BioWare has been asked – a lot – why it is the studio to make Anthem, a game far removed from its traditional single-player role-playing game fare. BioWare’s responses have been – ‘well, we’ve done multiplayer before’, ‘we’ve experimented in other genres before’, and also ‘would you please let us make something new for a change?’ And fair enough. But from day one, many BioWare fans have been turned off by the idea of a game not specifically built for them. (And I’m sorry BioWare, as much as you protest 1996’s Shattered Steel had multiplayer too, single-player RPGs are the million-selling corner of the market you have pretty successfully endeared yourself to.)
Yet a huge chunk of Anthem has been built specifically for BioWare fans – a chunk which is rigidly single-player, follows close to the studio’s recent formula, and where BioWare’s loremasters have been crafting characters and story which feel very familiar to the ones fans have previously fallen in love with. This portion of the game, Fort Tarsis, is a classic BioWare hub. And, for whatever reason, BioWare has barely mentioned any of it.
Anthem is being sold on its team-based shooting, its loot game and its shiny mech suits, but the part of Anthem I’ve found myself enjoying is the stuff you do when all of this goes away. When I step out of my mech suit, onto Fort Tarsis’ cracked cobbles and through its Moroccan arches, across its bleached plazas, down stairways flanked by uneven stones, into its dark undercrofts. Here you’ll find Anthem’s quest givers and random NPCs, lore tabs and collectibles. Here you’ll find a warmth, humour and depth not found anywhere outside its walls.