Anthem, One Month Later

It’s been one month since Anthem released, though it feels like a lot longer. So much has happened: a lot of it bad, but also some of it good. Despite all of the game’s issues, it has a small but solid foundation for BioWare to build on.

There are also a lot of frustrating things still in the game, many of which, such the loot system, the player base has spent the last month discussion ad nauseum. Here’s what’s happened since release.


  • Anthem launches on February 15, sort of. The game’s release ends up being staggered.

    PC players who subscribe to Origin Premier are able to access the full game on the 15th, and Xbox One players with EA Access memberships are able to begin playing a 10 hour demo. Everyone else, including PS4 players, have to wait until February 22.

  • The game gets a small, server-side hotfix over the weekend of the 15th to make the game’s widely criticised Tomb Challenges less grindy.

  • Players discover Anthem’s version of the Destiny 1 loot cave on February 18. Masterworks, some of the game’s rarest loot, drops from randomly generated treasure chests in freeplay when playing on higher difficulties. A map of the most efficient route to get them starts making the rounds, but BioWare patches it by the end of the day.

  • BioWare releases a day-one patch on February 20, two days ahead of schedule, to try to fix some of the game’s biggest issues. These include long load times, games crashing, and players not getting loot from from enemies killed or treasures chests that are opened while they’re incapacitated.

    While the patch does address these problems once it goes live, it also causes others, including worse frame rates and the temporary removal of the game’s Stronghold quickplay feature.

  • The game’s loot system gets a lot more generous after a February 22 hotfix, but the effects end up being temporary. Lead producer Ben Irving confirms that the loot buff, which lasted approximately 11 hours, was actually an unintended bug, and the drop rates for rare gear are ultimately rolled back in a hotfix.

  • Reviews come out over the next few days, including ours, with most ranging from so-so to pretty negative.

    The game’s exosuit flight mechanics are almost universally praised, but other elements, like the mission design, user interface, and especially the loot system, are largely panned.

  • Clips of a glitch that allows Anthem players to stash one Javelin inside another start making the rounds on February 26.

    As a result of the glitch, players are able to mix and match abilities from different Javelins in order to make unofficial hybrid builds. BioWare eventually patches it out.

  • BioWare tries to make the game’s loot better by changing how inscriptions work in a February 28 patch. Rather than increase the drop rates for rare gear, the studio makes the stat rolls on individual pieces better, and also makes it so stats that don’t apply to that item can no longer randomly appear on it.

  • Players report that Anthem is turning off their PS4s. At least one person claims that their console will no longer turn back on.

    Overnight around March 3, players who believed their consoles to be bricked discover they can get them working again by holding down the power button to turn the PS4 on in safe mode. BioWare announces it’s looking into the issue along with people at PlayStation, and eventually reports on March 6 that it’s found no instances of consoles that were actually bricked by the game.

  • Anthem streamer and YouTuber Gladd gets temporarily banned from the game for using a damage exploit. According to him, EA told him the ban was for playing the game in a way that broke the terms of service. The exploit in question revolved around using the shoot and dodge buttons during an Ultimate to deal an extra one million points of damage during the attack.

    The community was surprised by the ban since Anthem doesn’t actually have any PVP elements, so technically the exploit wasn’t at anyone else’s expense. EA later told IGN that the ban would be limited to two weeks.

  • An image comparing features shown in Anthem’s pre-release trailers and what’s actually in the game starts making the rounds on March 6 Australian time. Irving takes to the comment section of the subreddit to respond, calling this the “cost of transparency” and pointing out that it’s normal for a game to change during development.

    A deeper analysis of what was shown off at previous E3s shows that there were indeed a number of changes, many of which appear to have reduced the emphasis on exploration and discovery.

  • Within 24 hours, players report that the starting gun actually does more damage than Anthem’s Legendary weapons. BioWare later confirms that this is a straightforward bug that will be addressed in the next update.

