I am still sick this morning, but I am hoping I will feel better throughout the day. At this point I have taken off a day and a half and in my position that only worked because I had a couple of very light days meeting wise. This is the worst part about being sick as an adult the feel that you need to keep working through it or else things will fall apart. This is complicated by the fact that I have something silly like 400 hours of sick leave banked… but if we take more than 40 hours in a six month period human resources seems to freak out about it. That means in practice that I try and ration my usage just in case something goes horribly south like last January when I got the actual name brand flu.
I am still playing a not insignificant amount of Anthem. At this point the Origin client has me at 33 hours since the spreadsheet launch last Friday. Were it not for a handful of circumstances that got in the way of my gameplay that number probably would have been much higher. Still that is a fair amount of time to log into any game during its first week, and in part a good deal of why is that I have been sitting on the couch trying not to die from horrible feeling. The last two days have allowed me to log more time than I normally would have into a game like this and as such I am further along in the storyline than I probably would be otherwise. I am sorta sensing I am either near the end or near some sort of a bit confrontation… and because of this my natural delaying tactics have kicked in and I seem to be doing anything other than playing the main story quest. I’ve done this at several points now… where I completely farmed down everything else that was available to me other than the main story quest and I am going through that pattern once again.
As far as my loadout of choice goes… you can see what I have equipped at a high level in the above screenshot. Firstly the combo I am leaning heavily on is Inferno Grenade to apply a status and Pulse Blast to detonate said status. Both items deal a lot of damage on their own, but when combined they do a fair job of destroying the Scar bigbois. If you can land the grenade and the pulse blast at medium to close range you can often times two shot them. As far as weapons go my loadout of choice there tends to be either an Auto Rifle or a Light Machine Gun for slot 1 and a Marksman Rifle for slot 2. This gives me a good combination of up close melting power with the ability to pick off targets at range if I so choose. The reason why I go Marksman over Sniper is the fact that if I run out of primary ammo… I can still kill things up close and personal with a Marksman Rifle whereas I really cannot with a Sniper. I am currently suffering a drought of Inferno Grenades and since the Blue Pattern doesn’t seem to exist in the game right now I don’t have a crafting option to make up for it.
Last night a little over 4 gb patch landed and it took forever to download… which at first I thought was Origin being Origin… but in the end I realized that it was my gigabit ethernet card being dumb again. I have this bug that if I ever need to cycle the router… my network card for some reason drops down to 10 meg mode. The only way to get it back to its full speed is to disable the NIC and re-enable it again. Once I went upstairs and took care of that the patch finished in seconds. You can see the full patch notes here, but there are a large round of major tweaks. The first big noticeable one for me personally is the above screen that you now see whenever you hop in your Javelin. It simplifies your gameplay options rather than the weird pick an icon on the map method that previously was employed. It greatly streamlines the process which I appreciate, and definitely makes it easier to get into QuickPlay or Freeplay faster.
As one of the folks loving the game… it feels real bad to see a lot of the free floating sodium that seems to be surrounding this game in the content creator community. I am not entirely certain what they were expecting, but the camp seems to fall along two lines… either the game isn’t as good in the moment to moment gameplay as other titles on the market or that the game doesn’t have the rich storytelling that Bioware is known for. There is a third camp of trolls that just like pointing out bugs in games and being an asshole about it, but I don’t really consider them to have any merit since we live in a magical time where one massive patch like the one that rolled out yesterday can fix a ton of them in a single pass. I feel like the first two however have merit, but I think it is more likely a case of misplaced expectations rather than problems with the actual game itself. What I went into Anthem expecting was something that felt like Mass Effect Multiplayer combined with some story building and a bunch of characters on the same tier as Doctor Chakwas, and that is more or less what I received.
In truth what I got was a game that felt way better than Mass Effect multiplayer, and a cast of characters that I feel are way more engaging than Doctor Chakwas was… that ultimately weave a story about this new world that I am interested in exploring. I never expected the gunplay perfection that is Destiny, but what I gained instead was the ability to move freely and think in all three axis to solve combat problems. I think there is a lot of depth here in what we can do and the builds that we can create, and it also gives them a ton of room to grow the experience over the coming year. They have already stated that they intend on adding new gear and new Javelins, which will keep remixing the experience. The only glaring problem I see right now is the fact that there are only two strongholds at launch, which based on my experiences with FFXIV patch cycles… two is never enough dungeons to keep players from getting bored out of their skulls. With QuickPlay being the equivalent to the FFXIV Roulette system… players are going to have the dungeon they like to play and the dungeon they really hope they don’t get which is always the case.
Tam however was completely right about me and QuickPlay. Right now when I don’t necessarily want to engage in something seriously… I hop into QuikPlay because in general in my experience it tends to put you in towards the end of a mission. I’ve joined literally moments from getting awarded treasure which also feels odd… but more often than not is an easy two blue items and a small bit of experience. Last night I experienced my first time that it dropped me in from the very start of the mission, but even then it felt pretty chill because it wasn’t MY quest completion riding on the line. I knew that if I needed to bail I could exit out at any point, but in practice worked my butt off to make sure that the other player got through the mission. It is so weird how when I join other players I tend to do way better than I do when I am completely solo. I think it might simply be a case of having already experienced the mission and intrinsically knowing where I should and should not go in order to complete it.
Ultimately I am still having a blast playing the game. I suggest you push past the criticism and give the game a shot for yourself on Friday. Right now some of the biggest critics also seem to be some of the biggest supporters of Anthems competitor The Division 2, so I question their motives. Seeing as Division 2 releases almost exactly one month after Anthem… I am wondering if they are concerned that a success for Anthem would pull away players from The Division. In my case at least after playing both Demos… I was way more engaged with the story and interactions in Anthem than Division 2. I personally hope both launches are successful and that they both find their communities. I realize there are a limited number gamers and due to the unrealistic expectations of investors… it turns a game launch into a zero sum experience, but I just wish it didn’t cause so much salt and hyperbole.