After playing almost 60 hours of Anthem I’m here to give my review on it. Is it worth your time? Is it a safe day one buy? Here’s what I think of it!
You can’t call Anthem an ugly game. This is possibly the best looking game that’s ever released on the Frostbite engine and it’s by the far the best looking game Bioware has ever released. The Javelins look amazing, the world is filled with life and details in the environment backed by excellent lighting, sound effects, music, and ambiance. It’s a great looking game. The NPCs look great and are animated really well too. There’s no face controversy in this game and I think Bioware did one hell of a job here. Anthem is beautiful and is probably the best looking game to release this year so far. Shooting an enemy with a frost grenade fills my screen with ice that looks so real I think I could reach in my screen and touch it in real life. Flying over bodies of water actually shows the water below reacting to the high powered metal suit flying above it. Fire effects look great, the water looks good, hell, everything in this game looks fantastic. I can’t think of a single thing in this game that I thought looked bad. It’s a phenomenal game to look at and if your PC is good enough you’ll be treated to one of the best looking games to release this generation.
Anthem is like Warframe on steroids. I don’t think I’ve ever played a game more fun than this one. The gameplay is amazing. Flying adds so much versatility to the game that I don’t think I can play without it. The controls are excellent. Flying feels good and it’s super easy to dodge mid-flight, ground pound an enemy, take off and shoot another one in the face while activating your ultimate ability at the same time. Unlike Destiny, this game has more than one special ability to use. You get 4 of them. 3 of them can be used like regular MMO abilities while your special can only be used once you fill up a bar. Each javelin has a different special ability and they’re all awesome. I don’t think about Destiny when I’m playing Anthem. They’re completely different games. Honestly, this game reminds me more of Warframe. Each game has heavy loading screens, instanced missions, an open zone for exploration, flight, melee combat (it’s better in Warframe though), and sexy ass Javelins (or Warframes) with different abilities and appearances to choose from. Both games play similarly, but I give the edge to Anthem because it does everything, except melee combat, better. The controls are so smooth and everything has that oomph that I look for in my shooting games. Guns feel, and sound, great, special abilities actually feel like they’re special, and it’s just fun. This game is just fun.
I really like the soundtrack here. It’s your standard Bioware flare. Meaning it’s really fucking good. I enjoyed everything from the opening song that plays as soon as I booted the game up to the kickass tunes that play when I’m battling hordes of oversized bugs that look like they were pulled right out of a Fallout game. The guns sound amazing, the special effects sound amazing, flying sounds amazing, going underwater sounds… well… you know. This is some top-notch stuff here and maybe it’s because I was playing with headphones, but I knew where enemies were without seeing them because I heard them and reacted to them just by using my ears. Going underwater isn’t the best experience I’ve ever had because the controls are super clunky and it’s hard to navigate, but it sounded good. Everything sounded faded out and distorted as it does in real life when you dive in deep water. I would love to have some underwater combat in the future and have all the bullets sound like they’re underwater while managing my breath meter. It would be awesome.
There are 4 javelins to choose from. After the prologue, you get to choose your first javelin. Once you level up you’ll get access to another and eventually, you’ll have all four. My favorite javelin is the one you start the game off in. The Ranger. It’s versatile and has access to so many neat abilities and guns that it’s hard not to love. And I love its ultimate ability too. There’s also the Storm, Colossus, and Interceptor javelins. The Storm is basically the mage, the Colossus is the tank, and the Interceptor is the rogue dps of the group. Every class is good. If you want survivability you’ll want the colossus. If you want to wipe out groups of enemies with little effort you’ll want the storm and if you want to do some fancy melee combos that hit HARD you’ll want the Interceptor.
