I recently put Anthem in my most anticipated games for 2019, and so having finally played the open demo (1st Feb to 3rd Feb) I thought I would write up my initial thoughts. In summary there are a few good things but I also have some major concerns at this stage.
Played on a PlayStation 4 Pro.
- The ‘verticality’ of the world. Rushing down the huge cliffs and waterfalls, or climbing high to get to a top of a mountain feels great. Also opens up some really interesting tactics in firefights, like being able to take refuge on a high vantage point. Makes games like The Division feel really flat in comparison.
- Flight works well. Controls take some getting used to, but being able to quickly fly around or get to another side of a firefight is fun and different.
- Combat feels good. The weapons feel impactful and some of the special abilities are great (R1 ability in particular).
- Freeplay mode with world events and organic grouping works well. Obviously very similar to Destiny.
- The game isn’t ready. Sure it might be an older fork of development but there are too many things wrong to suggest this will be ready at release. Even a demo should be fit for purpose. Particularly if it’s part of a paid package (pre-order bonus). I’ve had disconnects, crash to dashboard, sound cut out (had to close application) and graphics glitch so textures displayed incorrectly. Destiny in it’s alpha and beta demos, and The Division open demo were very stable by comparison.
- Performance isn’t looking great. Drops below 30fps on the enhanced consoles and the framerate fluctuates. Digital Foundry did a great summary of PS4 Pro and Xbox One X performance. DF’s similar analysis of the PC version sounds like the game has very high system requirements too.
- Not solo friendly. This might just be true of the demo. But as a solo player I could not get past the final part of the second main mission and struggled in certain sections. The demo doesn’t appear to scale in anyway. Hopefully this isn’t a thing in the full game, otherwise this is going to be a group co-op shooter only with limted endgame content for solo players (although this is often true of games of this ilk).
- Microtransactions. The recent reddit discovery did highlight that even if prices are £10, £20 or £30, that a lot of customisation options will likely be locked behind long grinds or real world money.
- Menus are a bit messy. UI feels slightly over flashy and clunky in places. Having to frequently back out of screens.
- Loading times slightly long and screens too frequent.
- Variety, or lack of. Will there be enough in the game? It felt like the core gameplay loop might get old quickly from the demo.
What the demo has succeeded at, even after a few hours, is making me lose interest in this game. Maybe one to check out later on. This has not been a good advert for the game.
After release it should become clear how the microtransactions work, how large the game world is, how much solo friendly content their is, whether the servers hold and if the game’s stability is improved. As ever we won’t really see any of this detail until after launch and reviews as players have the game in their hands.