Today at Microsoft's #E3 presentation, we finally saw gameplay of BioWare's #Anthem to follow up on yesterday's teaser trailer. The rumored comparisons to #Destiny and The Division seem to have been dead-on accurate.
Anthem being an online, cooperative shooter places it in direct competition with Destiny. With the announcement Destiny 2 will be included on Blizzard's Battle.net launcher on PC, directly exposing it to Blizzard's monolithic #Overwatch audience, BioWare might have one heck of a fight in its future. Particularly so given BioWare is known for its stellar RPGs, not so much its action titles.
Still, #MassEffect has been trending towards action gameplay ever since its first iteration, and the Mass Effect team is the team behind Anthem. For whatever criticisms Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 might have received, the quality of its gunplay was never in question.
The Anthem gameplay includes BioWare's hallmark of creating rad worlds, too. The open world is lush and gorgeous, but even in the opening shots of the gameplay trailer, Anthem digs its hooks in.
Depending on your personal definition of cyberpunk, the dusty bazaar might not qualify, but it's still compelling: a clearly high-tech society (with an affinity for goggles) clustered outdoors in an old school market bazaar of tents and tarps.
In its opening moments, this market scene drops hints about the world of Anthem. They are (or were) an advanced civilization, given their technology. The mood and general upkeep (or lack thereof) of their surroundings suggests their society has, for whatever reason, begun to regress. You can imagine they had towering skyscrapers of dazzling neon once upon a time, but it's all gone now.
As the market scene proceeds, you catch a glimpse of an enormous quadruped robot in the background. Again, it simultaneously evokes an advanced civilization, and a regression of that civilization. It's a monumental testament to engineering, but it's dusty and dingy, fallen into disrepair.
Through the environment alone, BioWare evokes a post-apocalyptic scenario. The scene drives us to wonder what happened to cause this situation. If there's anything we learned from #HorizonZeroDawn, it's this: everyone loves fighting giant robots, especially in an apocalypse.
We're All Iron Man Now - Exosuits For All
When finally the trailer progresses to gameplay, we get to see what it's all about: players have access to a variety of customizable "exosuits." In other words, Anthem is The Unofficial Post-Apoc Iron Man Game. Marvel, eat your heart out.
The trailer called out two exosuits in particular:
- Ranger Jack-of-all-Trades, shown to be quick and nimble
- Colossus Big, beefy, and tanky
Players navigate the terrain with ease through the use of jetpacks. In the gameplay preview, players were able to transition seamlessly between moving on the ground, through the air, and even underwater. When it came time for combat, we saw both traditional gunplay with rifles and shotguns, as well as devastating missile salvos and mortar fire.
Seriously. You're Iron Man. What more do you need to know?
Can It Top Destiny?
There really are compelling hooks here, but it still remains to be seen whether or not Anthem will be able to compete with Destiny. At this point, if you slapped the Destiny logo on Anthem, nobody would be the wiser. While the Anthem gameplay looks great, nothing is differentiating these two titles yet other than an added dash of Attack on Titan. BioWare's hallmark of strong narrative is nowhere to be seen, nor is there any sign of aliens to kiss.
Anthem could knock Destiny off of its throne, but to have a fighting chance, BioWare needs to show us what makes these games different. Does it include a BioWare-quality narrative? Is there more to Anthem than the gameplay loop of shooting stuff to get loot so you can shoot more stuff? Hopefully, we'll find out sooner rather than later.