There are a lot of different opinions on the PC port of this game. From what I’ve noticed is people with low-end rigs are struggling to run the game and calling the port crap because they won’t admit that they need to upgrade their PCs. Anthem’s performance is fine. It’s better than fine, actually. It’s really good. And I didn’t just test the performance of this game on one laptop. I tested it on 3 and all 3 of them are different brands and have different specs. Here are my new laptop’s specs and what I averaged in Anthem –
HP Omen – Nvidia GTX 1060 (6GB), I7-8750H 2.20 GHz (12 CPUs), 16 GB Ram. My performance was, mostly, solid all around. I got over 60 frames walking around the fort and under it during flight, firefights, etc. It did dip into the lower 50s and even 40s on really intense moments, but that only occurred when I updated my driver and I’ve heard that Nvidia’s latest drivers really did a number on Anthem’s performance. I ran this game with everything (except AA) on high. AA (antialiasing) was on ultra and my performance was smooth throughout. I was running the game in 1080p and I did bump everything up to ultra at one point, but the differences in the textures compared to the fps that I lost was barely noticeable so I kept everything on high settings.
Asus Rog (my old baby) – Nvidia GTX 980m, 24 GB Ram, I7- 4720HQ 2.60GGz (8 CPUs). I’ve done some great gaming on my old Asus. It’s still my favorite laptop because of the build quality when compared to the Omen. Anthem ran like a dream on this thing. In some instances, it ran better on my Rog than it did on my Omen, but it was rare. During combat, my fps on the Rog would drop to the mid-30s. The 980m is still a very relevant gaming card and I think with some more patches to improve performance it could get even better. Most of the time my fps was stuck around 51 which is good when you consider I ran it on the exact same settings that I did on my Omen.
Dell Inspiron – GTX 960m, 8 GB Ram i7-6700HQ 2.60 GHz. This laptop is the weakest of the three and it can run Anthem on all of the lowest settings in 1080p and higher settings in 900p. In 900p I can bump the settings up to medium (while leaving some, like vegetation) and get 60 fps. Playing in 900p is like playing the base Xbox One. I was impressed that this laptop could even run the game at all let alone get 60 fps in it.
My overall opinion on Anthem’s PC port is that it’s a really good port with solid performances on every laptop that I tested it on. Even the old Dell Inspiron had good numbers and I walked away really impressed with this game in that area.
I should mention that pics have the fps in the screenshot, but take those with a grain of salt. The 30 fps pics are what I got when using only battery power on my Omen. It nearly doubled that, as seen in the 80 fps pic, when I plugged the charger in. I don’t like to overcharge my laptops because that kills the battery and the battery in the Omen is already pretty shit so…
I don’t think Bioware is ever going to be Mass Effect Trilogy kinds of good with their stories anymore and I’m okay with that. That doesn’t make this story bad. I enjoyed the story and I really enjoyed getting to know some of the characters. I like that Bioware went without the dialogue wheel and instead focused on telling a story. There’s no branching decisions or consequences to your actions. This way, they can tell the story they want and not write themselves into a corner as they did in Mass Effect 3. I enjoyed the story, but it’s not without fault. For starters, the main villain is disappointing and that’s sad when you consider some of the great villains this company has given us in the past. The big bad guy was rarely shown in the story and was only vocally spoken by other people. I never cared about him, but the second villain that was introduced is all kinds of interesting, but I can’t say more because that would be going into spoiler territory. What kind of Bioware game would this be if it didn’t end on a major cliffhanger right? The story is good, some of the NPCs are very interesting and have great dialogue while others are forgettable. I liked walking around Fort Tarsus and getting to know everyone. It felt like a real Bioware game and I can honestly recommend this game as a solo shooter/RPG over a multiplayer looter/shooter because of this.
I mentioned that the dialogue wheel is gone. It is. There isn’t branching dialogue options, but you do get two of them. That’s right. I said two of them. And from what I can tell your dialogue choices don’t matter at all. I think Bioware just needed a reason for the NPCs to talk to the main character. I’m also not a big fan of the first person perspective at all. Why let me create my character if I never get to see him?
