Despite my own admonishment yesterday morning I allowed myself to get a little hyped about the possibility of finally getting to cut loose in Anthem and make progress again. I should not have done this, because once again… Anthem is a buggy mess following the 1.0.4 update. This starts early when you are greeted with an empty news screen, which isn’t the end of the world but was sort of a harbinger of events to come. The patch included a bunch of quality of life improvements, some of which exist like the summary screen you are seeing above showing all of my gear and sort of giving us the beginnings of what I hope will ultimately become a stats page. Additionally there is no load time to get into the Forge and you can access it anywhere within Fort Tarsis just by bringing up the escape menu. However the whole being able to see what World Events are active thing does not appear to be in the game, because in none of the four or five freeplay sessions I joined last night could I actually see any events up and active.
One of the big tweaks that was supposed to be coming was an increase in the general quantity of good loot that we would be getting from doing stuff… namely anything that rewarded a chest or from the bosses at the end of Strongholds. This appears to have completely broken and now those Stronghold bosses are no longer rewarding the guaranteed Masterwork at all, and instead just seem to give you a fist full of purples and blues. I spent a significant amount of time on Hard mode running content with Neph last night and something seems to be broken there as well. Previously when running with friends on a sub Grandmaster difficulty I would see a lot of those “Starter” Masterworks dropping. In spite of doing three Strongholds and a could of contracts I saw zero Masterworks which was previously unheard of… just doing anything on Hard seemed to reward me a handful of those starter weapons. I did manage to get a single Legendary but it didn’t actually drop anywhere that I could see it and instead was the harbinger of another bug… apparently players can pick up your loot and then stuff just randomly shows up in your inventory. I mean I am thankful in this case and in truth I think loot should work more like Destiny in that if it drops it automatically gets tossed into your inventory without having to pick up anything. Sidenote… I took this photo because if you notice three characters are the same base model standing side by side which is a little uncanny valley.
The other big thing that was touted with this patch was the introduction of Elysian Chests at the end of Stronghold missions. These were supposed to sweeten the pot and make us want to start running strongholds again with a touted inventory of a couple hundred cosmetic items available for us to find. When they were announcing them they stated that there was also a chance of crafting materials and gave the example of 30 Masterwork Embers… which seemed like a reasonable trade for a cosmetic item. Getting 30 Chimeric Alloy on the other hand is not worthy of giving up a cosmetic and just feels like shit given that this is the most basic generic level 1 crafting material that you can gather up spending five minutes running around in freeplay. It feels bad wasting your daily key on something like this, and there are thread floating about showing that four chests were opened and all four gave low tier crafting materials.
I did however manage to get a Vinyl later in the night, but that just spawned another bug with the patch. When you get something cosmetic from an Elysian Chest, it won’t show up in your inventory until you have logged out of the game and logged back in. Even then… I am not sure if Overcast is bugged or what but it doesn’t seem to appear on my Lancer at all so not sure what it is actually adding but it certainly looks nothing like that icon… which I am assuming is a generic icon for all cosmetic rewards given that it shows a bunch of materials in the background. Additionally this patch was supposed to allow us to stay in flight longer… but it feels like it has had the opposite effect given that I no longer have the longevity in air that I did before and seemingly diving no longer lowers heat as much as it did. Basically… we got 1.0.4 and already desperately need 1.0.5 to fix the shit that was broken again this time.
The problem for me is that I am ultimately losing hope that they will manage to pull their shit together. What I used to view as being scrappy and responsive to issues… I am just now seeing as a very sloppy development methodology that apparently involves little to no quality assurance. The fact that loot was bugged at the end of Strongholds… should never have made it into production on a patch that was touted as fixing Strongholds. It took exactly one time running a Stronghold to notice “hey… we are not getting our guaranteed loot”. The fact that loot is still as stingy as it is now is a complete sin, given that was the beat being pounded fervently like a drum from day one… that Diablo only works if the loot flows like water allowing you to account for the completely useless items that you get and shard. What we are left with is signs that Bioware has nothing up their sleeve and are just trying to eek out for as long with the limited an repetitive content that is available, and rationing of Legendary and Masterwork drops is seemingly their master plan in trying to make this content last until they can create more.
I had fun playing with Neph but there was a slight pang of bitterness as I didn’t even see starter Masterworks as was regularly the case when dropping down to the lower tiers before. Right now I am contemplating starting a brand new Pilot just so I can have a set of Javelins that match the level ranges of my friend still down in the lower rungs, hoping to maybe be able to get them up in level enough to run the higher stuff with me eventually. Tam, Ash, Kodra, Waren and Shiana have all moved back to Warframe which is apparently having a great streak of content to engage with… and Thalen, Grace and Neph are all way down in the level range and fighting against the fact that there is limited queuing available sub Grandmaster 1. Then there is the problem that if you want to solo this content you will end up getting effectively half of the experience as if you were grouping… because the Alliance bonus matters that much. Neph for example played the game entirely solo other than a bit of running around and doing World Quests and as a result finished the main story and all of the side content at level 15… whereas I was something closer to 22 from never not grouping.
I am getting frustrated at this point, and super close to just giving up. I want Anthem to be a great game and in some aspects it is… and in other aspects the Bioware team does not seem to understand what sort of game they want it to be. After seeing the second failed patch in a row that seemingly caused more havoc than it cured… I am starting to fear that we will have to wait for whatever this games “Taken King” or “Patch 1.8” ends up being, when they finally grasp how to make it fun and rewarding. The gameplay feels fun… but the rewards feel like a mockery of what they should be.