Games => Gaming General => Topic started by: maxbeedo on February 22, 2019, 02:57:46 AM

Title: Anthem
Post by: maxbeedo on February 22, 2019, 02:57:46 AM
Bioware's Open-World Co-op FPS finally launched a few hours ago for most people.  Some got it a week ago for early access through Origin.  I picked it up for PS4 and played about 3 hours tonight.  So far, pretty fun overall.  Had a few technical issues at the start for about 2 minutes with it not connecting, but that's to be expected within 5 minutes of a launch.  In 3 hours I had 1 crash-logout and 1 weird loading screen glitch.  The crash logout happened "in town", so nothing lost there.  The glitch happened during a mission, but thankfully when I closed the game and relaunched it, it recognized that I had "an existing session", and put me right back in with the same people I was co-oping with, and I ended up with almost the same XP overall, so barely an inconvenience.  Within a few missions I've unlocked the ability to do "freeplay" which is basically just exploring the world and picking up loot and materials, and I've talked to 10 or so NPCs in the main hub town.  The town is a separate instance for each player so they can talk to NPCs how they want, though there's also a meetup area for people to show off their mechs similar to the Gathering Hub in Monster Hunter World.  Matchmaking so far has been seamless and relatively quick.

I'm currently playing a Colossus, the big boy.  He doesn't get any regenerating shields, but he has a fairly large amount of health, carries bigger guns, and his melee is generally much stronger.  He can pull out a huge physical shield to block attacks as well as charge-bulldoze over enemies with it.  After the first mission you choose 1 javelin to unlock but the others are apparently unlocked at lvl 8, 16 and 26 (level cap is 30).  I'm at lvl 6 after 4 missions.

Based on everything I've seen this will be one of the most divisive games this year.  Pretty much every outlet is ready to crap all over it, mainly because of EA, the microtransaction model, the early access stuff, etc.  It had a ton of bugs during the public demo last month and still had quite a few last week when it "launched not launched", but most were addressed in a patch yesterday.  It's also not a typical Bioware game (other than the MP portions of ME3/DA:I/ME:A), and several reviewers I've seen are ready to butcher it simply because it's not exactly the same as Bioware's best stuff in the past.  But pretty much everyone said that "the core gameplay is extremely good", which is my biggest focus anyway, so I'll see how I like it after a week or so.
Title: Re: Anthem
Post by: Sssith on February 22, 2019, 10:57:13 AM
Overall I am pretty sad about this game as I would like to play it but have no interest in playing in MP.

I was actually in an alpha testing of the game and I really enjoyed what I saw.  At that point the flying around was a bit jerky and I hope, imagine, that they smoothed it out.  It played like DA:I while being able to fly around in cool suits of armor.  I did join one MP game while I was in Alpha and it immediately reinforced why I don't like to play with others.  The squad mates where all racing to the objective while I was trying to explore around.

I think the game has a lot of potential.  We shall see.
Title: Re: Anthem
Post by: Lego on February 22, 2019, 12:19:24 PM
I think the world didn't need another Destiny-type shooter MMO with microtransactions. Those resources could have been put towards Dragon Age or Mass Effect. Dissapointed.
Title: Re: Anthem
Post by: Pixie on February 22, 2019, 05:12:16 PM
I think the world didn't need another Destiny-type shooter MMO with microtransactions. Those resources could have been put towards Dragon Age or Mass Effect. Dissapointed.

This was EA looking at the bleeding, battered, sobbing body of Bioware and deciding to jump up and down on its ribs a few times before tossing the corpse on the pile behind the building.


RIP Bioware
Title: Re: Anthem
Post by: maxbeedo on February 26, 2019, 02:57:14 PM
So I've finished the game, at level cap, and completed almost all missions.  Here are some pros and cons:

1. Flight is amazing.  Every review brings this up, and it's true.
2. Most characters are actually pretty interesting, and some I think reach typical Bioware levels of quality.  I counted at least 28 different NPCs you can have multiple conversations with, some of which have nothing to do with the main story but just have interesting things to say. 
3. The world is beautiful.  It feels gigantic at first, but it's not all that big when you consider you have an Iron Man suit and can fly through most of it.  Most areas feel pretty unique, from a sunken city in a lake, to a large rusted city (felt somewhat Borderlands-ish), to a collection of mushroom-topped trees.  I had a ton of fun searching each area for landmarks for the exploration trophies.
4. XP is shared amongst the party, with each person getting slightly different XP based on medals they earn.  This keeps the focus on helping each other out instead of soloing everything.  Loot is not shared but each openable item/chest pops out loot for each person that only they can see, so no one can steal from each other.
5. Using combos is super satisfying, as it was in ME3/DA:I/ME:A.
6. Shield-charging as a Colossus is still fun, and makes reviving teammates and roaming the world in Freeplay much easier.

