The best way to summarize Anthem, BioWare's online third-person shooter, is a cross between Mass Effect 3 and The Division. On the one hand, it's similar to other similar shooters: they'll team up with other players as you target different creatures, with the number of bodies dropping off as you work to tear them down and hoping they will new and better weapons for your powered Javelin-Mech-suits. On the other hand, Anthem is definitely a BioWare game, even if it's a slimmed down version of the more complex and story-heavy RPGs the developer is known for. Anthem encounters a middle ground that makes it unique among the shooters.
BioWare recently gave GameSpot the chance to play Anthem's first few hours at his studio in Austin, Texas, starting with the game's opening missions and some late game content. That gave us a pretty solid cross-section of what Anthem offers, from its team-based gameplay, which feels so much to the multiplayer of Mass Effect 3, to the way the game communicates stories through conversations with its various characters, similar to BioWare RPGs of the past. We have the best feeling of how we will play Anthem, at least through the main campaign.
Become a freelancer
How to enter missions and activities in Anthem. Start at your home base in Fort Tarsis and pick your spear, one of the four Iron Man-like Mech suits in the center of the fight. Most missions start with the journey to where the action is headed by your Cipher Owen, a partner in Tarsis, who will brief you on the current situation. Javelins can fly, albeit not indefinitely, thanks to their rocket boosters; Eventually, your suit overheats so you have to wait for the suit to cool down. If you dive strategically through waterfalls and lakes or dive straight down to increase the flow of air through your jets, you can cool the suit down. Exploring the anthem is almost as much a part of the game as the fight in it, and there are drops of knowledge to find and ruins and other secrets that one can discover in the world.
Every Javelin type has its own strengths and weaknesses and works together in different ways. The Ranger is the middle class of the street, specializing in single high-powered weapons such as grenades and rockets, while the Interceptor is a faster, more agile spear suitable for melee and melee attacks. The Colossus is a tank that lacks the energy shield of other Javelin classes, which means it has to play aggressively and constantly pack health packs to be effective. After all, the storm generally floats over the battle and uses elemental attacks to quell enemies and help other teammates.
All javelins can carry two weapons, and you can equip assorted guns with assault rifles on shotguns, railroad weapons, sniper rifles, pistols, and more. But in Anthem the shooting takes something back; Using the Javelin's skills in an intelligent way is what really matters in combat.
In fact, Anthem's shooting section was sometimes a bit oppressive, as the guns feel like ordinary shooter skills and are never hit very hard. The enemies of Anthem are the kind of ball sponges that can make weapons feel weak and ineffective. It's obvious that BioWare intelligently mixes your various skills with other players as you strive to engage in combat. Making strategic moves with teammates to dominate the battlefield or avoid a hard fight is the best part of any battle.  Each Javelin has two capabilities (a bumper button is attached to each controller), which can be changed in the four component slots of your javelin, depending on the features. Grenades, rockets, and various other attacks can cause status effects, such as freezing enemies or igniting enemies, and these effects can be combos. For example, if you hit an enemy "frozen" with a rocket, it will "detonate", causing it to do bonus damage or transfer the Freeze status to other enemies.
The early part of the game was the easiest way for combos, and they were not particularly exciting. Over time, however, you will learn about each Javelin's strengths and weaknesses. However, the strategy of the combo seems to be a much bigger part of the game – it has shown much more meaning and was usually much more satisfying. Level content BioWare as the early stuff demonstrates. BioWare has told us much more about how progress and teamwork will come together in Anthem, especially late in the game.
The other thing that Anthem has in combat is its speed and fluidity. At any moment, you can jump into the air and activate your jets to fly away from a lost situation, find a shady place to find your shields, or get a better view of enemy vulnerabilities. Much has been said about the verticality of Anthem in the exploration, but flying is also a big part of the fight and makes it fresh. For example, a storm spear usually floats in a battle, just outside the danger zone, to rain elemental attacks on groups of enemies and to control the battlefield. At the same time, an Interceptor can get into and out of combat, dealing severe damage and avoiding it before it gets too hot. In all cases, the effective and strategic use of flying is essential to win battles and stay alive.
We had different missions during our time in Anthem. Some are worried about Shaper Relics – a powerful alien technology left by the race that created the world of Anthem but has since disappeared. These missions usually included the subgoals known by other shooters, eg. Keeping a fixed position while a timer shuts off, or collecting items and returning them to a specific location – all these were quite generic activities in Sagittarius so to see. The fact that you can fly around in huge arenas helps to resolve things, but apart from the underlying combat and flying abilities, most of Anthem's missions are the activities that players will accomplish until now.