  • BioWare releases patch 1.03 on March 10 Australian tiem to address the PS4 shutoff problems, remove common and uncommon loot from dropping for high-level players engaged in end-game activities, nerf the game’s starting gun, and change how damage scales to match players’ average power ratings. The idea is to make Anthem’s hardest missions a little more forgiving.

  • For a brief period Friday night into Saturday, Anthem showers players with high level loot. The player base is ecstatic, but the bounty is short-lived. BioWare confirms the generous drop rates were once again a bug. Some players attempt to rally everyone around a weeklong boycott, but there’s no evidence that it ever actually takes off.

  • Anthem’s community director tells players that hostile replies have driven some of its developers away from commenting. “Things used to be a lot friendlier here for dev team members who normally don’t talk on social channels or forums,” Jesse Anderson writes on the game’s subreddit. He also tells the player base that BioWare is takes all the feedback seriously and is continuing to work on improving the game.

  • BioWare eventually makes some concessions on loot drop rates on March 15. An update increases rare drops for the game’s hardest activities in order to make them more rewarding and gives players a reason to work toward them rather than just repeating easier missions over and over again. BioWare commits to a bigger overhaul of the game’s loot system for some time in the future.

  • BioWare general manager Casey Hudson admits Anthem’s launch was “rougher than expected in a blog post on March 19. “We launched a game that so many of you tell us is really fun at its core, but we also had a degree of issues that did not reveal themselves until we were operating at the scale of millions of players,” he writes. He tells players to the next stage of the game’s content is when “things really get exciting.”

  • The game’s next set of changes get outlined on a March 20 livestream with the developers. Some of these include removing the loading screen to access the Forge, new icons on the map to highlight world events, and a new set of special treasure chests with unique equipment tied to particular missions.


And that’s where we are. Anthem’s launch has been anything but smooth. While bugs, crashes, and loading times have all been drastically improved, it still feels like there’s a lot missing. As a result, everyone is focused on the free content that will be added in the coming weeks and months.

The biggest of these is currently scheduled to arrive in May in the form of a Cataclysm, a “world changing event” that will showcase a longer, more involved, and more challenging Raid-like mission.


Comments

    This is a good summation without any of the emotion we've seen.

    I'm looking forward to the changes coming with 1.04 this week.

    Why do I have to scroll down so far these days to see comments... Its like another four full pages of crap, adverts and clickbait before I can see comments - pretty poor.

      omg, I was thinking exactly the same thing. It's so annoying and even worse on a phone.

      It feels like it keeps getting worse right!?

    Current drama. The long awaited Elysium Treasure chests announced the week before go live, reported to havevover 100 vanity items... bought up several times by developers when asked about "ingame armour" but devs always referred to as "vanity"... leading to confusing and misunderstanding...

    The Elysium Chests will only contain Vinyls (paint job layer for armours) and Animations (aka emotes)... NO ARMOURS!!! :(

    People arent happy with the misdirect to the armour issue being a box full of emotes

      Ben Irvo is a pathological liar.

        Wouldnt call it pathological... I think he read scripted EA approved statements without clarifying, to a question that was out of context.

        But I think Armour and Material patterns are the only thing peopke are spending Shards on... so EA was controlling the message.

        If you are talking about Ben Irvine, then yes, he absolutely is a bullshit artist, as his stint with SWTOR showed over the years he was in charge.

          With Disney's resurrection of LucasArts, I don't expect SWTOR to last longer than the 2022 EA contract. I'd expect a new MMO announced fairly soon after 2022.

    A lot of the listed events in the roadmap are just mob respawn changes in Freeplay open map... like spaening zones full of outlaws... but give little to no reward, and actually lowers the spawn rate of World Quests needed for dailies and challenges.

      Yep. The community has just realized this too.

      It's just more garbage. They confirmed that no new enemy types were on the horizon either.

    ... Otherwise the gameplay is still solid, the loot rates are better, and the pick up group players are not complete morons. More quality of life changes are welxone but as soon as they stop pitting put bugs and start actually getting back on track and make solid (and less mind numbing) decisions its still a 3month to a year of play stop play stop.