1. I dealt with relatively few issues playing the main game, but in post-game I've run into all sorts of bugs and crashes.  I don't think anyone ever got disconnected from me when people joined my game, but so far I'm 4 out of 18 in actually being able to complete a mission that I join others for.  Sometimes it'll just kick me from the server, sometimes it'll say "The server shut down" which is somewhat alarming, and sometimes I'll just never load in and have to close the game.
2. Besides the one Stronghold that was playable in the early demo, the others are completely bugged and unplayable.  No enemies spawn, no doors open, you basically just walk around and have to quit.  Tried them 3 times now.
3. The maps are terrible.  In town, it is constantly bugged to display that certain people have a conversation ready when they actually don't.  In the world, you can't set waymarkers or ping anything for your teammates, or really interact with the map in any way.
4. Overall lack of items, suits, cosmetics, and enemy types.  The in-game stores don't have anything except a few cosmetics to sell, all usable gear has to be found.  I don't personally care that much about making my suit look pretty, but the availability is alarming because a developer stream explicitly showed like 8 different models of helm/arms/legs/chest/etc. for each suit that aren't there now, and the same for emotes.  Basically it looks like the game was complete, but EA ordered Bioware to remove 80% of the options so they could sell them individually.  Weapon-wise, the legendary/masterwork weapons that have unique effects that would nicely spice up the relatively same-y weapons are so rare and late-coming that people get bored before then.  I've found 2 masterworks, both of the same gun, just different power levels.
5. The E3 trailer basically lied in several ways.  It showed Striders, which are basically the mobile launch walkers you start missions from, moving and getting destroyed in the world, but you never actually see one move in-game at any time.  It also showed a player getting a masterwork weapon and seeing what it was in the middle of the mission, which doesn't happen either, as it doesn't roll what items you get until after finishing a mission (you just know the rarity before then).
6. Every gun and piece of gear can have ANY ability modifier on them.  Basically Uncommons get 1, Rares get 2, Epics get 3, Masterworks get 4, but since they aren't limited in what they can spawn as, it's easily possible to get a modifier that does nothing, like a Flamethrower that gets +physical damage. 

So most of the criticism of the game is correct.  I do think a lot of the negativity has been bandwagon EA haters, or people who were ready to kill this game for any faults simply because it wasn't the game they wanted, since basically every "game as a service" game has had major problems on release and this one is getting piled on far more than others in the past.  Personally I'd put it around a 7 out of 10 based on my experience as a whole, but if I forced myself to do a late-game grind for epic loot or the valor challenges (which involves a huge checklist of things you have to do 25+ times each), it'd probably drop much lower, although over time as they fix things and add in new content (which is on their roadmap), it might get better too.
Title: Re: Anthem
Post by: Sssith on February 26, 2019, 04:08:54 PM
So if you are going to play wait until they sort things out.

Also, how going is this game from a single player POV.  I have no real interest in joining others.
Title: Re: Anthem
Post by: Lego on February 26, 2019, 04:19:46 PM
Yeah, the reviews are definitely not kind.
Title: Re: Anthem
Post by: maxbeedo on February 26, 2019, 04:51:38 PM
Also, how going is this game from a single player POV.  I have no real interest in joining others.

