Daily Archives: April 7, 2019

Zero Punctuation does Anthem

Not being a fan of the “loot shooter” sub-genre, when EA launched Anthem it was just “the other game” they released in February along with Apex Legends.  Of course I wasn’t going to play Apex Legends either, but at least it was an interesting diversion in the battle royale genre.

Also, if you Google “Anthem logo” you get a lot of different results.

Used without permission

So I would have ignored Anthem the way I have pretty much ignored Destiny, Borderlands, and The Division, save for the fact that the internet seemed quite obsessed with Anthem.  But it was hard to tell if the game was just bug ridden, something that can theoretically be fixed over time, or a genuinely bad design.  Reviews seemed to not like the design, but couldn’t stop fretting over bugs.  The PC Gamer review probably focused on design more than most, but a lot of the frustration was still about bugs.

Despite a reputation than leans on humor and quick pacing, I think Yahtzee Crowshaw might have the most design-centric review of Anthem, focused pretty much on game play design without a mention of the software problems.  Also, he makes fun of EA, something most of us can get on board with.

 

The upshot was Anthem is BioWare trying to make something that really isn’t in their wheelhouse.  And I would have left it there had there not been the giant How BioWare’s Anthem Went Wrong story over at Kotaku.

Holy moly.  I mean, I’ve lived some of that.  Ill defined goals, misidentified competition, and  corporate dictates about what platform or tools are allowed regardless of their fitness for the current development purpose are all daily occurrences in any larger organization.  I spent most of last summer dealing with the fact that our 2018 continuous integration dictate was not compatible with our  2015 platform dictate, both of which came from some senior exec who either used the same thing at their last company or saw a cool demo and decided to bet the company on it.

But the Anthem story… well, it just shows that when you have an entertainment property there are a lot more ways things can get completely screwed up.

And then there was the EA/BioWare non-response to the article, posted minutes after it was posted, meaning it was a pre-formulated deflection that feels a bit like it is refuting some other article about the game.

All of which I could have ignored, but it seems like a moment in gaming that might be a tipping point for change.  Not good change, of course.  More like EA laying off more BioWare staff or retiring their brand or something.  We shall see.