Everything About Anthem’s In-Game Stores Is Bafflingly Bad

Everything About Anthem’s In-Game Stores Is Bafflingly Bad

Every time I log into Anthem I stop by one of its in-game stores, and every time I am disappointed. The selection is bad. The three-day refresh is bad. Even the locations of the in-game shops are bad. It boggles the mind.

Pictured above is Prospero, the first vendor players come across in Anthem’s home base of Fort Tarsis. Prospero talks a big game: He says he’s helping Freelancers bring the thunder and lightning by selling new armour, emotes, and decals to decorate their mech suits. Propero has six things for sale at a time, rotating out every three days or so. Six whole things.

As of this writing, Prospero is selling a “Tell it to the Hand” emote, the coveted “Heavy Air Guitar” emote, three decals, and a fabric texture. Players can spend their hard-earned coin on these items or buy them with “Shards,” Anthem’s real-money currency.

It’s all cosmetic stuff, which is fine. No one can use real cash to purchase anything useful. But with only six items in rotation at a time, chances of a player finding anything they want in the store are slim.

Let’s visit another vendor. How about Sayrna, voiced by the outstanding Kristen Schaal, AKA Louise from Bob’s Burgers. She runs Anthem’s Regulator Store. Let’s see what she has for sale.

Oh. The same stuff. Well, Fort Tarsis is pretty big. I suppose it is nice to have access to the store in different locations for the sake of convenience.

Yeah, I don’t know why there are two stores feet away from each other selling exactly the same things. Confusing things even more, sometimes, when I open Prospero’s shop, it triggers a voice clip from Sayrna thanking me for dropping by or telling me she’s got the best stuff in Fort Tarsis.

Confusing matters even more, entering the main menu of the game and navigating to the “Featured” tab brings up the same damn store no matter where you are in the fort.

For extra added fun, Sayrna’s voice clips even activate when opening the in-menu shop.

The placement of the stores makes no sense. Neither does the six-items-on-rotation thing. During a Twitch stream several months back, BioWare developers showed off a slew of material types, decals, and parts that could be acquired in-game to spruce up players’ rides. Now the game is out and we’re being fed a slow trickle of items.

A handful of decals and one or two materials are on sale at any given time. We’ve seen some special mech parts show up in the store since launch, but it looks like there are only four variations for each of the four mech classes so far.

Players can also purchase parts, decals and emotes directly from the Forge loadout menu.

We’ve got too many places to buy too few things, with days of waiting between in-game shop refreshes, hoping something cool shows up. It’s nice to see EA and BioWare going light on the microtransactions, but how is my robot suit supposed to be as pretty as it can be if I don’t have access to more options?

I know, she’s super pretty as she is.


  • The stores are explained by one being the Coin Resource store and the other being the Shard Cosmetic store with their own charactervoice acted and stories… but at some point later they merged them into a tabbed store and made it more accessible which defeated the vendors… but they already were done.

    The wierd part to me is the only 6 items per three days… I can understand time gating but when players will burn out before the hot ticket items spawn is stoopid…the item shop seem so random already in game it feels a bit henious not to have access to the suits or patterns after they are “Featured”.

    And does a featured item get repeated… or is totally random and will l never see the Digital Camo Canvas pattern I saw in demo.

    This trickle seems counter productive especially since I started the game late and miss out on the option of 4 suits… worse part I sae the Talon and Diggs NPC suits in game and I want those ones… are they an option. WHO KNOWS???

  • Anyone else get the feeling that despite being in development so long, all that was really developed were the game mechanics? Everything else screams ‘last minute’ to me, such as this lack of store products, lack of mission variety, lack of weapon differentiation… and that’s even leaving aside all the bugs. I wonder if there is any truth to the rumours that the project was rebooted twice, and that EA eventually lost patience and shoved it out the door, ready or not.

    • Well, the game originally wasn’t going to have a hub area. But then when they said it would just be a lobby to go play the game, people lost their minds and Bioware threw it together in a few weeks. Could easily be why all the vendors have the same shit. They weren’t supposed to exist in the first place.

      • No you’re confusing the hub area with the “social space”. The hub area was always in it but they added the very lackluster social space where you could hang out with other players at the last minute.

    • There was definitely something iffy going on during production to end up with the game we got. It wouldn’t surprise me if a few months from now Kotaku had a feature article with a bunch of BioWare developers anonymously talking about what went wrong during development.

    • I think a lot of the writing was done early, too. It’s really good. I actually misread the title of this article as ‘stories’ instead of ‘stores’ and was ready to spit fire.

      Your dialogue options aren’t exactly ‘meaningful’ in terms of they don’t change which missions you get access to, but it definitely has an impact on the lives of the NPCs you converse with, and even the most seemingly innocuous choices are often referred to by characters later on. I saw this playing side by side with my partner and making different choices. For example, I’d tell Yarrow that good memories stick with me longer than the bad, and she chose the opposite. Later on, a good three or four conversations later, Yarrow brings it up and incorporates that choice into a story he’s telling. And I’ve seen this several times over with many NPCs. Sometimes direct mentions in future conversations, sometimes a change in the manner in which they treat you generally, sometimes in codex entries, sometimes in overheard conversations. It’s subtle, but it’s effective. Someone put a lot of thought into it, and it really helps bring me right into that world.

      As for the store and other things… well, it’s absolutely true. A lot of these things are 100% last minute.