Everything in town is single-player only, it's an instance just for you.  Most of the story missions aren't terribly hard so they can be done solo if played correctly, though some of the side stuff and especially the strongholds require a group of 4.  It does have that Borderlands-ish problem where playing in multiplayer means you can infinitely revive each other, but when playing alone you can't ever go down or it's a restart, so the challenge is at least a magnitude higher (although I've played the entire game on Hard, there is also Normal and Easy). Freeplay in the world where you aren't doing a mission "can't be private", meaning you're put into a game of up to 3 other people, but there's absolutely no obligation to fly around with them or interact with them, since there's only 4 people in a decently sized map.  "Dying" in some missions or in freeplay has basically no penalty, you just respawn elsewhere (missions will clearly label their "Respawn Restricted" zones).  I spent 6-7 hours roaming around on the opposite side of the map looking for lore bits, chests and landmarks, and never felt the need to interact with anyone else.  If a "world event" pops up, you're enticed to help other players out since the chest you get after finishing pops loot for everyone, but you don't have to, and you're free to just fly on by them if you don't feel like fighting (or complete the entire thing yourself, which I did a dozen times or so).  Out of the 200 people or so I've played with, 0 have said anything using voice chat, though this is on PS4.
Title: Re: Anthem
Post by: mn4nu on February 27, 2019, 07:05:29 AM
Nice review Max!  Very helpful to our community.
Title: Re: Anthem
Post by: narsica on February 27, 2019, 08:37:41 PM
I don't really disagree with Max's summary, aside from the fact that I can't relate to the bugs - I've been dropped from the server once in about 20 hours of play, and had issues with match-making once. I haven't had any other bugs, at all. It's been smooth as butter for me.

My list of Things Anthem Rocks at:
- Flight and combat are absolutely stellar - feels even better than ME:A, which had the best combat of any Bioware game, ever. The game encourages you to be mobile, and use flight to your advantage. Combos are awesome, and there is a wide variety of gear/guns to suit however you'd like to play.
- The world is absolutely gorgeous. There are all kinds of nooks and crannies to explore, and the game is constantly taking my breath away. It's also three dimensional, in that it feels like they took the verticality of the game seriously.  Fort Tarsis is also pretty great, with lots of attention to detail.
- Characters are mostly pretty great, with some incredible voice acting. They have cut dialogue options down to two, but there are some really memorable interactions.
- The game encourages you to play with other people, without any of the drama. This is one of the biggest positives for me - loot and ammo/health pickups are player specific, and they've worked hard at eliminating options for griefing. No PvP to worry about, you can easily drop in to a mission with randoms and not have to worry about it. Even when you're playing with people, it almost still feels like single player (except you're all killing mobs). And they have managed to somehow balance level mismatches - you can drop into a mission with someone twice your level, and it still feels like you're contributing equally.
- You're not stuck having to level up the different javelins. You unlock them at different levels, and you have a higher chance of finding loot that works with the javelin you're currently using, but you can switch into another suit and play style at any point without starting from scratch. I played my first 10 hours with the Ranger, then switched to the Storm. I'll probably switch again to the Interceptor.
- The customization of the suits is absolutely bonkers. Aside from the difficulty in getting new cosmetic armor pieces, every suit has 7 or 8 different components that you can change both the material as well as the cover, in addition to other cosmetic armor pieces, in addition to vinyls, in addition to wear states. Aside from the default suit designs, I haven't seen the same Javelin twice.
- The world is absolutely steeped in lore.
- While there are microtransactions, they are solely cosmetic and the devs have said repeatedly that you can earn every item in game (as well as earning coin to purchase items in game).

Things that Anthem could Improve:
- Maps. There isn't the ability to set waypoints, so you're constantly having to check the map if you're trying to get somewhere.
- Missions. They are pretty formulaic - Fly here, fight some creatures. Fly there, fight enemies while gathering things to silence a relic. Fly over there to fight a mini-boss.
- Story. For a Bioware game, it's pretty light on story. That being said, they've said that they intend to offer the game as a "live service" and have updates mapped out. I think I recall one dev saying on twitter that from now until the end of March, it's basically the intro. We'll have to see whether that's true or not.
- Loading screens. Holy fuck, even on an SSD the loading screens take forever.

tl;dr - Anthem isn't the "Bob Dylan" of video games, not by a long stretch. But it's a fun multiplayer loot shooter, and Bioware didn't pretend it was anything different.

Protip - if you have an interest in trying Anthem, sign up for Origin basic ($5 bucks a month). It will give you 10 hours of playtime, and a 10% discount if you decide to buy it. It's not as good as a free demo, but it's not a ton of money to drop to try it out, and if you do buy it, you wind up paying the same amount as if you you had just bought the game in the first place.
Title: Re: Anthem
Post by: maxbeedo on February 27, 2019, 11:36:35 PM
The buggy-ness didn't really set in until I started doing a lot of Freeplay and Stronghold stuff in the endgame, at which point over half of all my expeditions are unplayable.  It's a fairly competent game until then.  There are tons and tons of "dead missions" where nothing spawns, the waypoints and dialogue never trigger, and people keep getting matched up to join it as fast as people try to leave.  It wouldn't be so bad if you could explore the world with no encounters happening, but it also locks you to the area you start in and teleports you back if you try to leave, and none of the usual lootables spawn either (I've had this happen over 25 times now).  This usually happens during Contracts, which are randomly generated it seems and the game isn't very good about making sure they flow properly.

