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Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: RPG/Action
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: BioWare
Release Date: Feb. 22, 2019


PS4/XOne/PC End Game Preview - 'Anthem'

by Redmond Carolipio on Feb. 1, 2019 @ 8:00 a.m. PST

Anthem is a shared-world action-RPG, where players can delve into a vast world teeming with amazing technology and forgotten treasures.

Pre-order Anthem

When Anthem drops on Feb. 22, players will get a chance to fly around in their own customized armored suits and explore what appears to be a vast, evolving world teeming with all manner of creatures. We recently got a chance to dive into that world for a whole day on the EA campus. 

Our day with Anthem was divided into three parts. First, we took in some early missions to get a feel for the game's narrative along with the Javelins, the armored battle suits that serve as the lynchpin for Anthem's action ethos. The pilots for these suits are called Freelancers, once seen as the heroes of this world and now operating as guns/suits for hire, taking on odd jobs (contracts) from a variety of people.

Then came some time with the content in the demo, where we got to team up with other players to retrieve an important piece of tech for Matthias, an Arcanist who functions as a font of ancient knowledge.

The final part of our session involved a sampling of what the Anthem world would feel like near the end, when you and your fellow fully leveled squadmates get to take on a "legendary" contract entitled "Threat Assessment" along with a couple of "stronghold" missions known as Temple of the Scar and the Tyrant Mine.

Not only do high levels afford you these kinds of missions, but they also give you access to all four variants of the Javelin suits. You start out with one (the Ranger) and then get chances to unlock additional suits as you hit certain level points. I can already imagine the hours of time that will be killed as people customize the loadouts and colorways of each of their suits. I spent a decent chunk of time in the game's freeplay mode testing out the suit varieties: The Ranger is the standard well-balanced soldier; the Colossus is a walking tank packing heavy ordnance; the Interceptor is a fast, melee-combat fighter; and the Storm is basically a sorcerer, hovering and floating around the battlefield, weaponizing the elements.

The later missions keep with game's underlying theme of playing together, and the experience is at its most dynamic when everyone in your four-person party has a different suit. That was the case when I joined three others to tackle "Threat Assessment."

The "legendary" contract earned its tag, plunging us into a hurricane of activity that involved lots and lots of enemies being thrown at us, some very light grab-and-place puzzlework (in the heat of battle), and a pretty satisfying end-boss battle that featured a self-perpetuating shield we had to figure out how to disable. The fight resembled something you might see in a superhero movie, with all of us showing off our relatively fast mastery of Javelin piloting, running and flying around while building up the chances to unload our strongest weaponry. The Colossus let loose with some kind of mega-grenade launcher, the Ranger cut loose with a volley of missiles, the Storm called down some lightning, and the Interceptor cut down distracting enemies with whirling blades and its version of suit-fu hand-to-hand fighting.

These missions basically feel like large-scale dungeon raids, except instead of running from room to room, you're flying across valleys, through waterfalls (to cool down your suit as it's flying) into caverns to take out a bunch of swarming enemy soldiers and turrets. Then you'll traverse tunnels and head into a wide-open cave, where you'll face another horde of monsters until you run into the Big Bad of the mission (in the Tyrant Mine, it's the bug-like Swarm Tyrant, which I remember fighting at E3).

If there's one thing that stuck with me throughout the day of playing Anthem, it was the crispness of the suit controls. Everything worked, from the functionality of flying and fighting to the heads-up display telling me where I was at with weapons and ammo. It's complex-looking mech stuff that's actually really easy and accessible, which means you can play fast and make use of the suit's astounding combat agility in minutes. To think there's going to be a BioWare story laid on top of all this, and you can understand some of what will make Anthem one of EA's most important releases. We'll see on Feb. 22.

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