      Prime example: As you increased in pilot level, you used to unlock a talent or ‘mastery’ tree for pilot skills, which would let you choose minor upgrades like flying thruster speed, harvesting bonuses, reduced ‘overheat’ cooldown, etc, etc. After they did their ‘early access’ playtests with a bunch of prominent streamers, however, they scrapped the system and shifted its functions into other, brand new menus.

      Components took the place of many of the more poweful skills, and the less-exciting straight upgrades got converted into a one-time-use-per-mission crafting-sink consumable system called ‘sigils’.

      I can’t say it was necessarily the wrong call – the pilot skills sounded boring, and tying the interesting skills to components keeps them both limited and hot-swappable between missions without having to worry about costs, etc, etc… but they needed more time to cook. It through scaling out, crafting the sigils is a time-consuming pre-mission chore that wastes valuable resources that are necessary for spamming pulls of the gear-upgrade slot machine lever, craftin in bulk isn’t possible, one of the pop-up tips that appears on hitting max level tells you that you can start earning mastery points still…

      All symptoms of a system that was good in theory, but needed more time in the oven.

    • I’m afraid the game mechanics were already released with Mass Effect: Andromeda (i’m not even joking, they just extended the flight timer for the hover system), I honestly believe that the only effort that has gone into this game was the paint/skins/cash shop, everything else seems like an addle brained Frankenstein from developments past.

  • I think I ended the Propsero story line just as the store changed saying he brings the Thunder, wants Freelancers to look awesome and inspiring… and an hoir later he delivers a wimpy looking air guitar solo.

  • Another thing that’s bad about the store, is you can’t preview what any of the decals/materials/armour pieces look like on your javelin from the store. You need to go to the forge, look at the buy tab and see from there. You can also buy those items directly from the forge so there’s no need for the store.

    • It’s so fucked. No one individual screen shows you everything. You can preview an individual emote/fabric/decal from that section of the forge, but not see what else is on sale.

      You can go to the kiosk in the fort to access crafting materials or cosmetics (the article is wrong about this – talking to Prospero shows the cosmetic store, talking to Sayrna shows the materials store, but you can tab between them instead of walking the three metres to the other stall), but there’s no reason for both to really exist when they just let you switch to the other through a tab, and both can be accessed directly from the touch-pad menu, literally anywhere. And if you want to purchase any cosmetics from Prospero’s kiosk or the featured tab on the menu, you can’t actually purchase it directly on that screen – you get taken to the ‘full’ store, which only shows exactly the same shit, plus your redeemable rewards from preorders/dlc/etc. It is, in fact, the only place you can get those redeemables.

      It’s the exact opposite of a cohesive, fluid experience.

      Much like Fallout 76, I’m pretty sure the groundwork of this store’s structure was built with a reliance on the ability to sell lootboxes, and for far more time, money, and effort to have been spent on putting in cash-only items. Battlefront 2 is the straw that breaks gamer camels’ backs, courts are looking at lootboxes and banning them in some countries, and everyone kicks dirt over the foundations of their upcoming stores and declares proudly that they won’t sell lootboxes and they won’t sell P2W. But it was there. The Fallout lunchboxes are there. And why have identical two stores in Anthem if one of them is meant to be the ‘featured’ selection and the other show everything? Because there was meant to be more content there, but now there isn’t because it wasn’t worth spending money on developing if it couldn’t yield returns from compulsive gambling behaviours and whales?

      • That said, it doesn’t take much away from the experience, because who gives a fuck about the store? Maybe Fashionlancers, but the main part of the game – flying and shooting – is still an engrossing mindworm that I can’t wait to get back home and keep doing. And I even did a little this morning before work.

    • right now, I would go with Anthem mostly because ME:A is still a complete single player package with a 30 to 40 hr length that overall really isn’t as bad as people keep saying it is. basically temper your expectation, it’s not the second coming of Jesus and it’s no where near as epic as the entire ME trilogy before it but it’s still decent

      Anthem has a lot of interesting story bits but none of it amounts to anything because the world itself has to be shared with real people (the fort is your personal space). it has solid game play but no activities to support it. it demands people to group up and work together yet offers no tools to do so. without friends it’s basically an exercise in frustration.

      • This is fair, and I totally played Andromeda 4 times through for platinum and then once again for fun, but Anthem scratches the ‘drop in for half an hour’s play with jetpacks and chainguns’ itch that I’ve been so very, very hungry for.

        Solo/with a partner is actually pretty great, you are given options to ignore everyone else, but by GOD I wish the game would stop being so fucking passive aggressive in its nagging that playing solo/2-player is somehow ‘doing it wrong’.

        • lol I think the only game with more confirmation boxes is The Division

          every time you start an activity in private mode Anthem basically goes “ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO DO THIS?!”

  • I’ve gotten one thing from the store, “The Robot” emote. Sadly, it’s way too fluid and hardly noticeable.

    • I got the flex for the express purpose of annoying my partner, and the ‘talk to the hand’ is amazing. I grabbed the chest-bump, because the ‘lazy salute’ victory pose is boring in the extreme and I really just wish I could give the thumbs-up on that screen.

  • People complain when there are too many microtransactions, people complain when there are not enough microtransactions. I think at this point if Anthem made gold doubloons pour out a USB port while you played people would complain about it being a back port instead of a front port.

  • Wow, such biased bs above had to log in. YOU MADE ME LOG IN.

    The game is fun. Combat is great. There are genuinely interesting stories. Exploring is great. Maybe smarter enemies would be nice rather than the shooter version of plants v zombies but still room to move.

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