Been farming a bit for Masterwork weapons on Grandmaster 1 difficulty.  Got 8 different ones so far, but some are certainly more common than others as I've found some 4+ times already. Currently at 80% achievements, many of which <2% of players have.
Title: Re: Anthem
Post by: narsica on February 28, 2019, 08:02:12 PM
Fair enough. I haven't done a whole lot of endgame yet, as I just recently finished the main story but haven't even hit 30 yet.

Too bad you're on PS4. Haven't found anyone to play with on PC, other than randoms!
Title: Re: Anthem
Post by: maxbeedo on March 01, 2019, 03:16:44 AM
Yeah, I've just been playing with randoms, no one on my friends list has tried it, so I'm not getting any of that "alliance" bonus.

After doing a lot of achievement farming, I went back to doing regular contracts and quickplay to try to get some masterworks.  Got pretty lucky and got 5 different new masterworks as well as 2 Legendary components, and boy are they strong.  Masterwork components give about 4x as much health/shields as Epics (the next lower tier), and Legendaries give about 5x as much.  The 2 Legendaries I got were the ones that give me 20% armor whenever I get a melee kill (which I do often), and whenever I get a 5x multi-kill with my ultimate it gives "3300% ultimate charge."  I haven't tested how much that is exactly, but it sounds like a lot, possibly allowing me to chain the ultimate over and over, which is nice because it grants full invincibility during it.  Either way, I'm happy to just have a ton more health/shields, because Grandmaster 1 is a fairly significant boost in difficulty, not too dissimilar from D2 Hell vs. Nightmare, so I basically just found my first few "elite uniques" to make things go much smoother.

At least from what I've heard, Grandmaster 2 and 3 are not worth playing at all, because Grandmaster 1 already lets everything in the game drop and all GM2 and 3 do is massively boost enemy health for a very small boost in drop chance, so everything takes twice as long for like 5% better loot.
Title: Re: Anthem
Post by: narsica on March 01, 2019, 12:40:05 PM
Nice! I'm still just getting epic drops, nothing higher. Might have to be level 30?

I've heard the same about Grandmaster 1 being the best for farming Legendary items, but wonder if it will change now that they're adjusting drop rates.
Title: Re: Anthem
Post by: maxbeedo on March 01, 2019, 02:50:09 PM
I found my first Masterwork at level 20 or so (on Hard), and found at least one on Normal and several others on Hard between 25-30, though only a few of them are available on Hard or below, the rest require Grandmaster (can't get any components or gear I think, just weapons).  The patch yesterday was supposed to prevent commons and uncommons from dropping at all once you hit level 30, but that hasn't been true unfortunately.  I believe the "Support: +X% Luck" affix is meant to be basically Magic Find in this game, so I had a few of those equipped when I got my Legendaries last night. 
Title: Re: Anthem
Post by: maxbeedo on March 05, 2019, 12:36:28 AM
I'm basically done with the game now I think.  There are some collection-based challenges left but they're pretty pointless to do for the rewards they give and they'd take several hundred hours.  I actually completed the Challenge of Valor which involves doing 100 World Events, 25 Strongholds, 25 Contracts and 25 Missions, but all it gives is some money and some lore from the Bard, and presents a new Challenge that involves killing 2500 of each enemy faction plus a bunch of Elites/Legendaries, and it doesn't count any I've already killed up to that point.  Not really worth it.  I have a Power 494 Colossus now with at least a Masterwork in every slot (except Support, which has no Masterworks), and have every achievement except for the collection one (which I don't think anyone has completed legitimately) and the platinum.  I think 10 or so of the trophies currently are at <2% achieved, so I've clearly played this game more than almost anyone, but there's nothing left for me to do but roam the world hoping to find collectables I haven't already found after 40+ hours of freeplay. 

News came out about the game bricking peoples' PS4s, but that didn't happen to me (on a PS4 Slim) in 100+ hours.
Title: Re: Anthem
Post by: Sssith on March 05, 2019, 11:21:55 AM
Well it seems you got a lot of play in.  The idea of it bricking a PS4 is pretty insane.  I have never heard of a game doing that before.