Global Chat: The big question mark of Anthem

    
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In we go.

What’s the biggest gaming unknown for you going into 2019? For MMO blogger Cary at Virtual Bastion, it’s whether or not BioWare is going to stick the landing with Anthem. I think that’s a question a lot of us have right now.

“I think I’m in the ‘just cautious’ boat,” Cary writes. “Its latest trailers have revealed more about the people in the game, and this is what really has me rethinking my stance. Despite gameplay (and larger) missteps of the past, BioWare knows storytelling.”

We’ve got plenty of thought-provoking MMO essays to share with you this week, including picking your first online RPG, out-leveling content in LOTRO, impressions of FFXIV’s latest patch, and more!

Magen Tales: Choosing a first-time MMO

“One day, as I was browsing some blogs, her eye caught a Final Fantasy XIV screenshot and asked about the game. I did my best to explain about the FF lore without spoilers and she said that would be cool to try. The only negative I find in FFXIV is the mandatory dungeons to progress with the main story.”

Superior Realities: ESO — Buy this car to drive to work to pay for this car

“This is a strange experience. Questing is generally my focus in any MMO. Exploring worlds and stories is the entire reason I play video games. And yet in ESO I find I enjoy it most when I play it as a sandbox game — wandering, gathering, crafting, thieving, decorating, and generally doing anything but the story.”

Contains Moderate Peril: Out-leveling content in LOTRO

“In the original version of the game, the structured progression from zone to zone meant that slayer, exploration and race deeds would slowly be completed as you cleared all local quest related content. The XP increase that has ensued in the intervening decade now means that a player will move on to a new region before completing these secondary activities.”

GamingSF: A variety of landscapes in SWTOR

“As I’ve stated before Ossus has some beautiful landscape surrounding the action, I love  some mountain-views. But, beyond that I was struck by just how varied the zones in the game are.”

Aywren Sojourner: First impressions of FFXIV Patch 4.5

“As you can see above, the highlight of the patch is that the little unicorn mount you get as a level 30 Conjurer can now fly… and they’ve added sparkles to it! Well… okay… it’s not really the highlight. But a lot of folks were excited about the primal ponies finally being able to fly. Seeing that I don’t own any, but I do own the unicorn, I dusted it off, and it’s now become one of my favorite flying mounts.”

JVT Workshop: Neverwinter’s Heart of Fire

“In short, this module is utterly garbage and the next one better have the quality of Ravenloft x 100 if Cryptic wants to keep Neverwinter Online alive. At least, alive for me. One of the worst modules EVER.”

Every day there are tons of terrific, insightful, and unusual articles posted across the MMO gaming blogosphere — and every day, Justin reads as many as he can. Global Chat is a sampling of noteworthy essays, rants, and guides from the past few weeks of MMO discourse.

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Danny Smith

The issue with Anthem is a compound one. Nobody trusts EA. Nobody. Bioware hasn’t made a stellar game since at best Dragon Age Origins ten years ago and Anthem removed from that still looks painfully unoriginal. Like someone was told “describe destiny or warframe but you must replace all the original terms with something else”. World designed by madlibs is something that should have died out with all the wrath of the lich king clone mmo’s and even if you want to risk your time and money on a pretty unreliable combo of publisher and studio theres still the ‘i have hundreds of hours in warframe, why would i divert that time to something else thats probably going to be at best not as good?’

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Crowe

Nice! Yeah, I think “Bioware ‘knew’ storytelling” would be a better tagline for them.

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Tiresias

For those of you on the fence about Anthem, I have a suggestion for you:

Sign up for a month of Origin Access Premium.

It’s a $15 subscription that gets you access to a MASSIVE catalog of EA games — the FULL games — for a month. It also gives you full EARLY access to what is essentially the collector’s edition of Anthem for the duration of the sub.

If you play Anthem and hate it, you can spend the rest of the month playing any number of amazing games in the catalog, including a significant number of indie titles alongside AAA and AA games.

I actually consider Origin Access to be one of the best deals in gaming, alongside Humble Monthly (where you actually get to KEEP the games even if you cancel your sub). This is especially true if you, like me, tend to play a game for a few months then move on, and don’t particularly care to play nothing but one game exclusively every day for weeks or months at a time.