Other missions had us against the scars, an insect-like race of angry aliens with whom people share the world of Anthem. The more interesting enemies were the Dominion, the main opponents of Anthem. These guys are human soldiers led by a big scary Javelin pilot named Monitor. These include fighters that are comparable to the player, with javelins that make them fly, and some of the elemental powers that you can use. Their goal: grab Shaper Relics and try to control the anthem of creation for their own purposes. They are ruthless and equipped with a powerful technology, and stopping their ambitions is the main story in Anthem. (We have much more information on Anthem's story.)
Fort Tarsis: Your Story Center
If you do not fight against unusual creatures or the Monitor and its minions in Your spear, you depend in Fort Tarsis, the frontier town that you call home. Tarsis performs the usual functions of a post-mission hub and allows you to talk to faction leaders to take missions or work on your spear at a station called The Forge.
You also receive new missions from the people in the city, including your contact persons in various factions of the game, such as Brin, one of the sentinels who carries the city, called Sentinels, or Matthias, a member of the Shaper scholars that are known as arcanists. Both give you missions that you can use to increase your reputation with their organizations, resulting in more missions and better rewards.
However, the city is more than a compendium of shops and questers. It has a number of characters that allow you to have longer conversations that are similar to BioWare's traditional RPG titles. Some of them are just an outline of what's going on before your next mission, but for some, you can get to know the characters of Anthem a bit better. All conversations also include some options that allow you to at least reasonably shape your answers and the personality of your freelancer.
If you spend time with Owen, the cipher character, he revealed some of the strongest scriptures in what we saw of Anthem as we dug into his past and revealed more of his character. Owen's funny, amiable and rather complex character – the kind of character that BioWare fans will expect – and is likely to become a fan favorite that resembles the companions of the Mass Effect and Dragon Age series. But even speaking to the quest givers, Anthem has the opportunity to expand his characters and make them a little more interesting and relevant than the next contract they hand over.
Walking around Fort Tarsis and taking in some of those deeper, closer participants conversations felt like Anthem's answer to the Normandy of Mass Effect: it's a place to stay between missions and get to know the other character you share Anthem. While you do not engage in such deep conversations that make up other BioWare games, Fort Tarsis changes the feel of Anthem compared to games like The Division or Destiny 2, making the story and its characters feel a lot tighter and more personal.
The spear is rammed
As you work through missions, you get better equipment for your javelin throw. Once you reach the higher levels, you will find weapons and weapons with spear pieces that have special characteristics and change the load. If you can return loot that you found in the game to the Forge in Fort Tarsis, you can check it and equip it or save it for crafting.
You can play Anthem solo, but it's obviously meant for teamwork. The fight encourages cooperation and the inclusion of various javelin throwers in every situation. There is also the Alliance system, which rewards you for playing with others. Whenever you play with other players, whether they are friends or friends, with whom you work as you work through the game, the Alliance system passively records you and everyone you play with Alliance experience. These points will be summarized at the end of the week and converted into Anthem's game currency coin. So if you play with more people, you will earn more money.
There is also a surprisingly large customization possible comes to Speer You start the game with a variety of color options that you can apply to your Javelins, making them look pretty sleek and unique. You can also purchase additional customization options at Fort Tarsis. Anthem also contains a premium currency that you can buy with real money. This currency can be used for additional customization options. However, BioWare has previously said that premium currency is only for the purchase of cosmetic upgrades and you will never buy things like blind loot boxes – you always know exactly what you get when you spend real money.
The early game in Anthem was fun, if somewhat similar in some respects, as is common in shooters like this, especially in areas such as mission objectives and shooting games. It's the content of the late game and the final, which is the real issue at this point. Our chance to play in the high-profile Stronghold BioWare shown at E3 2018 suggested what Anthem can do if it really gets players to work together and coordinate. However, BioWare has not yet announced much details about endgame or live content. However, when there is a big concern with shared-world shooters, how well they can engage the players once the story campaign is complete?
What we've seen from Anthem shows that BioWare's online shooter is pretty familiar, but the elements he adds to the formula may be enough to keep him apart. In particular, vertical and speed while flying make the fight look different from many other things, and the characteristic approach to storytelling has the potential to make his world more captivating than entering a game codex – though Anthem also has. Our time with Anthem shows that BioWare developed the moment-to-moment gameplay pretty well in the wee hours of the morning, and there are plenty of great ideas in the game that could be enough to create a space in a stubborn genre long it can make people play long term.
Editor's note: Electronic Arts has provided GameSpot with travel and accommodation for its preview event.