As predicted, Anthem was the highlight of EA’s E3 2018 Saturday presentation. In addition to showing four minutes of never-before-seen gameplay, host Andrea Rene sat down for a 15-minute interview with the developers. BioWare's Casey Hudson, Mark Darrah, and Cathleen Rootsaert provided more details regarding the story and mechanics of Anthem.
The protagonists are known as Freelancers, a term that specifically means you can change your class at any time to fit a mission, team configuration, or even your mood. The antagonists are called The Dominion. These foes are dead set on creating a super weapon using something called the "Anthem of Creation." If they succeed, it means the end of the world. The Freelancers are not going to let that happen.
Players can play as four different classes which are defined by their Javelin exosuits. Colossus, Interceptor, Storm, and Ranger suits are available, each with unique abilities. For example, the Colossus specializes in heavy weapons and can take out large groups of enemies. The Ranger, on the contrary, is built for one-on-one combat but is more versatile, specializing in both ranged and close-quarters fighting.
Having a diverse team is a good idea, but again, the developers emphasized that players are not married to their suits. Different situations may call for different team configurations, so players are allowed to chose which suit they want to use for the occasion.
The Javelins can be customized to suit the player as well. Mark Darrah, executive producer on the project said that the exosuits would have a wide range of customizable options. Players will be able to customize the loadout of their Javelin as well as cosmetic features.
“We really want players to express themselves, both through customizing the way their Javelin plays through gear and weapons, but also being able to personalize the way that it looks — both through paint jobs as well as changing the actual geometry of the suit itself.”
While the game was designed from the ground up as a four-player co-op, the devs confirmed players would be able to play through the game solo. However, they did also note that playing solo can be more difficult.
It also sounds like BioWare plans on having a considerable amount of future DCL for Anthem.
"We're also designing it so that we can add story for years to come," said Lead Writer Cathleen Rootsaert.
She explained that community feedback on other BioWare IPs like Dragon Age and Mass Effect has driven them to write the story in such a way as to leave opportunities to expand the universe and the lore later down the road.
"No loot boxes — no ability to pay for power — no ability to spend money on gameplay advantages at all."
Because we are talking about EA here, arguably the best news coming out of the interview was that the game would not have loot boxes. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when developers can publically tout that as if it was a feature and get a round of applause from the audience. The game will have cosmetic and vanity items for purchase, but “no ability to pay for power.”
Anthem will be launching February 22, 2019, on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. That is slightly earlier than the previously estimated March release window.