I especially like the fact that I get to sample a bunch of games guilt-free without feeling forced to finish them. I’ve played a few days of games like Mr. Shifty, Jotun, Shadow Tactics, and many others that I enjoyed long enough to be glad I played them but not so much that I wanted to play them to the end.

Anyway, I’d check it out. If you decide you like Anthem enough to buy it but you don’t want to keep paying the $15 monthly, you get a 10% discount on the purchase price, recouping $6 of that $15; $9 is well worth the risk mitigation in my opinion.

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Armsbend

It’s a good idea but I’ll wait a month or two for player reviews/streams to find out. I wouldn’t risk giving EA on a jack shit nickel until they’ve earned it. Those shitbirds aren’t worth $15 right now.

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Anstalt

im the same way, I’ve been trying to boycott EA for about 6 years now as literally every single game I’ve played from EA has been a disappointment. Not bad games, just shallow and too short. I’ll just start getting into a game, only to find it is finished.

Took me years to figure out that EA was the common link between all the disappointing games, but since figuring it out it’s made me a lot happier.

There is only one exception for me: the Skate franchise. Admittedly, each game was slightly disappointing and over too quickly, but I love to core game loop (i.e. skating) too much to care.

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Mr.McSleaz
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Mr.McSleaz

“Sign up for a month of Origin Access Premium”

I’ll get more enjoyment from lighting my $15 on fire & watching it burn than I’ll get from giving it to EA.

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MolleaFauss

Re Anthem, my issue is more how much EA is planning to get off every player. Recent business practices aren’t so enticing.

Xijit
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Xijit

For all the shit EA gets for its microtransactions, I have never once seen them list anything that holds a candle to how badly the typical F2P MMO will abuse players and lock content behind astronomical paywalls.

I’m expecting $15 to $25 for skins & $1 to $5 for paintjob / bling items.

Probably will also see $40 to $60 “packages” with a set of new skins & a handful of paintjobs released at the same time that they ship a new content update.

I am anticipating something like a mix of BDO’s flat rate cash shop & Fortnight’s rotating selection, but we will see how it goes.

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Anstalt

Multiplayer + Story = failure

I’m of the opinion that telling stories in a computer game is a bad idea. Your actions as a player ALWAYS contradict the story being told, creating a disconnect that invalidates the story and leaves it feeling contrived and pointless.

This issue is amplified when you try to tell a story in a multiplayer game. Not only are your own actions contradicting the story, but so do the actions of everyone else around you.

Evidence of this can be seen in every single theme park MMO ever. The more they focus on story, the more that game trends towards being a single player game, and the more the playerbase narrows to being primarily solo players.

Bioware / EA have already been through this mistake with SW:TOR, which tanked really hard when it tried to create an MMO built on story. It doesn’t work.

So, Anthem……..

I still don’t know who the target audience is supposed to be! Is it a genuine multiplayer game, built for duration and community? No, its a story-focused game. Is is for Bioware’s traditional RPG fans? Well, no, too much twitch combat and multiplayer features. Is it for PvPers? Well, no, despite being multiplayer, story is what is being pushed.

Given that, my prediction is that Anthem will have good initial sales (due to excessive marketing by EA and good graphics, it would take a lot to not get good sales) but that the game will quickly tank because its not a well made game. There isn’t a clear vision for the game, nor a clear target market, which will only end up with most players being disappointed.

Plus, you know, its EA: the game is guaranteed to lack depth (thus decreasing longevity) and have irritating monetisation.

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Connor

I always get a hearty chuckle at sandbox games like Grand Theft Auto 4 where you can go on drunken killing sprees, running people over, and then get into a story mode cutscene where Niko waxes poetic about wanting to avoid violence.

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rafael12104

So, a few more thoughts on Anthem.

First putting aside my bias one way or the other, what we have seen looks good. Sure, it doesn’t have the jaw-dropping combat that modern Doom or BDO had when they were first shown, but it certainly is fluid and dynamic.

Add the flight and underwater mechanics, and it should be quite fun. And I think it is significant that Bioware is showing us as much as they have prior to Beta. Bioware until recently has been very guarded in showing anything until shortly before launch. It bodes well, I think. Or it could be desperation, Heh.

