One thing I love about Anthem’s demo – available to a selection of people last weekend and to everyone from today – is its healthy serving of the classic BioWare gameplay loop. Half the fun of leaving Normandy or Skyhold was returning home afterwards, catching up with Garrus or Leliana and hearing about whatever they had going on. Calibrating some guns, probably. Anthem’s demo lets you go through this loop several times, placing you back in your solo instance of Fort Tarsis after shooting and looting with other players in the field. And while none of BioWare’s new characters yet compare to your favourites from other games, you get the feeling that, after just a bit more time, they might.
That feeling pervades Anthem’s demo – that after just a bit more time to tease out its sci-fi story and rocket about in its chunky Javelin mechsuits, the game may really come together and sing. But, unhelpfully, I’m still waiting for that moment – even after playing a larger chunk of the game at an event last week. On the one hand, the near-complete build I saw suffered none of the performance issues felt in Anthem’s demo version last weekend. On the other – well, if you’ve played the game’s demo there’s little more I can add about the activities within Anthem you can’t now already see for yourself.
What playing more of Anthem convinced me of most, I think, is how much BioWare is tackling with this challenge. It’s a bold play for both BioWare’s story-loving fanbase and people who love the kinds of games – Destiny, Division, even Fortnite – which demand you keep coming back months down the line. There’s a core narrative path to Anthem, of course, but the success of its world and I think the entire project hinges on how this latter part pans out.