It just figures. Every once in a long while I try to be nice. Sometimes it’s good to set aside the negativity and criticism and deliberately acknowledge the good parts of a game. So that’s what I did in my column this week when I made the case that Anthem has some really good qualities.
Right after I turned that column in, three things happened:
- Friday: I suddenly lost all interest in the game. I was there on Friday night, ready to settle in for some weekend gaming. Suddenly I realized I no longer cared. Yeah, the robot suits are cool and getting around is fun, but I can’t bear the thought of sitting through all those loading screens so I can slowly chip away at those massive health barsNot to mention the shields, which sometimes magically refill just before you finish the mook off. for an hour. Just the thought of it is wearying.
- Saturday: I read the news that Anthem can crash your console. I’m on PC so it doesn’t apply to me, but it’s still mortifying to have THAT news story sitting right next to my praise for Anthem.
- Sunday: I saw the story about the streamer who got banned from Anthem, for life, for basically opening too many treasure chests. Keep in mind that this is an online-only game. They’ve got this guy’s sixty bucks, and they took away the product they “sold” him. Even if he was “exploiting” the game (he totally wasn’t) that’s still crazy. Exploiting drop rates in a pretend world is nothing compared to, you know, stealing from people in real life. This game doesn’t even have any sort of trading with other players! Even if he had been outright hacking, nothing he did impacted anyone else. The idea of banning someone for this without warning is ludicrous.
So basically, screw this game. When I finished the article I was really hoping Anthem would be allowed to live long enough to reach its full potential. At this point, I’m happy to watch the whole thing burn down and sink into the swamp. The whole “Is EA going to kill BioWare?” question is irrelevant. BioWare has been dead for a couple of years now. At this point we’re just waiting for EA to stop using the corpse to market their shitty Destiny knockoff.
By a strange coincidence, yesterday’s Mass Effect: Andromeda article had the same theme. I went in with the intention of being positive, and was then forced back into negativity by BioWare’s relentless self-sabotage.
EDIT: Apparently, the player was banned for using a glitch that let him use his ultimate ability too often? That’s slightly more understandable than banning him for opening chests, but it’s still pretty outrageous. He didn’t take anything from other players or hurt their progression in any way. At worst, he was ending fights too quickly and denying players the enjoyment of slow-grinding all those enemy health bars away. If there’s an exploit in the game, a better solution is to issue a warning to this player while waiting for the patch that will fix this exploit. Anyway, the perma-ban was changed to to a two-week suspension, which is… better. Sort of. Technically.
EDIT 2: But wait, it’s worse! A Reddit user ran some experiments and found that your trash Level 1 starting weapon is actually the best weapon in the game, able to kill foes even faster than max-level legendary weapons of the same class. Sure, the damage numbers SAY the legendary is doing more damage, but the trash weapon takes fewer shots to kill the same mook. So it’s a double fail. The weapon balance is broken, AND the damage numbers are meaningless.
At the end of my column I concluded that everything in Anthem could be fixed with patches, but now I feel compelled to abandon that claim. Yes, you could probably fix this in a patch, but it points to some major problems with the underlying design. If you just hammer out some numbers to fix this quickly, then you’ll probably wind up breaking some other part of the game. Balancing for long-term grind is hard, and if BioWare whiffed this bad on the first try then it will probably take a few iterations to figure it out. They might need to go for a major overhaul to really fix things, and they don’t have that kind of time.
Whelp, that was a waste of a hundred million bucksA random guess. Probably reasonable for six-year project at a major studio.. What’s next EA? Close the studio, or put another $100M in the ol’ slot machine? Keep trying, idiots. I’m sure another FIFA will pop out eventually. You just gotta sacrifice more money, studios, brands, and franchises.
 Not to mention the shields, which sometimes magically refill just before you finish the mook off.
 A random guess. Probably reasonable for six-year project at a major studio.
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