Shocking to no one I spent the majority of my weekend playing Anthem again. It was a bizarre weekend for those of us who spent both Friday night and Saturday playing because some things happened. Firstly the the 1.0.3 patch that we were expecting to land on the 12th launched a bit early on the 9th around 7 am, meaning when I woke up for the day I had a significant patch to download. However Friday night… they did the thing where they accidentally set the loot drops too high and we were getting Masterworks left and right. Once again the community thought this was intentional… because ultimately it is what we have been clamoring for all this time. However with the launch of the patch it was rolled back… and it has been a bit hard to separate the good of the patch with the bad of having loot nerfed again.
Anthem has a loot problem, namely that it is way too stingy with Masterworks but more importantly too stingy with Legendaries. All told I have gotten 4 Legendary drops in what is now 164 hours worth of play time. Dividing that out it is me seeing a Legendary drop every 41 hours of play time. There are folks out there who have racked up similar hours and have yet to see a single one. It was the futile hope of the player base that when we removed Whites and Greens from dropping in post 30 content… that it would have a positive effect of skewing the number of Masterworks and Legendaries we would get. However as some testing has shown… essentially every green and white drop was replaced by a purple… which is awesome if you are just getting started but more disenchant fodder once you enter the hunt for Orange and Lime (that’s what I am deciding to call legendary green). There is an interesting post that was up on the reddit over the weekend… where a player farmed 200 drops with +95 luck before and after the patch, linking to the original thread but going to post the data here for reference.
- Common: 17 items at 8.5%
- Uncommon: 24 items at 12%
- Rare: 34 items at 17%
- Epic: 102 items at 51%
- Masterwork: 21 items at 10.5%
- Legendary: 2 items at 1%
- Rare: 28 items at 14%
- Epic: 163 items at 81.5%
- Masterwork: 7 items at 3.5%
- Legendary: 2 items at 1%
The original poster went to the trouble of documenting all of their loot with screenshots, but accounting for randomness it does appear that the Common and Uncommon slots are now just Epic items, which again is great for people getting a start in the game but bad for anyone who has collected a set of epic gear which now happens frighteningly fast under the current loot environment.
All of that said… I am still enjoying myself and have managed to cobble together gear for three different javelins at this point. I will probably be starting on the Storm at some point soon once I have spent a bit more time fine tuning the Interceptor. Right now I have something that I would call a proper build on both the Ranger and the Colossus, and I will be farming content until I reach that point on the Interceptor as well. How I am getting there… is because I am exploiting the fact that Strongholds drop a guaranteed ability and Legendary contracts drop a guaranteed component. While I only have three legendary contracts available to me each day, it seems that Quickplay on Grandmaster 1 difficulty tends to place you into a Legendary Contract more often than not… and doing this nets you a guaranteed component as well. Stronghold Quickplay similarly nets you a guaranteed ability drop… however in my experience this is bugged out the vast majority of the time and not really worth your effort.
Now I realize there are a lot of players out there that have been having issues with the game nonstop since release. However for the most part I had not… until this weekend when I started heavily relying on Quickplay. That functionality seems to be far more buggy than the rest of the game, and I am wondering if the majority of the issues that players have been encountering have revolved around trying to do this abbreviated path to loot. Normal Quickplay seemed to stick me in far fewer bugged out instances than it did before the patch, however when something went wrong… it went REALLY wrong often times causing me to have to either go through a loop of being bounced back to the loading screen like the above screenshot… or having to hard kill the client. Starting Missions, Contracts, Strongholds and Freeplay myself all resulted in predictably smooth gameplay… however any time I dared to mess with Quickplay I was effectively playing with fire.
Another byproduct of the patch is that overall Javelin power feels like it has increased, and a side effect of that is that none of the lower difficulty ranks seem to be anywhere near as populated as they were. Thalen reported issues getting full groups on normal difficulty as he was playing through the story and leveling, and I personally experienced a challenge getting groups at hard difficulty when I was attempting to finish getting the epics on my Interceptor. So one of two things has happened… either the average player has released that they can now crush Grandmaster 1 thanks to the power scaling, or more likely a lot of players have just stopped messing with the game out of frustration over various issues. Neither case is great for the game as a whole because it makes it harder and harder to onboard a supply of new players. Grace will be starting up this week and I will be curious to see how that experience is as a new player and whether or not the matchmaking is as quick as it was for the rest of us that started out. Side note since I have done this pretty much every week, throwing out a screenshot of the Alliance contribution screen… I have yet to hit the hard cap for the week.
One final screenshot of note… since I played a bit of Warframe this weekend… I am pretty sure these two chests in the hanger area are a nod to that game. Anyone has played much Warframe will notice that they have a lot of lockers scattered throughout the ships that look suspiciously similar to these. Also oddly enough playing a lot of Anthem has somehow made Warframe feel more manageable? I was not nearly as motion sick playing it yesterday as I have been in the past, and the way too zoomed in perspective did not feel anywhere near as bad as it had after playing the whirling ball of death that is the Interceptor. I still greatly prefer Anthem, but I have a feeling I could probably start to finally delve into Warframe if I so choose.
So where we are left is that Anthem needs to make a lot of changes quickly. Chad Robertson the Head of Live Services chimed in over on twitter with some comments to this whole situation. It spans several tweets so quoting rather than just pasting the thread for ease of consumption.
We appreciate all the feedback from the community on the game. We love the passion and share it. We’re not yet fully happy with the game’s loot behavior either. One of the downsides of moving so fast to improve is that we’re making changes to complex loot systems in several areas and it’s then harder to know how it’s performing. In the next few months, we’re expecting to make significant changes, but we’re starting with some incremental ones so we can better navigate that evolution. Our goal is to ensure the best possible player experience.
So while I appreciate this comment, because they are actually saying words in reference to problems… which is a step above a lot of studios out there. The biggest problem that I have with this comment is the fact that he mentions the time frame of “the next few months”. I am not entirely certain that they have months… and more likely have weeks to sort this out before players simply give up and file this game in the bin of “check back for year two” like so many of us did with Destiny. We already see the signs in matchmaking of players dropping out of the system, which is a bad sign. Additionally the temperature of the Reddit has shifted drastically over the last few days, which was a different situation than the inflammatory YouTube community… they were positive and hopeful and I think were pinning their hopes on the patch from March 12th fixing a lot of the major issues… namely with loot drops. That however has drastically shifted to a community demanding fixes now, because Patch 1.0.3 did not deliver the solace they were hoping for. While I am still playing the hell out of this game… I cannot say they are necessarily wrong in their frustrations.
There have been two situations where supposedly accidental loot changes have “fixed” the game. In both times the game felt so much better because it didn’t feel bad when you got another Masterwork with crappy rolls, because you knew another one was right around the corner. The unbridled excitement of actually seeing a legendary drop, and knowing that this wasn’t a once in a career thing… made you care less about also getting crappy rolls on it too. Loot needs to flow like water Diablo 3 style so you can pick through the dross and cobble together something resembling a proper build. Nothing is more frustrating than getting a bunch of abilities you don’t care about… when you have a specific style of play that you enjoy on your character… but feel forced to use the Masterworks because the item level increase makes them just flat out superior to using a proper build. All of this felt less of the case when the loot was accidentally generous… and the players will not be satisfied until we get something resembling that state again.