‘Anthem’ highlights latest EA failure


Whether you’re a gamer or not, a common name that continuously pops up in conversation is Electronic Arts, a gaming company most famous for franchises such as FIFA and Battlefield. While many of EA’s earlier titles have achieved varying levels of success and given us a plethora of memorable games in the process, in recent years the company has become notorious for its glitchy, rushed games as well as their outrageous, borderline-predatory business practices regarding microtransactions. So, with their negative reputation as well recent failures like “Star Wars Battlefront II” still on people’s minds, EA’s demo for the upcoming game “Anthem” had a lot to prove and even more to make up for.

Aiming for a Feb. 22 release at $60 a copy, EA decided to give players a chance to see what they might be paying for through a small demo of the game, freely available to anyone for the first three days of February. Being a major fan of the mecha genre and weaponized exo-suits, I was really looking forward to “Anthem.” The concept of donning a robotic suit and venturing out into an unknown terrain had the fanboy inside me giddy with anticipation for the demo’s release.

While the game has a lot of potential, I’m sorry to say that if this is EA’s idea of apologizing for recent failures then it feels more like a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. Ever since its announcement, players have been skeptical that “Anthem” would fall prey to many of EA’s dirty business tactics that have made them so notorious, many of which sadly bold true for the loot-based shooter.

Upon loading up the demo, one of the first complaints I had was the fact that the game felt wildly unfinished. From the layout of the world to the enemies you fight, “Anthem” is plagued by all kinds of technical issues that all stem from a lack of proper development time. EA clearly rushed the developers into putting this out at a set date and it’s suffered greatly from that lack of extra time and care.

The game’s world feels utterly lifeless, with your character flying around what appears to be a big empty valley for most of the missions, only encountering a few real enemies when outside your objective zones. Whenever I tried to steer away and just freely explore, I realized that there was just nothing there to look for.

When the entire purpose of these Iron Men is to venture out into an unknown world, it’s hard to have fun when there’s really nothing to look for.

Collectibles and Easter eggs seem to be a mere afterthought in favor of typical health, ammo and XP crystals you pick up from dead enemies. What makes this rushed feeling even more apparent is the fact that the game’s enemies are plagued with glitches of their own. Ranging from a lack of mobility to simply disappearing in the middle of fights at times, they feel more like useless cannon fodder than any semblance of a real threat.

In fact, the game feels so rushed that I couldn’t even find an option to change the game’s screen size to fit my TV, leaving half the buttons on the menu cut off the screen. Finally, one of my biggest complaints about the demo revolves around the lack of variety among the “Javelin” classes, the four types of soldiers clad in robotic exo-suits that you play as in the game. “Anthem” prided itself on saying that every class plays differently and offers a variety of different abilities and experiences, all of which balance each other out and incentivize players to give each class a shot instead of just sticking to their preferred one.

Going in, I was quite disappointed in how poorly certain classes played by comparison. Certain classes like the Interceptor and the Storm did a great job of making their movements, attacks and abilities unique enough to offer players different kinds of gameplay depending on their preference. However, the same could not be said for the Ranger and Titan classes, which felt so similar to the point that I could only tell them apart by their special moves and appearances.

The problem here is this gives players a lack of incentive to try these different classes out, limiting their gameplay variety instead of enhancing it. Putting all this aside, there is also the matter of how much EA’s charging people for the game: $60 is a lot of money for a game, and with so many options out there, a game needs to reach a certain level of quality to justify that pricing and “Anthem” doesn’t feel like a $60 game.

It’s repetitive, rushed and doesn’t do nearly enough to achieve its full potential. Add to the fact that EA is undoubtedly going to plague the game with all sorts of microtransactions and it becomes quite clear that they are far from ready to try something new, let alone make amends with their consumer base. Take my advice and don’t buy the game, at least not yet.

While I definitely had some fun flying around in an exo-suit, “Anthem” is too unfinished and too overpriced to warrant the level of attention and hype surrounding it. This may have just been a demo, but with the launch just a couple weeks away, this doesn’t bode well for EA. If you want to try the game, save your money and wait. Because from what I’ve seen, players aren’t missing much.