Anthem: release date, demo, Javelins, hub and everything we know

By Lauren Aitken, Tuesday, 23 October 2018 11:55 GMT

After the disappointing reception of Mass Effect: Andromeda, news of BioWare’s upcoming new IP Anthem has been tentatively received.

Despite promising to “retain the heart and soul of a BioWare experience” more details have emerged about Anthem that place it about as far away from the narrative-driven, romance-heavy tales we’re used to.

There’s no open beta planned for Anthem but those who have pre-ordered it can play a demo in February, much like how those with EA/ Origin Access were able to play the first 10 hours of Andromeda for free.

Anthem has entered its alpha stage, which usually means that a game is content complete.

In a blog post celebrating the news, BioWare general manager Casey Hudson wrote that playing Anthem with other players reminded him of his first time testing Baldur’s Gate multiplayer many moons ago.

For now, let’s look at everything we know about Anthem.

Anthem release date

Anthem is due for release on February 22, 2019, on all platforms, though players EA/ Origin Access can start playing on February 15, 2019.

Anthem pre-orders and demo

There are two editions of Anthem available for pre-order: The Legion of Dawn Edition and the Standard Edition.

With the Legion of Dawn Edition pre-order, you will receive:

  • VIP access to pre-launch demos
  • Founders player banner
  • Ranger: Legion of Dawn legendary armour pack and weapon
  • Ranger: Javelin exosuit legendary gear attachment
  • Colossus: Legion of Dawn legendary armour pack
  • Storm: Legion of Dawn legendary armour pack
  • Interceptor: Legion of Dawn legendary armour pack
  • Anthem digital soundtrack

And with the Standard Edition, you will get:

  • VIP access to pre-launch demos
  • Founders player banner
  • Ranger: Legion of Dawn legendary armour pack and weapon

Again, we must stress that only those who have pre-ordered or have EA/ Origin Access can play the demo.

Anthem’s hub and online presence

The gameplay in Anthem is somewhat of a departure from BioWare’s traditional model but still retains some key aspects. There will be a hub world, Tarsis, where most of the RPG story-telling and decision making will take place. Anthem will be an open world game, which will be fully online, will be where most of the action happens.

BioWare games quite often have a hub – think back to the Normandy or Skyhold in Inquisition – where most of the relationship building takes place before they go out on a mission. In that respect, Anthem is no different.

What’s new about Anthem is the pseudo-MMORPG theme. The developers made the game with co-operative play in mind and true enough Anthem’s director, Jonathan Warner, says that the “real magic of the game is when you’re playing with a squad”.

There will be Destiny-style public events as well as being able to “broadcast” space in their party where other players can jump into the current mission.

Anthem matchmaking

Anthem’s executive producer, Mark Darrah, recently confirmed on Twitter that its raids will support matchmaking, though its unclear if they will be the same level of difficulty as the raids available in Destiny, which Anthem is regularly compared to.

Anthem’s Javelins

Hastily labelled as a Destiny copycat, videos of Anthem’s gameplay revealed our new protagonists, called Freelancers, and their incredible power armour, the Javelin.

Fully customisable with parts, colours and emotes, all earnable in-game or with your real-life money, EA is still keen on having microtransactions in all their games, though they stress there will be no lootboxes. Though purely cosmetic, BioWare wanted players to be able to define their character post-launch.

There will also be an N7 skin for each Javelin, for those of us who wish this was a Mass Effect game.

The executive producer, Mark Darrah, confirmed that item trading between players won’t be a feature in Anthem and that loot drops will mostly be for the Javelin you’re currently using, but will sometimes get items for other Javelins.

There are four classes of Javelin: Ranger, Colossus, Storm, and Interceptor. Each comes with its own benefits and will be unlocked by completing specific missions.

Building on Andromeda’s excellent hover systems, the Javelins are fluid in movement, simple to control and give Iron Man a run for his money.

Traversable combat is something that’s attempted frequently but often poorly implemented, but the team behind Anthem seem to have created something truly special.

Anthem’s Freelancer

As previously mentioned, the main character in Anthem is your Freelancer. Much like Commander Shepard from Mass Effect, you’ll be able to choose some elements of your hero’s background and their gender. It’s unclear how customisable the Freelancer will be.

Freelancers are, in theory, trying to hold humanity together to help them survive in a hostile world. You’ll have “acute” threats to deal with from notable foes and factions, such as The Dominion, the primary antagonist over the core story.

The main races or factions in Anthem are the Scar, Dominion, Sentinels and Freelancers. We don’t know a lot about the Scar or Sentinels yet, but more details should emerge closer to launch.

Anthem’s gameplay

BioWare hasn’t revealed too many details surrounding the gameplay in Anthem outside of their gameplay demo from E3. The environments seen in the demonstration are stunning, as you would expect from BioWare, and the combat seems measured and enjoyable.

The world is a living world with its own lore, inhabitants, and story. And, as expected, the Javelins pack a real punch in battle.

We know that players are encouraged to play with friends and that there will be various multiplayer endgame modes to keep fans interested beyond the campaign.

Enemies will scale in line with your team’s abilities rather than with the increasing power of your Javelin, which will make for some interesting combat. There’s every chance you could switch between being grossly overpowered and easily overwhelmed at any given moment.

Dialogue

Players will need to return to Tarsis to progress the story, which is a slight deviation from BioWare’s usual storytelling mode. Players will be actively encouraged to forge relationships with teammates and BioWare has promised free post-launch content to keep these characters and relationships alive.

It’s also unclear whether we’ll be able to romance any of our companions or not, or whether this will be part of the post-launch content. Post-launch development of characters is something that was sorely missed from Andromeda, so it will be interesting to see if BioWare pulls it off.

There won’t be the usual level of complicated and interwoven storylines we’re used to from a BioWare game, but the story will still feature elements of player choice with an emphasis on social play.

BioWare has teased a new social feature in Anthem, but it isn’t clear what it will be, only that they want to “remove the awkwardness of having multiplayer social interactions”. Perhaps we’ll finally see emotes and weird dances removed from a multiplayer game.

That’s all we have on Anthem! We’ll update this page regularly so check back often for more details.

Anthem is out February 22 on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.

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