An extended version of Anthem’s E3 Demo is available now on Youtube as well as other streaming sites. The demo gives eager fans a closer look at what Bioware’s upcoming cooperative action RPG will look and play like in motion. Here’s an in-depth analysis and first impressions on everything that was shown in the trailer:
The game looks phenomenal, as many are already aware. Animations take center stage here, and while many of the movements of the game’s “Titan” vanguard suit whom we spend our time spectating are slow and bulky, the sprinting animation stands out as unique and inventive while really selling the weight behind every step the player takes. Before going into a sprint, a massive jet engine in the center of the player’s back is unsheathed behind several plates of metal armor and fires up to provide thrust as the suit lumbers forward. The steps are slow, the impacts heavy, and there’s a real feeling of hulking mass when moving in Anthem from what we could tell.
The creature animations stood out as well. Later in the demo, enemy mobs began to swarm out of a central choke point like something out of the Battle for Zion in Matrix: Revolutions. As the players deployed several abilities to keep the creatures at bay, I was taken aback by a single death animation of one of the creatures that had gotten closer to a player. As it died, it rolled over onto its back and several long tendrils flailed in the air before slowly coming to rest. Such a large amount of detail from such a tiny animation serves as a good showcase of this team’s dedication to visual fidelity.
The damage numbers, on the other hand, were absolutely gigantic. The game encouraged players to combine elemental powers between each other, and would let them know when they’d done so; Large “COMBO!” indicators would appear above the damage numbers. These indicators seemed to be doing more bad than good, as I often had trouble seeing the action behind the obstructive heads-up displays.
I didn’t play the game, so I can’t really come to a census about how it feels, but from watching it, I can’t shake this feeling that it looked so… slow. Maybe this was a result of the game putting the camera behind the slowest class, but interaction with the world looked so simple and static that I began to wonder what kind of challenge this game could truly offer.
The demo the players took on certainly didn’t offer any challenge. At one point during the demo’s “Boss Battle” section, a giant enemy spider-crab began wailing on the player as she tried to shoot its weak points for massive damage. The monster struck her with three heavy overhand blows, dealing about 20% to 15% damage to her total health bar. Then the crab left, and the player’s health bar regenerated nearly instantly. It was one of the fastest regeneration delays I’d seen in a long time, probably between 1 and 1.5 seconds.
Other than that, the full flight mobility given to all players allowed them to get into positions that simplified gameplay down to “Shoot the thing, sometimes use an ability.” The player never had to use cover, never really had to retreat from an encounter, was never in danger or faced with overwhelming odds, despite what the developer commentary said. The aforementioned boss battle looked especially slow, with attacks hardly chipping away at an enormous yellow health bar. Color me unimpressed.
Nope. It’s nice to look at, and I might grab a wallpaper or two, but this isn’t a title I’ll be looking to pick up, at least not at the moment. Flight is a powerful option, but it looks like nothing the PvE enemies can throw at a player poses even the mildest threat. Hopefully future additions or re-balances add some interesting new mechanics or things to do while waiting for those big ultimate abilities to come back up. Ultimate abilities, which I must say, look really cool. It’s just a shame they don’t seem to add anything except still-bigger damage numbers.
Featured Image Via Flickr / Skeeter McTweeter