will probably get.

    Heres hoping the division 2 does better as im keen for something other than destiny 2 for my looter shooter needs

      maybe try you luck? the private beta sign up is live so just open your ubisoft launcher and register

      it's pretty impressive just to read about what they are showing

        Yeah i signed up the day that opened up :)
        Hoping that because i bought the first one and the season pass i'll be given access.
        Yeah its pretty crazy how much they are showing off , it must mean they are pretty confident with how much stuff they have to do in the full game, which gets me very excited after the disappointment of anthem (with the confirmation of pretty lacklustre endgame, the combat itself is fun).
        I was originally planning to buy anthem at release and Division 2 probably mid this year, but i think ill do it the other way around now.

          lol I was originally going to buy neither but my friend linked me the private beta trailer and I've been back tracking Division 2 development. I have to admit I'm fairly impressed, it seems on paper the devs have taken all the lessons from the first game, applied it and built from that.

          I'm seriously considering a day one purchase currently

            Agreed. It seems like they are the only ones to have learnt from all the mistakes these games have made over the last few years.
            Destiny 1 launch, fucked. Destiny 2 launch, fucked. Division 1 launch fucked. Anthem launch, looking like it'll be fucked. Division 2 launch looking to be great (all these are content wise i mean).
            Bioware (anthem) and Massive (division 2) have the same games they can look back on and massive has really taken it all their problems heart whereas bioware have barely got more endgame (or content in general) than the worst previous ones.

            Admittedly this is still somewhat going by Massive's word of what their game actually has, so should be taken with a grain or more of salt. But with how much is in the beta and how long they've said the campaign is along with how big the map appears to be i think they are going to have likely the best launch content of any of these looter shooter games.

              today must be the day the press embargo lifts haha

              more biome diversity in the first 5 minutes then the whole of Division 1. yea if someone gave me $100 dollars and had me choose between Anthem and Division 2, I know what my choice would be

    What to learn? MMOs need shards of more than 10 people in one area.

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