Mass Effect: Andromeda is effectively put on ice, but don't count BioWare out. In today's Microsoft E3 press conference, we're all now chewing on a fuller reveal of BioWare's latest IP, Anthem.
We haven't seen much. But our own John Yan's knee-jerk response is that it's The Division meets Destiny. From what I've seen, that might be pretty close. Anthem will be online, cooperative, and set in a contiguous world. You will meet interesting new species and then shoot them. It's being billed as an action role-playing game, but this trailer, anyway, is hiding a lot (if any) of it's RPG-ness. Perhaps RPG shooter fits the bill. Who knows? It's early. But they're showing off what the Frostbite engine does best: let good-looking character models shoot a bunch of stuff.
Right off the bat in this gameplay reveal, there's a literal pulling back of the curtain to show a bustling crowd, stuffed with bazaar kiosks, crisp shadows cutting down from above, copper kitchenware grabbing some shine, and people pushing past each other in narrow places. A massive dino robot stomps down a lane, and I'm suddenly getting sci-fi Dinotopia vibes. I like it. A quietly panicking individual approaches you and calls you "Freelancer," this world's version of Destiny's Guardians, I suppose.
The mission giving and receiving was quick and organic. It didn't look like there was any opportunity to refuse. An objective pops up and slides over to the side of the screen and you seamlessly walk further through the bazaar. No two people are dressed alike.
You and your friends can drop in and drop out as the people that leave the safety of Fort Tarsus to go beyond The Wall into the unknown to "protect humanity." That's a mission statement as grandiose as it is vague. Just what an online co-op shooter needs, to be honest.
Next, you hop into an unfortunately generic-looking exosuits called a Javelin. This is my first point against the art style. Without, like, a watermark on the pic, it might be difficult to tell whether you're looking at a screenshot of Anthem or any number of generic far future characters. It somehow lacks the science-fantasy D&D-in-space look of Destiny, and also lacks the pared-down merc chic of The Division. While the exosuits can look different from one another, they don't look very different from whatever you're imagining an exosuit looks like in your head right now.
The world beyond The Wall is stunning. The mud, bracken, trees, cliffs, and ruined architecture look great. The jetpack that was just introduced in Mass Effect: Andromeda is here in full effect. There are seamless transitions from the air to ground to water, making these true SEAL-like soldiers.
Hopefully the BioWare team is up to the task. Anthem looks great. It's not insanely flashy, but it's doing its thing. It also looks completely out of BioWare's wheelhouse. I'll admit that both Dragon Age: Inquisition and Mass Effect: Andromeda both underwhelmed me. Lost a couple $60 bills on those. So, sure, perhaps it's time to take this studio in another direction.
Anthem's release window is at Fall 2018.
By Patrick Söderlund, Excutive Vice President of Electronic Arts
Today we unveiled Anthem, EA’s newest IP. Our team at BioWare hand-crafted an entire new world, and equally as important, an entirely new experience. This isn’t like any BioWare game you’ve played before – in fact, it’s unlike any game we’ve ever made at EA.
As a player, there’s nothing quite like thrill of discovering new games and experiences. It’s why I have always loved playing games, and why I try to play everything. Seeing how much innovation there is in the industry across all corners – interactive storytelling, social gameplay, visual fidelity, live services -- drives our teams to push the boundaries and deliver the unexpected.
As a developer, all of this excitement can also be frightening. Starting from a clean sheet – no genre, no story, no gameplay design or systems, etc. – almost everything has to go right to see a new IP all the way through. And the truth of the matter is, a lot of great ideas on paper, never realize their full potential.
The time and investment is why new IP can be so risky. But when you think you have something special… you have to go for it.
And that’s what we have with Anthem. Ever since I heard the original concept, I’ve had a special passion for this game. I love the contrast of the beautiful, lush world with savage, exotic beasts. Seeing the advanced technology of the Javelin suits, contrast with the primitive and brutal ruthlessness of the environment.
Our team has incredible ambition for this title. They’re telling a new story, creating a social, co-operative experience, and putting it in a contiguous open world that is dynamic and will be ever-changing for years to come.
The time is right for a game like Anthem. The power of new consoles, the way genres are evolving and blending into each other, the way we are playing games together for longer periods of time through live service. You are going to love this game, this world and this experience. We can’t wait to share it with you in the Fall of 2018.