You Can’t Find Armor Customization:
In order to make your javelin look awesome, you’ll need to buy the customization items from merchants with gold. The problem is that there’s a very limited selection of items to choose from and none of them look that good. The items in the cash shop look decent and that’s what I ended up buying with my 60k in gold I had on me, but I wish there was more. I want a huge variety of cosmetics to choose from and not just 2 or 3 items. This is more of a nitpick than anything.
I was doing the exact same thing in Anthem 50 hours in that I was doing the first 2. Going from point A to point B doing the exact same type of missions over and over again. There’s very poor mission variety and that’s a shame because this game is really fun to play. It’s in better shape than The Division, Destiny, and even Warframe was when they first launched, but it’s still a long way from the game it has the potential to be. Spice things up some and add in some more interesting content. How about a horde mode so we can just fight forever and enjoy the fantastic gameplay you’ve come up with? Horde mode is actually a heavily requested feature on Reddit right now. I wouldn’t mind if Bioware took a page from Warframe and added in some modes similar to that game.
It’s Really Buggy:
I’m writing this review before the big day one patch that Bioware has planned (it just finished downloading on my PC) so take this with a grain of salt. My first 40 hours was pretty smooth. Once I made it to the end of the game that’s when shit went crazy. I spawned without a head, couldn’t progress to the final boss fight 3 times because the stage wouldn’t load the next area, and was kicked from this game numerous times. I was even kicked after I had just beat the boss of the game and was watching the end game cutscene. None of what I did matter and that really pissed me off because that meant I had to fight the boss of the game again… I want to enjoy this game and I do… when it works, but I shouldn’t have to wait until shit works to enjoy something I paid my hard earned cash on.
You know I love myself a good character creator. You won’t get that here. Do you know what you get? You get to choose your face. That’s it. I’m not kidding it’s that simple of a character creator. What’s the point right? And what is it with Bioware and their hatred of beards? I really wanted a nice bearded character and left utterly disappointed :).
I’ve lowered my score of Anthem to a 7. Why? Because the update and end game content, which I didn’t play a lot of at the time of reviewing this game, is lacking. You get the same three missions to do and some randomly generated contracts. The contracts are fun to me, but there’s just not a lot here right now and that’s a shame when you consider that Bioware worked for 6 years to give us a game that obviously needed more time to bake. Anthem needed at least 6 more months of development and it was rushed out just like Mass Effect: Andromeda was. Anthem is a good game and I will NOT drop the score any lower than a 7 because I think that would be unfair to a game that I have almost 70 hours of play time in. I just don’t see myself playing much more than that because of the lack of content right now. Anthem isn’t the only game in this genre that launched with a weak end game. The Division and both Destiny games did, but that doesn’t mean Anthem is going to get a free pass because it should have learned from those games failures and surpassed them not make the exact same mistakes that Ubisoft and Bungie made with their games.
The update really affected my performance in this game with two different laptops. My new rig can’t even play this game at stable fps anymore and my wife’s laptop can’t run the game at all. She gets below 20 fps in Fort Tarsis and above 30 in actual combat. I had to let her borrow my Rog to play the game and it actually runs better on my old Rog than it does on my Omen. I didn’t update my graphics driver on that laptop and it could be an Nvidia issue. With the performance issues that we’re having and lack of content in the game right now I had no choice but to come here and lower my score by a single point.
Anthem is my most anticipated game of the year and in some ways, it did not disappoint. The gameplay is incredible, it looks really good, feels good, controls good, and has some of the best sound work I've ever heard in a game ever, but it is buggy, has a lackluster story by Bioware standards (even though I did enjoy it), and is a very repetitive game. I don't mind the repetitiveness of this game. I love grinding for loot, killing bad guys, and playing in a group of people while doing all of the end game stuff. The end game is where the meat of this game is and in its current state, it's already better than similar games that launched in this genre. This feels like a Bioware game, but I don't think I can recommend it to Bioware fans right now. Anthem is a really good game that's held back by some flaws and questionable design choices, but if Bioware is serious about supporting this game it will only continue to get better.