Since its initial reveal in 2017, Anthem has been the topic of much discussion among both fans and skeptics. While fans eagerly anticipate a return to form for BioWare following the poorly received Mass Effect: Andromeda, others are simply morbidly curious about the extent of EA’s control over the game. However, whether one has faith in BioWare’s ability to deliver on its ambitious promises or doubts EA’s restraint, everyone seems to agree that the game’s success is critical for all parties involved.
FOR THE PLAYERS
For players, Anthem represents more than a typical new release, instead looking to improve upon the online action-RPG genre as a whole. Where Destiny and its sequel failed in terms of story and sufficient content, fans hope Anthem will deliver a more refined online experience complete with a rich world to explore and a genuinely engaging narrative to invest in. For Anthem to fall short of these expectations would naturally be a disappointment for excited fans, but, more importantly, it would be a missed opportunity to raise the bar for future titles in the genre.
Additionally, BioWare’s strong storytelling could set Anthem apart from its competitors with a necessary balance of both single-player and online content, giving users the freedom to play the game according to their preferred playstyles and needs. The developer has already teased as much, describing its approach with the phrase “Our World, My Story” in reference to Anthem’s “dynamic open world,” suggesting players will be able to seamlessly transition between a shared online experience and a personal, solo one. The effectiveness of this approach remains to be seen and, given that BioWare’s talent in this area is one of Anthem’s major selling points, its success is essentially necessary.
Having such a legendary name as BioWare behind a new, original IP should give fans hope that the project will be as excellent as the developer’s past work, yet many are instead skeptical about Anthem. The reason, seemingly, is Mass Effect: Andromeda: BioWare’s latest entry in the Mass Effect series, which was widely panned by critics for its frequent bugs, bad writing, and awful animations. The game received average reviews, though more was expected of BioWare, leaving disappointed fans confused and uncertain of the developer’s future projects.
Anthem is, therefore, BioWare’s chance for redemption in the eyes of expectant fans; with everyone’s focus on Anthem’s narrative content, an area in which BioWare has traditionally shined the brightest, the developer has the perfect opportunity to prove itself again. Above all, BioWare cannot afford not to fail: with fans to redeem, EA to appease, and the next Dragon Age game just around the corner, proof of BioWare’s abilities is essential.
Though EA has proven itself resilient enough to survive failures and controversies in the past, gamers have since become more vigilant of its practices, and the publisher cannot afford to make mistakes with Anthem. Having already frustrated many with the cancellation of another Star Wars game following controversies surrounding Battlefield V, EA is simply not in a position to further anger fans lest game sales and its already tainted reputation suffer. Ensuring Anthem’s success is therefore not only necessary for all others involved, but could somewhat restore faith in EA to treat its consumers better going forward.
However, EA’s willingness to do so is uncertain and somewhat unlikely. Following its many controversies, the publisher has been given countless chances to change its ways, yet every new release seems to betray fans’ hopes; for example, its promise to provide more free content in the sequel to 2015’s Star Wars Battlefront was infamously outweighed by lucrative microtransactions, resulting in a mainstream controversy and an irreparable reputation. Though Anthem’s executive producer has promised a lack of such aggressive monetisation, one must remain skeptical of EA’s restraint, even while so much depends on it.
Given Anthem’s incredible potential, the game’s success is evidently necessary for all involved: for the standard of its genre, the future of BioWare, and the reputation of EA. Though the situation is fragile, gamers will certainly be watching the game closely and judging whether such a gamble is worthwhile.