Review: Anthem

  • Version Played: Xbox Series S

I decided to check out Anthem to see how it functions as a singleplayer game. Unfortunately, it’s one of those games that still treats you as “online”, even if you’re playing on your own: this includes the removal of incredibly important gaming features such as the “pause” function, no suspend/resume features as well as sending you back to the menu if you are idle for too long (bringing in my grocery delivery during a safe spot during the final boss was a nightmare). Games like this really need to look at The Avengers – which manages to have these semi-MMO like features and co-op, but is still entirely functional offline, even letting you pause and suspend the game.

With that said, the core gameplay of Anthem is really good fun. Flying around with the jetpack is satisfying, and the combat is hugely enjoyable, especially stringing together different attacks and activating your jetpack to rush an enemy to smash it with a massive hammer. 

However, there really isn’t a lot of variety in the missions. For the vast majority of the time you fly to an area, kill or enemies, fly to an area, kill more. Occasionally there will be a simple puzzle in your path where you have to push buttons in the right order, but that’s really it. It’s fun, but there could have been more – there isn’t even a chase scene, making the flight itself feel underutilised. 

I found the characters in the game to be very likeable, and the background lore is surprisingly compelling. I want to know more about these people and the world they live in. They drop some hints towards the background of some of the factions you fight, but you never find out the full details.

Playing it as a single-player game, it works for the most part (annoyingly, you have to set your missions to private every time you boot the game). However, there’s one section of the game where this is impossible: to gain entrance to some tombs to discover challenges, you need to complete challenges in the open world.

The open world must be played in multiplayer. Luckily, you never actually have to interact with the other players, so it makes it an odd choice. You do have to find a creative solution to one challenge: reviving other players. Thankfully, there are some NPCs near the starting area and letting these get injured and reviving them count.

The most troublesome challenge was involving completing “world events” – sections of the map that spawn lots of enemies for you to kill. I had no issue completing these on my own, but they’re just so broken. Some failed to register me as taking part (so it wouldn’t count me taking part) and any that took place in the underground sections of the map flat out broke – my character would move around similar to if you were being laggy and my health constantly drained. This happened every time I attempted it, and only there, so it must be the game and not my connection.

Anthem really is a shame. There’s some incredibly fun mechanics and a very interesting lore hidden behind some dull multiplayer looter shooter mechanics. Even in its current state, I think with a few changes and some offline support, it could be a decent singleplayer game. If it had been planned that way from the start, it could have been something great.

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