    TLDR Anthem, One month later: Still garbage. Very little has changed.

    Still no sign of basic missing features: waypoints, map markers, spawning close to death, STAT SCREEN, changing load out, real free-play.

    They also refuse to be transparent about what Cataclysms actually are. I'd bet $1000 they're just a storm in the sky that spawns harder Titans and other mobs. They already confirmed they have no new enemy types on the horizon.

    The game is dead in the water. It needs 12-18 months. 6 months just won't cut it.

    Last edited 25/03/19 12:40 pm

    For me: "Anthem, one month later: Sekiro just came out."

    Much like Destiny, I enjoy the core gameplay, but the quality-of-life features are so bafflingly absent, the endgame experience is so lacking in variety that the core gameplay can only carry it so far until boredom sets in.

    Actually, it's not even boredom... it's the instability, the bugs, the frustration of the loading experience.

    After a few times of me getting kicked or my partner getting kicked, and every single activity we attempt either side of getting kicked being book-ended by unacceptable load times, eventually, the next crash becomes the last one and you log off for the day, because I have a fucking limit to my frustration tolerance, and Anthem somehow manages to hit that limit every time I try to enjoy a play session.

    There's a tonne of good shit coming out this year, which I expect to occupy my time. I hope Anthem can pull off a Division-like effort to squash all the fuckery that makes it so hit-and-miss to play, and come up with just a truly 'good game', no qualifiers or disclaimers needed. I hope it doesn't take them as long as it took the Division.

      I know what you mean.

      I've been defending the load screens as not so bad, but after spending the last week or so playing The Division 2 going back to Anthem really highlights how bad the load screens are.

    Anthem one month later, all my friends are like "hey you up for challenge missions" (in Division 2)

      It's crazy the difference in quality between the two. I get Massive had Div1 to learn from their mistakes, but Bioware were apparently in a vacuum during development on this and never saw the mistakes by others they inevitably repeated.

        It does seem that way. The same can be said of Bioware's SWTOR, where they made so many mistakes that earlier MMO's made. One would think they could just google these mmo issues, and make a note to avoid them. But nope. Seems Bioware lives in their own world, where they know best.

        yea that's basically how I reviewed Anthem. if Anthem was made like a decade ago when looter shooter didn't really exist it would be amazing. Except it launched in 2019 and has basically every issue that other looter shooter had... and subsequently fixed.

        it's baffling and makes you wonder wtf BW was doing for 5 to 6 yrs

    I will be back to Anthem when I am done with Division 2 - and that will be a while.

    I really tried to love this game. It played so well and was fun. But it’s clearly very underbaked and needs another 6-12 months to get better.

    What EA don’t understand is, if they delayed 6-12 months they would get more money than launching in the state it did, and turning everyone off.

    I'm looking forward to playing it when it's finished in 2020.

    Seems I've had a loss less issues than most. Gameplay is still excellent with each javelin playing very differently from the others. It's definitely more fun combat wise than the competition. Looking forward to the new customisation options and more content.

    Why is this the standard from when dragon age was / is an amazing game series without patches to fix it. Stop enabling these people to seem that buyers are the trial "alpha period" moment for then others to finally join. We seem to be all paying for half games with out a complaint and I'm sorry but this sucks

    I enjoyed my time with Anthem. As everyone says the gameplay itself is solid, but there's so little to keep you entertained.
    The story was all over the place and rushed which is disappointing considering the beautiful world they've developed.
    It really feels like it just needed more time in the oven. So I might return in a few months to a year but for now, like a lot of other people, I've picked up Div 2 and it's nice to play something that just works...

    There's no doubt that Anthem was supposed to be a pretty different game than what we ended up with in my mind. Then time or funds ran out or perhaps it just wasn't technically possible given that we weren't shown anything but a vertical slice of what COULD be, and what was left was cobbled together with fingers firmly crossed that people wouldn't notice.

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