What is Bioware's ANTHEM?

“Follow us into the unknown.”- Anthem Official Twitter

            A blurry scene, powered by Frostbite. A worn-down wall, but was it once a fortress? A marketplace in a city or town. Is this a last refuge or a beachhead for future offensives and exploration?  An alien beast walks in the wild. A brutal storm ravages the surface with mysterious “T” shaped structures in the background. A metallic mask. Golden glowing eyes. An exo-suit opens. It’s empty. A shot of the full suit takes over the screen as the camera slowly retreats, its menacing glowing eyes capturing our attention. This is Anthem. This is Bioware’s new IP.

“Allies unite to explore what’s beyond…”

            For several months, we’ve known that the Bioware studio that worked on Mass Effect 3 was also working on a huge, massive project. However, not until the EA “EAplay” presentation this past weekend, did anyone have a clue to what this new IP entailed. Anthem was first teased at EAplay, followed on Sunday by a full gameplay demo at the Xbox 2017 E3 brief: wow, what a demo that was! Considering that this has been Bioware’s best kept secret for multiple years, the demo looked respectfully polished and complete. Sure, I am certain that between now and release date quite a few things may change; however, the gameplay felt solid. Staged, yes, but solid.

            The demo begins in a human marketplace, set in a town or city—we aren’t told where or if this is even Earth. A human, from a first-person angle, makes his/her way across the marketplace and is engaged by a man looking worried. A conversation ensues. Moments later, our protagonist enters her (she looks female) exo-suit, teams up with her ally in a “Titan” exo-suit, and launch into the Wilds, the unknowns beyond the City (I know—keep your cool Bungie fans). The following two minutes are a combination of exo-suits flying through a rainforest-looking landscape and engaging in several combat sequences. Anthem, more than any other game this past weekend, was meant to show the true power of the Xbox One X. Our protagonists team up with two other players that seamlessly “drop” into their game sequence and “party up” for the rest of the demo. We are teased with that looks like the entrance to a raid or other coop content. The demo concludes with our protagonist and her team or exo-pilots looking over a cliff and staring at what seems like a storm from beyond this world.  

“Enter the Wilds”

            Bioware, at this early stage, describes Anthem as a “shared-world action-RPG” in which you are your friends are “Freelancers,” those bold enough to leave behind civilization and enter the wild—the unknown. The game promises, and the demo depicts, loot—yes, loot. Content allows parties of up to four players to band together in cooperative (competitive?) content to enjoy with your friends. Your exo-suit is called a “Javelin,” and you can customize this bad-ass ride with the gear you earn and craft throughout the game. What is your mission? To delve into the forgotten and the unknown, battling beasts and marauders along the way, and to defeat the forces plotting to conquer humanity. I guess our protagonists are humans after all.

“Rise to Any Challenge”

            As a Halo and Destiny fan, the opportunity to jump into a super-suit, become a super-soldier, and kick butt is absolutely delicious to me. I can’t explain thoroughly how excited I am for Anthem, even though we have no clue what the final project or gameplay will look like.  Anthem looks sexy, in a way that Destiny 2 didn’t look sexy, or simply hasn’t yet. Anthem looks mature in a way that few games can embrace or truly depict. As I watched the gameplay, I couldn’t help but betray the Halo fan within me and ask myself: “what if Halo looked more like this?”

            Anthem promises to be an interesting ride for the gaming community, regardless of what the final product looks like. It captured our attention early this E3, and we are hungry for more. Is this Bioware’s new Mass Effect? Is this the new path forward? Is this EA’s answer to Activision? I surely don’t know. I am asking too many questions here. I am certain of this: sign me up for all the alphas, betas, and demos, because I am ready to enter the wild. Suit up Freelancers!

For more hype on everything video games, ANTHEM, and Xbox, following me, Q Herrera, at www.twitter.com/UnratedPodcast