I’m well on my way to hitting the 100-hour mark in my time with Anthem, in part because it’s my goddamn job but also because I’m a glutton for the grind. In all my time with BioWare’s loot shooter, however, nothing in the diverse array of bugs nor the plethora of petty inconveniences has filled with me with as much dread as the sight of yet another Ash Titan, the game’s most joyless boss.
This creature meanders through the world of Anthem with a level of aimlessness matched only by its complete contempt for everything in the immediate vicinity. Ash Titans have very few weak points, can take a ton of damage without dying, and carry around with them a bag of tricks so cheap that it feels sometimes like they might be broken.
Allow me to list the ways an Ash Titan can fuck up your day.
First they spawn elemental minions on the ground that like to crawl up onto wherever you’re taking cover and just explode. They also like to pull giant magical balls of radiation out of the ground and then hurl them at you. Also, the giant magical balls of radiation have homing technology to track your movements and follow you wherever you try to hide.
Sometimes, they’ll just summon these orbs of destruction exactly where you’re standing, and even if you’re able to dodge out of the way, good luck escaping the blast radius of the burn damage. Then there’s the huge ray of molten obliteration that an Ash Titan can fire out of its chest and aim with extreme speed and prejudice. Finally, because why the hell not, the Ash Titan can pound the ground to cause multiple waves of red hot hate to emmenate outwards in rapid succession.
Even if these attacks don’t kill you, which they eventually will, they’ll blow out your Javelin’s engines, causing your exosuit to overheat and sending you hurtling to the ground, because what’s more fun in a game about flying around like Iron Man than not being able to fly around like Iron Man? Instead of simply taking to the sky to avoid the Ash Titan’s wrath, it’s necessary to weave between the carnage like a pro boxer.
Except that’s really hard, because Anthem’s latency effects can still be pretty bad at times, so the game will often tag you as having been hit by an attack even when it looked like you dodged it by a few yards. I’ve fought Ash Titans with the swiftness of Little Mac only to have my face beat in like Rocky Balboa hanging onto the ropes in the eighth round.
It’s not even fun to kill an Ash Titan. Their weak points only open up on their arms and chests during attacks, and due to the hitboxes on these areas, it’s easy for your Javelin’s special attacks to miss the mark entirely. Spend too much time running away and hiding and you’ll never chip away at the Ash Titan’s spongey health bar. Turn and fight and there’s a fifty-fifty chance of any number of things immediately blowing up in your face.
I have killed many Ash Titans at this point. The game, in one of its more pernicious quest lines, even requires you to spend a couple hours hunting through the world for them in order to collect a made-up material that apparently only drops from their bodies, a task which also happens to nicely pad out the latter half of the main campaign. Unfortunately when their bodies finally crumble like, uh, ash, the rewards they leave behind are like the old neighbour down the street whose popcorn ball hits the bottom of your trick-or-treat bag with a cantankerous and underwhelming thud.
Anthem has a general problem of its hardest activities not feeling very rewarding, but nowhere is it most acutely felt than in the dismal grind of slaying Ash Titans. The normal cycle of a big bad boss is to fear it, learn from it, and then eventually experience the relief and pride of overcoming it, knowing you’ll be able to handle it with grace and ease should you ever encounter it again in the future. When it comes to Anthem’s Ash Titans, I’m only too happy to surrender to them and restart the game praying the matchmaking gods never pit me against another one.