E3 2017: Anthem


It’s Mass Effect starring Tony Stark

Ever see something and swear it can’t be true? That’s me with Anthem.

I don’t have a legitimate reason to doubt BioWare. When they are on their game. They are almost without peer. Some of my all-time favorite games – Dragon Age: Inquisition, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Baldur’s Gate, to name a few – passed through their hands. Of course, when they misstep, it’s also epic. I mean, have you PLAYED Mass Effect: Andromeda?

With Anthem, though, I can tell this is their A game.

For the final reveal, EA’s Patrick Söderlund walked on stage and presented a six-minute gameplay trailer. The visuals were simply breathtaking. The trailer first shows a first-person cinematic where a female character pulls back a curtain and walks into an outdoor market. The character looks up and right to see a huge, lumbering AT-AT-like machine walking past slowly. The lighting, the other characters, the facial modeling and animation, the detail, EVERYTHING is absolutely stunning. Of course, this trailer is just a cinematic, but the trailer claims everything in rendered in-game. It is visually arresting.

Soon enough, your character walks up to a pad that has four exosuits named Javelins. They’re like an Iron Man suit but pilots have to climb in them. Once inside, the perspective switches to a third-person view. The character and another player-controlled Javelin fire off their jetpacks and set off to explore a vast, open world. They fly through a cave and a forest and even veer towards an ocean and diving underwater. The entire experience is buttery smooth and as beautiful as a 4K image can be.

The characters are “freelancers”, mercenaries who live behind the walls of a city that seems to hold the last remnants of humanity. The freelancers keep the population safe from vicious creatures and aliens names Scars. As a character, you frequently jet beyond the city walls looking for Scars to eliminate.

The Javelins are varied and can be outfitted to suit personal play styles. The character you are following mounts a Ranger, which is a good, balanced Javelin. The other player sports a Colossus, a heavier Javelin that can be equipped with heavier weapons like mortars, as that player is sporting. Zooming through the air looks awesome, as you would expect if you were outfitted as Iron Man.

Soon enough, the trailer shows off the game’s combat. I’ve seen more than a few people comment that the game resembles a mash-up between Iron Man and Destiny. They’re not far off. Instead of repulsor beams, your Javelin wields a pretty wicked shotgun. Even with the action getting fast and frenetic, there is not a hint of slowdown or dropped frames. Everything is smooth as silk.

The Destiny reference also refers to the gameplay. Anthem sports four-player co-op, so up to four friends can form a squad and take on the Scars. Of course, there is a loot system, and of course, a legendary weapon dropped during the gameplay trailer. After the combat, the trailer cuts to a shaper storm warning. Before long the elements get very hostile. Then two other players drop in, completing the squad, before they jump into a vortex. And…scene.

Although unseen, it’s logical that the game would have other mechanics like skill trees, level progression, and upgradeable skills. More plot points were not available, and none were needed. I was sold from the very moment I thought, “I AM IRON MAN!”

Anthem has no release date. It will release on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. I will be waiting with baited breath.

He has been playing video games for longer than he would like to admit, and is passionate about all retro games and systems. He also goes to bars with an NES controller hoping that entering the Konami code will give him thirty chances with the drunk chick at the bar. His interests include vodka, old-school games, women, vodka, and women gamers who drink vodka.

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