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'Anthem' Shows A Very Different Side of Bioware

The RPG studio is working off-menu for this one, and I'm not sure how the dish will turn out.

by Cameron Kunzelman
Jun 11 2017, 11:39pm

All images courtesy of EA

Bioware has finally showed us what Anthem is all about. Developed under the codename "Dylan," as in "the Bob Dylan of games" (as opposed to the Citizen Kane of games), Anthem looks to be a definite step for Bioware. I say a "step" and not a "step forward" because Anthem doesn't necessarily resemble anything that Bioware has released before.

The gameplay trailer shown during the Microsoft press event at E3 presented us with a first-person segment where an NPC begged us for help/gave us a quest, a "suit up" segment where the protagonist hopped into a powered robot suit, and some combat, exploration, and hanging out with some friends playing the game.

Those who are most familiar with Bioware's Mass Effect and Dragon Age franchises might not recognize much of those games in Anthem so far. In fact, based on the gameplay trailer, you might think that Anthem has more in common with Destiny or Ghost Recon Wildlands than it does with the games that Bioware has spent the last decade working on. Anthem appears to be the kind of game in which in can party up with your buddies and complete interesting science fiction dungeons and quests. You fulfill roles, and you chat, and you have a good time.

I enjoy Bioware games because they allow me to have longform conversations with aliens about the true path of the galaxy. I like losing party members and having to go find them in dangerous, well-crafted environments. I like longform monologues about the lore of this particular era.

Anthem needs the game to be quiet so you can talk to your buddies. It seems like its party dynamics are radically different than their other games because it needs to make room for your real-world buddies. The likelihood of minutes-long cutscenes looks grim.

Anthem seems like it has some amazing ingredients, and it's built from flavors that I tend to like, but it isn't the kind of dish I normally go to Bioware for. Working off-menu is always risky.