Most of you reading this know about BioWare’s Anthem. You know, the game that was supposed to be all we ever wanted from a looter-shooter, a pinnacle of BioWare’s legacy…and a game that turned into a giant meme? Yeah, that Anthem. Sure, I know it, but that game is dead right? Nobody is playing it and everybody kind of gave up on it? Well, apparently not!
There was a vague blog post coming from Kotaku a few months ago that speculated BioWare admitting that Anthem had problems and it didn’t deliver the experience developers had in mind. BioWare’s response stated that the developers didn’t give up on presenting us the game they wanted to make in the first place and are working hard on fixing all the wrongs to make them right.
As I’ve said previously, we want to be transparent with you that we know more work needs to be done to make Anthem better. We also want to ensure we’re backing up our words with a great game you can play. So I don’t have any news today to share about the long-term changes we are bringing to Anthem. What I can say is that we will continue to engage with you, our community, through PTS when we can show you what is coming.
– Chad Robertson, BioWare Head of Live Service
Names like “Anthem 2.0” and “Anthem Next” were mentioned and…well, that was it. Nothing more substantial than “we’re working on it” was actually said followed by a long silence. That is until now!
Breaking the silent treatment
On 10th of February another blog post popped up after months of, basically, no information about the future of Anthem. If you haven’t read it by now and have any interest in the game at all, I suggest you take a few minutes and read it. If you don’t feel like doing that, I’ll give you the TL;DR–They released an unfinished game and will have to work hard to fix it. While they’re working on it, you won’t get any new content for Anthem and they hope you will like the game once it’s fixed to give it another chance.
What they wrote isn’t much honestly, but at least it’s more official. They are admitting their mistakes and are aware that, well let’s be honest here, that almost the entire game needs to change. They mentioned progression, endgame, loot, performance and some new carrots & sticks. Just that, huh? Easy-peasy.
Thanks for the blog, I guess?
One problem here is – we don’t really have any more information than what we had a few months ago. We got some sporadic communication from the developers with nothing specific. There isn’t any time frame for when we might see the reworked game, and also no concrete information about how the “Anthem 2.0” or “Anthem Next” might be released. Will it be a completely new game? Will it be a major update of redemption? Will they pull a No Man’s Sky on us? And will there be anybody that cares at that point? All this leaves is a lot of room for speculation. Luckily, we like to speculate. So, me and my friend Q did a bit of speculating of our own about the future of Anthem. Here is a bit of our conversation we had on Sundog Gaming Discord channel (which you should definitely join).
The Banter: Discord Edition
S: Judging by the tone of this blog, the way I read it is this: Anthem is dead. We’re working on fixing things so that Anthem 2 will be better when we launch it. There will be no new content for current version of Anthem. Somewhere down the line they will launch a new game. While I do enjoy the gameplay, I don’t really see the point of investing time and effort in a game that is very likely to get scrapped down the line, as I don’t think any kind of progression will carry over to the new Anthem. Even if it did, it wouldn’t make much difference. I might play the game on occasion as I do enjoy it, but I will definitely not invest much time in it, due to the tone of this last blog post.
Q: Bioware will more than likely launch it on top of the current game rather than release a completely new one. If they release a completely new one they will lose what player base they have now because no one is going to shell out the money for a risk. Smarter move is to keep going with production, keep doing the quality of life changes because they have a huge sandbox to play with while the player base is small, and drop a well-balanced hit. Just follow what Apex Legends did when their player base dropped super low and they faced a lot of the same issues with content. They didn’t reinvent the wheel and release a whole new game. The developers worked on the issues, slow dripped while the base was low for dedicated players, and boom the players are coming back because they tested.
S: Yes, I was thinking the same, but this line made me doubt that. “So we recognize that there’s still more fundamental work to be done to bring out the full potential of the experience, and it will require a more substantial reinvention than an update or expansion” This, for me, means that they will not update the game to the newer version and that they will re-release it as a new game. It may be necessary to do that due to limitations of the engine or something else. It is also possible that they will risk alienating the current player base (which is at this point barely existing) and that they will try to get rid of the resentment players had with original game by launching a completely new product.
They could also use it as marketing sales point like – we knew we disappointed you with Anthem but we know that there is much potential there and it’s a project we all love and poured our hearts into it. So we listened to you and we made Anthem 2 which is everything you asked and what Anthem should’ve been in the first place. Also, we are offering 50% discount to owners of the original Anthem and hope you will join us on this new adventure which we worked so tirelessly on with the help and input of you, our loyal fans!
Also, I should write PR articles for a living. I’m rocking it!
Q: They won’t release it as a new game because it is a done deal that no one will purchase it. The line you highlighted is more admission that they released the game in a completely unfinished state without any testing in some weird race thinking they could take down Bungie. The level of in-depth reporting on mental health of the team and exit of high level team members shows that they’re committed to just fixing what they currently have. Wiping the slate clean on top of a good foundation is how they’ll proceed because the engine isn’t the problem. Overworking, rushing, and dropping an unfinished game is what did them in.
Bioware has a chance to not publish a structured roadmap, drop this blog post to give the dedicate player base some hope, and silently work on producing what they want with the product they currently have. It is like Bungie right now and how they have their hands are tied. Anthem released on multiple platforms with massive amount of players that bought it. I‘m not going to purchase another game or force my base to do that when I can just update it, give them a leg up for being dedicated, and move on to the future. It wouldn’t be in their best interest to make a complete new game that supports older systems that have limitations vs PC. It would take Bioware another 2 – 4 years to make a new game based on what they have for the consoles coming out this year.
I hope I’m wrong and a new game drops because that would benefit someone. Business standpoint, developer mindset, and how long they’ve already been working on changes…..a completely new game isn’t likely. Bioware doesn’t have the main power, good PR, or money like they did before Anthem. Majority of their teams will be split now on Dragon Age and whatever EA is pushing them to do with rebooting Mass Effect.
S: I still think they will risk the release of the new game and offer old players some sort of benefit when purchasing new game. One of reasons for that is – it’s EA we’re talking about, not just Bioware. Also they would desperately need a fresh financial injection in Anthem budget since development lasts way longer than it was predicted and sales have flopped. I don’t see why they wouldn’t risk the new game approach by just arguing we needed to rework many things, too much to just patch the original game, but we fixed all that needed fixing. I don’t really think that they would develop a completely new game. I think they would keep the engine and open world models and that they would work on things people wanted fixed – loot, endgame, progression, but that they would argue that changes made were so substantial that they justify the Anthem 2 title and new price. But underneath it would still be the same game just with major reworks and maybe a few new zones, just to give people new content and stuff.
Q: Loot boxes
S: Well, definitely loot boxes. Hopefully with better loot in the newer version. It IS what the people wanted apparently and EA will definitely make sure that we get them. Maybe we would get a deal like – previous Anthem owners get 20 loot boxes free with purchase of Anthem 2 or something. Time will tell. I honestly hope I am in the wrong and that I would just load up Anthem one day into 2.0 version. We will just have to wait and see for a while, because I don’t think the new version will launch before holiday season of 2020, judging by the latest blog post.
Where do we go from here?
And there you have it. We got a glimmer of hope that, one day, we will get to experience Anthem in all its glory and that we will have a fun time doing it. Personally, I am a fan of BioWare and I really do like the IP and I see the potential Anthem has. I found myself enjoying playing the game, but it does have some cracks in it. I don’t know about you, but I am definitely willing to give Anthem another chance once the next version launches. Until then there are other looter-shooter games that will mercilessly eat away at my free time.