Next, the real question is how is the story integrated with these combat modules? Does it live up the old Bioware standards? And this wall they have created between missions and story, is it seamless or does it take away from the overall immersion?

Last. I’ve been paying to Xijit’s posts on Anthem. As all testing is under NDA nothing specific jumps out. BUT the fact that Xijit, one of our own, has very positive things to say about the game is a bonus. Always good to hear from some actually participating in the early testing because, to be honest, Bioware no longer has the credibility it once had.

Net, net, I’m optimistic. But massaged clips or snippets of gameplay aren’t the sole reason why.

And yet, even in trying to maintain an objective point of view, I can’t deny the debacle that was Andromeda. It’s not just that the game was disappointing on a technical level; it is primarily all of the mismanagement and corporate issues that contributed to its mediocrity. Were those issues resolved? Or are we getting the last gasp from Bioware as another EA casualty?

We will see.

Xijit
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Xijit

Tips hat.

Clearly I am happy with what I have seen, buy also I think everyone should try it out for themselves. And if you don’t like it, then you don’t like it … But with how EA is willing to let players put their hands on it befote buying: at least give it a shot.

While I will never claim that EA is remotely close to perfect, I am happy that EA has pulled its head out of its ass on how they have been handling Anthem’s pre-launch. The cardinal rule of writing is “show, not tell” and EA has really stepped up to the plate on that with how they have been showing off real world gameplay in the developer streams instead of saturating the market with CGI sizzle reels.

Holding an old school Alpha (that really was an alpha) to stress tesst the networking & get gameplay feedback while it was still in development, followed by the upcoming Closed Beta & then Holding an Open Beta after that, shows (at least IMO) that they have faith in the game and are willing to stand behind their work.

It is has been a long time since I have seen one of the big three take a step back from all the virial marketing and just let the gameplay talk for itself.

If nothing else, I think that alone needs to be recognized.

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Etharion Ethie

Speaking as someone who hasn’t especially liked anything from Bioware since Mass Effect 2, and who knows a person with contacts still working at Bioware, I have little hope for Anthem. We’ll see what happens, but I’ll be doing my usual ‘Let it simmer for a minimum of one month post release to see how bad the smoke and fire is’ before I do anything with it. That particular wait and see method of mine has saved hundreds, if not thousands of dollars for me! It’s amazing how initial reviews are almost always glowing, and by the time a month has passed… the truth has begun to come out and the shiny gloss has worn off.

Having said all that? I like the basic conceit. I like power armour as a concept and the idea seems fun. Heavens know I have a Dungeons and Dragons character that’s basically this same concept (utilizing a homebrew Artificer class in 5th edition). I suspect that one way or another, Anthem is going to be a turning point for Bioware. With its founders gone and the brand firmly in EA’s court nowadays, I expect that this will be the nail in the coffin or their redemption from the bonds of the past. Time will tell…

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Armsbend

Official reviews these days aren’t good for anything more than a laugh or two. I barely even hear of them mentioned.

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Etharion Ethie

No arguments there. I don’t know anyone personally who places stock in such nonsense as official reviews; we all know they’re pretty much universally paid off by the companies who published the game in the first place, I suspect.

For my part, I pay more attention to general consensus among such sources as reddit (yes, I know), MOP, and other such similar places. Independent and all that. No one review ever sways things, it’s more about the overall shape of things in whatever places you prefer to get that kind of information!

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Armsbend

I do the same with a Youtube rant or two.

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Armsbend

“Despite gameplay (and larger) missteps of the past, BioWare knows storytelling.”

All the more reason it is so curious that the writing and voice acting is so bottom of the barrel bad – from what we’ve seen so far.

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Real

Wasn’t sold on Anthem until I tried the Alpha myself. Preordered immediately after.

The open demo will be a key indication of rising consumer confidence in the game, honestly. Bioware’s back at it with this game, and with continuous patches and content, this’ll be a game to keep burning in your backlog between big single player releases.

Xijit
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Xijit

I did the same: the dialogue flows better in game & how the gameplay feels in your hands is way better than what it looks like in the trailers.