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Anthem VIP Demo Impressions

After Mass Effect Andromeda, Need for Speed Payback, Star Wars Battlefront II, Battlefield V’s bomb and lately news of their second cancelled Star Wars title, EA as a publisher has been on a serious losing streak. Their stock is falling, and their customer opinion is not great. Star Wars BF2 caused controversy even in political non gaming circles. Battlefield V caused multiple controversies, poor sales, and divisive anti-customer comments made by EA execs.

EA as a publisher was in desperate need of rescue by a home run. They needed a game to WIN. Luckily for them, they were handed a golden ticket, a get out of jail free card. BioWare, and not just any team of BioWare, “A-Team” BioWare, the geniuses behind the Mass Effect Trilogy and Dragon Age, were working on an exciting new IP. This could be the next Mass Effect, the next Halo, the next Destiny. This is one of the greatest dev teams in the history of gaming and they are building the next game for publisher EA. All EA had to do was sit back, throw money at them, and give them all the leash in the world to build a cash cow and BioWare would have single handedly saved EA. I am super excited for Anthem, and even placed it at the top of the ”Most Anticipated Games of 2019” list. My hopes were very high, even keeping a eye on GOTY category. Even more than just EA needed it to be good, all the mass effect fans who were disappointed in Andromeda needed it to be good because we got Anthem instead of A-Team BioWare’s Mass Effect 4. That’s a big sacrifice that needed to pay off.

So what the hell happened?

(Anthem "Legion of Dawn" Trailer)

Not only was the Anthem “VIP Demo” nothing more than a beta, it was one of the worst beta’s I have ever played from a AAA studio. This demo was near UNPLAYABLE. I do not mean that figuratively. It lasted for three days; the first day I let the game try to enter for hours. I would quit the game and try again over and over. I would let it sit trying again for hours. I never got in. Now, I’’ve been playing games for a long time, and service based online games can always have server issues at “launch”. This is nothing new, which begs the question why devs keep underestimating server needs to avoid this. I was not alone as thousands and thousands of players were queued and waiting at any given time. Many many people couldn’t get in. EA even posted on social media that the error was fixed and it still wasn’t

If this was it, I could maybe forgive this oversight. If this was also the free "open” demo, I could excuse it too, but this was the “vip demo” exclusive to preorder and paid membership players. Which means essentially it was a paid demo, and EA should have had a better expectation as to player count. While it is inexcusable for this to keep happening in 2019, games as a service are in full swing, so the service should work. Alone however, I could give them the benefit of the doubt.

It does not end here. If all that plagued this beta was a bad first day with over crowded servers I would let it go.

By day two (long after EA promised you could get in) I finally did. I booted up the game and it allowed me to enter. Excitedly I tweeted my entry and loaded the the game to the start. I was able to walk around the hub world for a few minutes to get to the actual missions. Then I hop in a javelin to start my first mission and bam, loading screen.

Loading screen…

Loading screen…

Loading screen…

For the few that got into the game, there was a game breaking bug where the loading screen would get stuck forever, and the only way to fix it was to force quit the game and try again (the last thing you wanted to do after finally getting in).

Some reported the infinite loading screen bug would go away after the first restart, for me it took me at least 5 times. I finally got to actual GAMEPLAY. The UI wasn’t working so I didn’t know where to even go, so I attacked the only enemy I could find and it was a total bullet soak boss that I didn’t even have enough ammo for and kept dying. I finally beat that I moved elsewhere. I encountered bugs after bugs. An entire enemy group disappeared on me. The game became difficult to progress as the infinite load screen cropped up EVERY SINGLE TIME. I had to force quit the game just to progress to each point.

(Anthem Gameplay - IGN)

Let’s talk about the graphics for a second. I can’t speak to how the game looked on Xbox or PC as I tried the demo on a PS4 Pro. There is a definite graphical downgrade. The jungle environments just looked awful. Have you ever seen a game that is just trying to load too many assets and it just looks busy and odd? Plus, the background often had a weird haze. So the few times I actually got to play the game, it wasn’t really that great to look at. The game simply just doesn't look as good as promised in trailers and E3 demos. It's not the worst looking game; it is not as bad Fallout 76, Division, Watchdogs, or Mass Effect Andromeda when it comes to launch visuals. It just doesnt currently live up to promise.

The game isn’t even out yet and already it has controversy with a total flop of a demo, and it is also facing new controversy with leaks showing Fortnite level ridiculousness with it comes to in game micro-not-so-micro transactions with 20$ skins? EA acts this is a free to play title.

(Premium Skins with Freemium prices - subject to change)

I am not an EA hater, and you all should know by now I love BioWare. Anthem sat at the top of my 2019 list, and I have be hyping it up to my friends. All I can say at this point is it’s too late for a delay, so I just hope EA backs off and lets BioWare take the reins to update it quickly. Fix the server issues, the loading bug, graphics, and other gameplay bugs. This game needed a 6 month delay, but we aren't going to get that. This game is running out of time to be good, and we only have half a month left. Dispite everything I've said, I still have hope BioWare will be able to overcome EA and deliver a gem. They still have a few weeks before launch, and many of the short comings if fixed would quickly elevate the game. Let’s hope everything I’ve pointed out is fixed by the time we get to launch.

As always stay tuned on Game Infinite for the latest Anthem news, and stay tuned for the full review.

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