aaa developers, anthem, anthem game, curse of osiris, destiny 2, developers, forsaken, game dev, game devs, looter shooter, MMO, multiplayer, online multiplayer, online shooter, shooter, the division, the division 2
Yesterday, I picked up The Division 2. Haven’t played it yet at the time of this writing, but I had some extra money to light up and I’ve been looking at it from the sidelines for a little while as something different to try out. Coincidentally, I had picked up Anthem just after it released and played that a fair bit, too, but also completely stopped.
What makes me think that The Division 2 will stay in my gaming rotation when Anthem fell away? There are a number of ideas, but chief among them is that even though I really do enjoy Anthem’s gameplay, I also really can’t bring myself to fire up a game when the developers are making clownshoe decisions. I have managed to be convinced to fall out of love with playing in a giant, pink, stompy robot suit, which isn’t a sentence I expected to type.
The saga of Anthem is one of a development studio that just doesn’t seem to know how to make this kind of game happen. A game where you’re primarily meant to shoot baddies and get shiny seems on paper to be easy to manage — make sure the shooting feels great and make sure that the looting is satisfying. However, the latter point seems to be a regular stumbling block for BioWare, which has continued to make me feel exhausted with rationalizing my love of Anthem’s gameplay to myself. I haven’t even gotten to the point of progression where these mistakes will matter much either, but hearing about how the higher end loot chase falls flat does not exactly motivate me to push forward with the story.
I recall a number of other MMOs where the developers just kept on falling on their own sword, making their games extremely tough to love and express that love. WildStar immediately springs to mind; a game that had all of the color and character and setting beats that I was completely enamored with but followed a design path that was tone-deaf at best. Gigantic was another; probably the only MOBA I ever found entertainment in, hamstrung by what appears to be goofy decisions at the top which saw the game’s release delayed past the point where the MOBA bubble burst.
I should be able to ignore this goofiness, honestly. I was mostly able to do it with WildStar, and I was just so taken with Mozu that I tried to focus on learning her to get better at Gigantic. In spite of those extremely barbed and effective hooks, though, I just slowly gave up. And I’m doing the same thing with Anthem, too. And that makes me sad.
I don’t want The Division 2 to beat Anthem, or Anthem to beat The Division 2. I want both of these games to do well. To push one another and give me the comfortable “problem” of deciding which game to boot up first. Instead, perceptibly, Anthem’s playerbase is growing increasingly thin while confidence in The Division 2 rises.
That’s the biggest motivator for me, actually; the fact that friends and acquaintances are dropping Anthem aside. These sorts of games are just better with other people to team up with, so why should I make myself ignore the flailings of the developers to play by myself?
I’m not tolling the complete death knell of Anthem, in spite of these feelings. I don’t know how close the point of EA’s Sword of Damocles is to BioWare, but I hope it’s not near because I would love to see this team pick itself back up.
It happened with Destiny 2, after all. By the time Curse of Osiris landed, there seemed to be no righting of the ship for Bungie. However, the devs took the feedback (vitriolic as it likely was) and used the helpful bits and the granted amount of time to bounce back. I desperately hope that Anthem’s devs are afforded the same opportunity, because dammit if rumbling around in the Pink Cadillac isn’t great fun.
Incidentally, the Forsaken expansion was easily some of the most fun I had playing the game and I should probably try to take a peek back some time soon.
I speak these desires in to the ether in the blind hope that they’ll come true, but for now it’s extremely hard to feel confident in anything Anthem is doing, especially thanks to the death by a thousand cuts of these seemingly dumb errors. I contend that I don’t know anything about game design and balance, but it’s still frustrating that the looter part of a looter shooter is being handled with this level of ineptitude.
Please, Anthem. Pull it together. I wanna be a big pink robot again.