Usually, it takes a little time to think about what games came out over the last year and among them, which ones stand out as great, not-so-great, and just downright awful. For us, there really was nothing else that came to mind so quickly than Bioware’s own Anthem.
Published by the villainous EA and developed by the once great Bioware, Anthem was a game that boasted endless opportunity, expansion, and fun. A game that was meant to be an experience unlike any other (and it sort of was, only in not the way anyone wanted), but instead it fell flat on its face in nearly every way.
Anthem launched with an overwhelming amount of disappointment with lousy loot drops, a major lack of content, overwhelming server issues, and an insanely high amount of game-breaking bugs. Here are some of the more embarrassing ones.
Typically, if a game launches with bugs that absolutely devastate the player experience, a video game developer will go back and fix them and improve over time. This is something that dev Hello Games did with No Man’s Sky, a title that launched with massive criticism that eventually turned around and became a cult favorite with a very lively and active community to this very day. However, Bioware never really came in and cleaned up.
But let’s back up even further. There is a lot to unpack here.
Back in 2017, leading into the E3 of that year, the game was not even being referred to as ‘Anthem’ but rather ‘Beyond’. Now its true many games have codenames and internal phrases to avoid leaking a title before its ready, however, we now know that there was a massive shake-up with Bioware and
Beyond Anthem that lead to massive scraps in features and functions of the game that resulted in a name change. In fact, no one really knew why it got changed in the first place, as Beyond alluded to how you played the game. As in, going beyond, and so forth. Anthem doesn’t really make sense nor does it have anything relative to do with the game. And when the game launched, you could feel aspects of these decisions almost immediately in the core of the gameplay.
After less than a month into release, Anthem’s player base dwindled to staggeringly low numbers and the online forums were nothing but a dumpster fire of anger, frustration, and memes of Bioware and the community managers. The Anthem Subreddit in particular, within the first couple months of launch, maintained the largest online community presence that was full of players who felt duped that not only did the game feel incomplete, that it often felt unplayable due to errors in loading into the game, atrocious matchmaking, and a seemingly abandoned presence from the Bioware team on what was to be done about the game.
Eventually, the Anthem team showed up to perform a lackluster live stream that looked like it was put together by a bunch of elementary schoolers.
During the live stream, the Bioware staff avoided answering any questions from the chat with the intent of not addressing any issues that plagued the game. And there were still many, many issues at the time of the stream.
They refused to even acknowledge one major issue that impacted the very small community of active players, which was loot drops. If you aren’t going to talk about, let alone fix the bugs, just talk about an increase to the drop rates, right? To make matters worse, the on-screen presence of the staff seemed very unusual. Some viewers even pointed out that they appeared to be intoxicated or even drunk on stream. While we can’t confirm if that part is true, the dull and boring stream was enough to have us concerned.
During the stream, one Bioware staff member, an alleged developer, became visibly angry and stated the stream was not going to talk about loot drops or anything significant, only the level design. Their frustration towards the community about why they were not asking about the level design became a major meme and proved that once again, a big company that wanted your money would remain tone-deaf in the face of harsh criticism.
At the end of the stream, the Bioware staff opened the chest at the end of the GM1 mission and it dropped all purples and one MW ember, which left the staff awkwardly silent as they knew they had just tossed gasoline onto the growing fire of fury that occupied the community.
After that, things went downhill. Massive amounts of “new content” were delayed, scrapped, re-tooled to be far less than promised, and Bioware went silent. Their presence on the forums became completely absent. The content that ended up delayed? Much of it was never released and likely won’t be as much of the updates were removed from the Anthem roadmap completely. Bioware then stated that a seasonal model would become their priority to release content. Which, as you can guess, made things even worse.
The story of the game was filled with countless plotholes, something that likely happened during the same time as the title was changed to Anthem from Beyond. Whatever the reason, it was clear the game went through some major plot and story rewrites.
A few months after release, Anthem Lead Producer Ben Irving had the briefest interview of all time at E3 2019, the game’s only presence at the largest game convention of the year.
The interview lasted a mere two minutes where Irving mentions their major Cataclysm event, something that also infuriated players as it too was an incredible letdown. The initial teasers and gameplay footage of Cataclysm showed off storms and major world-changing events. What actually made it into the game was some dim lighting and light wind. You can check out the rest of the interview yourself below, courtesy of GamersPrey.
To make matters worse, there were no apologies from Bioware on the state of the release of the game, something that many paid a premium price for, especially those who shelled out well over $60 for collector editions.
Nothing is more disappointing than a game that overpromises and under-delivers. Bioware’s Anthem is 2019’s worst of the worst.
The gameplay was promising but repetitive. There was very little variety in enemies, and no real loot to keep players coming back. The missions were repetitive, extremely lacking in diversity, and there are only so many times you can be hit by invisible objects that damage you before you rage quit.
Silence was not the way to go for Bioware, for whatever reason they chose to do it. If the live stream was any indication, it seems as though the faces of the game lacked in professionalism and didn’t know how to handle a community that felt ripped off for paying for a game that was not playable half the time, and the other half there was very little to do. A looter shooter needs to feel rewarding, and most often Anthem felt frustrating at best.
Touted as a ‘Destiny killer’ early on, it is clear that Bioware did not understand a lot of the mistakes that Bungie made (and are still making), and that they handled their own issues, and there were many, far more poorly than the dev team behind Destiny.
The environments for the game didn’t seem open enough for being able to fly around Iron-Man style. There were barriers that interfered with what should be a seamless flight experience, a feature that was supposed to carry the game to new heights, so to speak. However, with as often as your Javelin mech-suit overheated, it barely managed to get you to your destination without needing to cool off.
If you have heard of Anthem, the chances are that you have heard a lot of negative things. The majority of players gave up on the game within the first month of release due to all the game-breaking bugs, lack of loot, no end-game, and poor management by the devs and community managers. At the time of this writing, there are only 89 viewers of Anthem Twitch worldwide. If nothing else, that should really tell you a thing or two about how Anthem is doing in the first 10 months of existence as a looter shooter seasonal GAAS title.
Fallout 76 was a close second and would have made number one if not for all the effort to improve the games and add features to it. Bethesda still made a boatload of mistakes while going through the repair process, and probably still has a lot of bugs and issues to address, but they are actively trying and are very vocal about making it a much better game. Unlike Bioware and EA with Anthem, where it seems like this game was such a massively catastrophic failure that for them, it seems like a more financially reasonable decision to just abandon it altogether. Which is what it feels like they have chosen to do.
Things seem to be decent over at Bioware for the time, though. There are some active Reddit users over on the sub, and there has been more communication lately. However, it seems far too late at this point. We had hoped that Anthem would be the most engaging title of the year, but it turned out that it was quite the opposite. The game died before it even took off, and that was enough to turn us and many others away from Anthem for good. It is because of this that Anthem is our Worst Game of the Year.