Although I was curious when I first saw Anthem back in 2017, I wrote it off as just another Destiny clone. It was stunningly beautiful, of course, but I figured that it would serve up the same raid, rinse, wash and repeat gameplay as Bungie’s massive hit.
After spending 30 minutes playing the title at E3 2018, I’m not totally sure that Anthem does enough to differentiate itself from Destiny. However, I’m willing to add it to my growing roster of anticipated games.
Set to launch February 22, 2019, Anthem is the latest in a string of online multiplayer action role-playing shooters. Similar to Destiny, Anthem is set in a world abandoned by an otherworldly being. To cope with their unfinished world, the humans of Anthem created Javelins, powerful exosuits that enhance their capabilities to superhuman levels.
Gamers will become a Freelancer, a member of a group of Javelin pilots protecting humanity from gigantic beasts and hostile forces. You’ll also team up with three other players to conquer the ever-evolving world, collecting loot to upgrade your suit and enhancing your abilities along the way. Sound familiar?
But enough about similarities, let’s talk about what makes Anthem stand out from Destiny or any other of the sci-fi shooters available. It feels incredibly good to move in the game, specifically the flying. Depressing the left analog button on the control pad sends your freelancer into the air and offers some serious mobility.
I never felt like I was fighting to control the pitch and yaw or having to overcorrect my flight path like in other titles, which made shooting off my sci-fi blaster or lobbing a frost grenade into a crowd of giant mutant space bugs effortless.
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Regular combat should be familiar to shooter fans. The right trigger let me shoot my enemies right in their hideous kissers. Hitting the left bumper let me set the trajectory of my grenade and the Y button let me unleash a devastating melee attack with some sort of electrified mace. Pair together the right moves and you get a powerful combo. For instance, after freezing an enemy with a frost grenade, I could hit them with melee attackm which had the potential to shatter them and spread the frost effect to other nearby foes.
At the end of my 30-minute demo, I came face to face with a giant, egg-laying bug and its horde of disgusting babies. As I fought with my team members, I wasn’t thinking about Destiny comparisons. Instead, I was focused on how pretty the world was, landing power moves and making that big bug go splat. Although BioWare and Electronic Arts say Anthem is going to offer in-depth stories, none of that was present in my demo, so fingers crossed on that.
And in case you’re wondering what platform you should use to play Anthem, I can tell you that the game looks incredible on PC. Running in 4K in the Nvidia booth, there wasn’t a pixel out of place. But until February 2019 arrives, we’ll have to tide ourselves over with the upcoming betas.