Howdy Freelancers! I spent the whole weekend playing the Anthem VIP demo, open only to those who pre-ordered the game, and wanted to let you know my thoughts about it.
Firstly let’s get the ugly bit out of the way. On Friday the VIP demo launched at 5PM everywhere, but it didn’t go as planned. The demo was pretty much broken because it was impossible to log in. For me the situation was; open the game from the PS4 home screen, wait for it to load the home screen, press X to try to connect, get told that I have no connection. I reloaded the demo over and over for an hour and nothing happened, just the same old stuff.
I want to point out that I’m not angry or even bothered about this. The demo was made from an early build of the game, and it was always going to be buggy. The point of early access demos is to root out these bugs. As it turns out the issue wasn’t a connection problem at all as Bioware first thought, but they were able to fix it for the most part by the end of the open weekend.
Bioware have been extremely apologetic and have even brought out a new vinyl as a sorry present for everyone who played the VIP demo. that is very nice of them, and I want to say thank you to everyone at Bioware for making the VIP demo possible at all regardless. Now onto the good stuff.
There were only a handful of story missions available during the VIP demo, and to be honest they felt like more of a side storyline. I don’t want to spoil anything so all I’ll say is that they involved Matthias, the Arcanist you’re rescuing in the IGN gameplay.
These missions felt great to play, and they were quite meaty despite feeling like side stuff. In-between each mission I was talking to a small group of NPCs in Fort Tarsis, some of which didn’t have anything to do with the missions. Every time I came back these people had something new to say, and their storylines had advanced slightly. This was really fun to be a part of, and extended my time in Fort Tarsis with something to do, making it feel like more than a hub.
I have to say, that all the Javelins feel really fun to play as. As another thank you Bioware unlocked every Javelin to players over level 12 late yesterday, and I got into every single one apart from the Storm.
Every Javelin feels slightly different, and they all play in a completely different way. The Colossus, my favourite, is actually super awkward to use, but very fun to fight with. I think the Interceptor is probably the most fun to play as, and the Ranger feels like a good balance between the two, but also feels like it’s missing something.
I managed to get in a couple of hours worth of Freeplay, which is just flying around exploring the world of Anthem. I have to say that even the very small section of world we were allowed to explore in the VIP demo felt huge. There were so many details in every area, underwater sections, caves, and World Events. I played a couple of World Events, and they felt very much like they had the right level of challenge to them without feeling like too much.
Once you’ve gotten used to each Javelin, shooting and using their abilities is a breeze. Every single one has been handcrafted to be exactly what you’d expect it to be, and I mean that in the sense that the Colossus is bulky and a bit dumb, and the Interceptor is slick and sleek.
There was one Stronghold mission available in the VIP demo, you might have seen the giant spider boss at the end of it in gifs everywhere. The issue I had with this was getting kicked out every now and then, or having the Freelancers who had matchmade with me disappear.
I did complete the Stronghold but was kicked before it finished, so I just had more XP when I loaded back in. This was really annoying, and actually I never did fight the spider boss. But I’m, not that bothered because it was incredibly tough, and my time was better spent in Freeplay.
Strongholds feel like they’re a bit too tough when you don’t have others in your group. Every activity is machmade, which is brilliant, but every time I was on my own I found the entire thing way too difficult, even in easy mode. Here’s the thing though, this is an old build of the game, so it might be much more balanced by now.
There weren’t any actual monetisation options live in the VIP demo, but everyone got 100 Coins for playing. There were cosmetics which could be purchased with these Coins, and I’m assuming that’s what the monetisation in the final game is going to look like. I want to point out that there was also something called Shards, which looks like the premium currency for the final game.
The sorts of things you can buy were new emotes, new armour variations, and new colour or material shaders. This is pretty much what I expected from the monetisation in Anthem, and it really isn’t in your face at all. I only really discovered them because I was pratting about for so long in the Forge, the area where you customise and kit out your Javelins.
I don’t think anyone has the right to kick off about monetisation in the game. Bioware need to make a living from Anthem long after release if it’s going to be an evolving game. Expansions will be part of that, but small things like this have to be in there for those Freelancers who will buy them.
Overall I think the VIP demo was a success in terms of technical discoveries. I think Bioware benefitted greatly from this early test, and hopefully it’ll mean that this weekend’s open demo has very little, or none, of the same problems.
I also think that this demo was a failure in the sense that a lot of Freelancers were let down, and ultimately unable to play. I know there’s not a lot that could have been done, and things should be better in the final game.
In terms of the gameplay and story, the things that matter, the game is phenomenal. Gameplay feels fantastic, but more importantly the story is very Bioware. I had no idea where the story was going with the missions available, but it took me to a place that I couldn’t have predicted if you put a gun to my head.
I think Anthem is something very special, and the VIP demo reinforced that. If you have the chance to play the open demo this weekend, then do it. It’ll probably be available to download a little later this week, so keep an eye out. Let me know what you thought of the VIP demo in the comments.
Image Source: PC Invasion