Bioware’s general manager Casey Hudson promises to “reinvent the core gameplay loop” in Anthem.
When Bioware’s Anthem launched into the world last year, it’s fair to say it struggled. It faced technical difficulties – with the rocky launch that’s almost expected of live service games – but, more seriously, with the game itself.
There were sparks of greatness in there. Anthem’s Javelins are great fun to fly and fight with, for one thing. And you can’t mistake glimmers of Bioware’s craft. But the game struggled with purpose, progression, and pacing from the start.
EA’s answer, as it is to most things, was to offer people more “stuff” – events, equipment, and other ephemera – that we can give them money for. But Anthem isn’t the only live-service game that has struggled. And others, when given enough time and support by their publishers, have come out the other side. Notably, the likes of Destiny and Final Fantasy XIV only really got going after a long period of time and game-changing reworks.
Today, in a blog on the Bioware website, general manager Casey Hudson summarised the current state of Anthem. (And the steps that will be required to turn things around.)
“I am so proud of the work the team has put into this game, and at the same time, there’s so much more that we – and you – would have wanted from it,” Hudson says.
“Over the last year,” he continues, “the team has worked hard to improve stability, performance and general quality of life while delivering three seasons of new content and features. We have also heard your feedback that Anthem needs a more satisfying loot experience, better long-term progression and a more fulfilling end game. So we recognize 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.”
So the team at Bioware will be taking time to rework Anthem. What will become of the game and its player base in the meantime, while it is under redevelopment?
“In the meantime,” Hudson confirms, “we will continue to run the current version of Anthem, but move away from full seasons as the team works towards the future of Anthem. We’ll keep the game going with events, store refreshes, and revisiting past seasonal and cataclysm content – starting with our anniversary towards the end of the month.”
“Sometimes we get it right, sometimes we miss,” Hudson says. Anthem isn’t out of the woods by any stretch, but it’s good to see EA is giving the game, and Bioware, a chance to turn things around.