Outdoor cat has officially been fed so I can now sit down and start trying to compose my feelings about Anthem Demo weekend number two. The first “VIP Demo” weekend was for folks who had pre-ordered the game and I will assume a certain batch of influencers that were brought to that special EA event to record footage. You can scroll through my thoughts about that weekend in a post I made last week, but for me and most of the AggroChat crew it was a buggy and often times unplayable mess. However there was enough good there laying just underneath the covers to make me interested and quite honestly miss playing the game. So while I was not on nearly as much as I could have been… I played a significant amount of Anthem this weekend. I managed to get in a Stronghold… this games version of a Strike and spent a significant amount of time just roaming around and doing World Events and the little mini-dungeons that are available off the segment of the map we had open to us. It galvanized my desire to play this game… and largely reinforced my decision to keep playing the “shootymans” class the Ranger… who appears to be a really amazing single target dps class.
What I want to talk about the most however is what a difference there was between the first and second weekends. During the first weekend it was a constant struggle to be able to play this game… and in the second…. everything just sorta worked flawlessly. Sure there were some minor glitches like for some reason our javelins would not load on the “reward” screen. Additionally I have never actually seen the full suit prep sequence because the game kicks me over to a loading screen when I assume that sequence is designed to make us ignore how generally long loading into an area takes. However what was gone was the need to keep closing the game with task manager and loading back in to successful get into a mission. I could just play the game as it was intended to play and this made me way more open to grouping up with friends given that it was a predictable sequence rather than a struggle to get all four players into the same instance.
I’m very impressed with how communicative Bioware has been during this whole sequence… and more than that I feel heard. We all for the most part universally complained about how bad Mouse and Keyboard Flight/Swimming felt…. and they acknowledged that yeah… it feels less than optimal. These changes are apparently already in the “live” build of the game, but what is even better is that they have started giving us a run down of things that will be fixed before the initial EA Premier launch on the 15th and what will be in place by the 22nd.
- UI Clicking on visible options in menus fixed for 15th Feb (except social which is 22nd Feb)
- Navigating Menu tabs with Q and E instead of old keybindings fixed for 15th Feb
- Forge rotation speed with mouse improved – 15th Feb
- Scrolling with mouse wheel wont zoom your javelin AND scroll the menu (will be contextual based on where your mouse is) – 15th Feb
- D-Pad will show as keyboard bindings – 15th Feb
- Turning off Motion Blur in settings now works (decoupled from post processing) – 22nd Feb
- HDR toggle available – 22nd Feb
- Camera Shake slider added – 22nd Feb
I’ve said it before but I believe that Bioware feels the pressure that this launch has to go fairly flawlessly, given the perceived failing that Andromeda was. The whole multiple launch dates thing does not do it any favors, especially considering that a lot of the issues that plagued Andromeda were fixed by the end of that first week. EA has a bad habit of shredding game studios, and the whole teasing a Dragon Age game… I think is more insurance than anything else to try and keep delaying that decision. If launch goes like last weekend however I think we are going to be just fine, and what I really want is the same level of communication that they are giving the community to continue into the first year of the game.
I really do think that Anthem might be the game that can finally blended the different looty shooty genre players together. There is enough here to intrigue the Destiny players with a rich and interesting lore and the Ranger class being essentially a “Destiny” class where it is mostly gun play with a few abilities. There is also something here for the Warframe players that want move movement and ability spam… and the Storm and the Interceptor fill those roles nicely. Then there is a class for the player who just wants to be a big freaking mech in the form of the Colossus. What is better is that gameplay feels more enjoyable when you are running with a pretty decent mix of the four classes. Ranger as far as we can tell is going to be the class that has the highest single target damage… so great for boss killing. Storm is the battle tactician that takes an overwatch position over the battlefield and can effect large swaths of it with its abilities. Interceptor is the fact melee shredder that is probably going to be excellent at grabbing objectives and avoiding taking damage. Then you have the colossus which is the king of staying alive… as was seen this weekend when Ashgar absolutely saved the day by surviving long enough to start bringing us all back up during a stronghold. They all have their key niche and all feel great when played together.
Ultimately I progressed my character as far as it probably could have been during the Demo. I managed to upgrade every slot to a level 19 rare item and my final build was an Light Machine Gun for my main weapon… a Marksman Rifle for my secondary to melt anything at a distance like snipers. Then I would run poison darts to act as my primer… that also doubles as a debuff that causes me to just deal extra damage to that target. Frag Grenades after trying a bunch of different options seems to be my detonator of choice, and also a decent crowd sweeper. Then muster point is what I was running as a damage boost for helping to burn down those big mobs. As far as components I was running one to increase Frag damage and another to increase LMG Ammunition, and it was a build I was pretty damned happy with. I could in theory go for a max damage build by picking up the devastator sniper rifle, but I never got one of those to drop for me and did not see it in the crafting tables. I also settled in on the above paint scheme which is pretty much the colors I tend to choose in any game that gives me the options.
Towards the end of the weekend they started an event that caused Primals to spawn in large numbers and frequency… so I managed to get in and take down a few of the bigger ones. In fact I was fighting one of the big primals when the servers went down, so no clue what loot might have dropped. Weirdly the game let me keep fighting, so I am guessing part of the world is cached on the client itself? This gives me concerns when it comes to what hackers are going to be able to do to the game… but without a PVP element I am not entirely certain how much it will effect me. I am a little saddened that it sounds like while my weekend was smooth and flawless… others that had a flawless previous weekend… started encountering disconnect problems during this test. I’ve now played 16 hours worth of the Anthem demo and can say that I am looking forward to starting on the 15th. If you have not already picked up the game… you can pony up for a month of Premier… which gives you a discount that you can then apply to your preorder… and will also give you access to the full game on the 15th instead of the 22nd.
So my awesome readers… are you picking up the game? Will you be joining me on the 15th or are you waiting on the 22nd… or are you just going to take a hard pass?