Bioware has finally announced the news Anthem players have been calling for: the game is getting redesigned.
When the multiplayer shooter launched last year, players liked parts of it – the aerial combat, the different mech classes, and the story, for instance – but quickly found the underlying systems unsatisfying and repetitive. You could blaze through the game’s campaign quickly and the endgame content just wasn’t worth sticking around for.
In the year since Anthem‘s release, there have been updates – though much less substantial than initially planned – but it’s not been enough to build an audience. Bioware has decided that patches aren’t enough, the game is being dragged back to the drawing board and redesigned to fix its fundamental flaws.
“Anthem needs a more satisfying loot experience, better long-term progression and a more fulfilling end game,” Bioware’s general manager Casey Hudson wrote in a post on Anthem‘s site.
“We recognise that there’s still more fundamental work to be done to bring out the full potential of the experience, and it will require a more substantial reinvention than an update or expansion. Over the coming months we will be focusing on a longer-term redesign of the experience, specifically working to reinvent the core gameplay loop with clear goals, motivating challenges and progression with meaningful rewards – while preserving the fun of flying and fighting in a vast science-fantasy setting. And to do that properly we’ll be doing something we’d like to have done more of the first time around – giving a focused team the time to test and iterate, focusing on gameplay first.”
While Hudson doesn’t say when this reinvention will launch, the fact the team is spending months simply determining the direction of Anthem‘s future suggests it will be a long time until we see the fruits of their labour.
What does this mean for Anthem in the meantime? Well, the game isn’t being turned off and it will still be receiving “events, store refreshes, and revisiting past seasonal and cataclysm content”. Though, there won’t be seasonal updates as were originally planned.
Anthem players may be frustrated that the game won’t get much new content in the immediate future, but for months they’ve been filling the forums and subreddits about the game with demands for this kind of a redesign.
Also, Bioware appears to be doing more to communicate what it is doing to fix the game compared to other developers. Valve, for instance, after the launch of its card game Artifact simply went quiet for months. It eventually published a post saying that the team was trying to fix problems with the game and that it wouldn’t be talking about it publicly until it was ready to reveal the solutions. That was nearly a year ago and there’s been no word since.
Redesigning Anthem must be an expensive endeavour and one that may well not make back the cost of EA’s investment. But the publisher must be weighing up the cost of fixing the game versus the long-term impact to Bioware’s reputation if they were to leave it broken. Anthem was a very public failure for the publisher, one that was all the more painful after the poor reception of Mass Effect: Andromeda. EA and Bioware are likely looking at Anthem as an opportunity to redeem the studio in the public’s eyes.