Back at the height of “Destiny,” BioWare announced what was now an obvious attempt at competing with Bungie’s blockbuster shooter.
Much like “Destiny,” “Anthem” is a sci-fi action, role-playing game that encourages cooperative gameplay. Also much like “Destiny,” “Anthem” feels overwhelming and incomplete yet equipped with the potential for being an addictive shoot-and-loot experience.
It’s almost ridiculous how comparable “Anthem” is to the vanilla “Destiny.” Both feature a poorly told story rich with hidden lore, customizable characters you can outfit with found and crafted gear, a happy-go-lucky sidekick who narrates plot points in cheeky ways, different species of alien races to conquer, missions and free-roam exploration—the list goes on and on. It’s shameless how many ideas “Anthem” borrows directly from “Destiny.”
I have sunk only a few hours into “Anthem” so far, but I get the vibe that, like “Destiny” when it first released, “Anthem” is a bare-bones experience that has the potential for growth over time. I have no idea what’s in store with the endgame, but “Destiny’s” was bland until the release of the “The Taken King” expansion. I hope “Anthem” has enough post-game content to entice fans after its 20-hour story, but I’ll have to wait to see.
Unlike “Destiny,” “Anthem’s” core gameplay isn’t nearly as solid. Shooting in “Destiny,” feels tight, responsive and satisfying, but “Anthem’s” third-person firefights feel loose, clumsy and chaotic. Characters are equipped with customizable powers to amp up combat, but overall, it just feels bland.
“Anthem” has an overwhelming number of systems it throws immediately at the player, and not many of them are explained very well. There are missions, side missions, free-roam exploration, crafting, customization, alliances, challenges and so much more that I don’t expect to fully understand for several more hours. They are all designed to entice players and keep them exploring, but so far, I find it all confusing and poorly implemented.
One cool thing about the gameplay is the ability to fly. Missions take place in open areas, and it’s easy to get from one objective to another by taking to the skies and zipping straight there. To move from flying to shooting back to flying feels natural and fluid, and it’s about time we have the ability to fly in a sci-fi shooter. It also doesn’t hurt that the game is beautiful.
I want to like “Anthem.” It feels like the foundation for an addicting co-op game I can play with friends is there, but BioWare has a lot more building to do before it’s complete. The developers borrowed so much from “Destiny” they forgot to not borrow the mistakes, as well.
Stay tuned for my full review in the coming weeks.