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Agility and Frostbite failed Anthem? No, EA did!

BioWares looter shooter Anthem has been out for about a month and a half. The gaming environment and the press have poured negativity on the game as sour since long before the release date. Why? Because Anthem is unfinished and empty in many areas where a complete and polished AAA title should not be. This article goes over the reasons why Anthem is not what it should have been and what it really should have been.

To the new reader who has not previously followed my Anthem cover and is not aware of how much a BioWare fan I am, let me tell you that this is not an EA hat article. I'm not a professional journalist like Jason Schreier, and I have no sources as he does. Most of the content below is based on my own opinion from investigating the game for years and now playing it for hundreds of hours before and after its official launch.

I still enjoy playing Anthem two to four hours on a daily basis on average. I'm not blind to the many problems, but if you want to learn why and how to stick to the game and still enjoy it despite the many errors and problems it has, check out the last section of the article.

Which BioWare actually made Anthem

Yesterday, a massive article was published on Kotaku.com by one of the area's most respected journalists Jason Schreier. It had the title "How BioWare Anthems went wrong". It tries to track the production of the game from the earliest stages back in 201

2 to release in February 2019. Jason claims he has 19 BioWare employees (most if not all of them for BioWare) who have contributed facts and inside information from the kitchen in the two studies that mainly worked at Anthem.

The original BioWare Edmonton, who was responsible for Dragon Age and Mass Effect Franchises, had the idea of ​​Anthem back in 2012 when the first glimpse began to float around and rumors began. Later in 2014 we saw a tech preview with a few short comments from devs. Austin Studio, created and responsible primarily for Star Wars: The Old Republic, was brought in later in the project to help with development. Now after the launch, it took over to continue delivering the live service. The third study in Montreal was largely lonely with a focus on mass effect: Andromeda and slowly diminished after the game failed to meet expectations.

 Anthem world
The view for Anthem changed several times. BioWare did not hide this fact. They showed it in Art of Anthem | Image source: ea.com

Anthem wanted to be a new and different game. In fact, from this article, we learned that most of the titles' developers did not even know what the game would or should be. All this happened until very recently – early 2017.

In his article, Jason writes long and detailed paragraphs on some of the major issues that Anthem faces in the pre-production and under the actual development – incompleteness from the project managers in the Edmonton study, the EA's frost bite requirement should be used as the engine of the engine and set in stone release date which once again EA refused to delay.

BioWare's indecision and lack of proper management, capable of making the tough decisions, EA's persistence, the Frostbite engine to use, and the fixed release date, when it is clear that the game is not is ready yet. These are the three main points I will discuss in more detail below.

The Anthem leadership

BioWare is known for creative storytelling. They are one of the best role-playing players ever and. With the release of SWTOR, Andromeda and Anthem, their reputation is now far from what it once was. While SWTOR had amazing stories, it fights in many other areas. The game is far better than what it was in December 2011 when it was launched, but still not what fans expected.

Jason reports in his article that it was mostly indecision that destroyed Anthem's development. Many of the leaders at different stages of production (because there have been a few!) Were unable to make the tough decisions and put in the stone the future of various parts of Anthem.

Of course, this is strictly a problem inside the studios. If BioWare is to regain its glory, they must act quickly and not allow the Andromeda and Anthem development cycles to take on another game.

Not telling your colleagues what to strive for is a major problem in all kinds of work, not just game development. The fact that several leading manufacturers have been changed for various reasons certainly did not help the game.

 Anthem 1.0.4 Elysian Caches Update
Update 1.0.4 was also the largest range since Anthem's release, but also caused most grief and a backlash from communities with revealed that Elysian Cashes will not have armor parts.

Anthem has been in the works since about 2012. In my overview of The Art of Anthem, you most likely read how the course of the game changed in the pre-production. First, there was an idea that the planet would be placed in a sort of space-bermuda triangle, where the spaceship was captured and then crashed on the surface. Lancers should not fly in early stages of development. This, according to Jason, has been changed back and forth several times over the years until it was set in stone in mid-2017.

Why wasn't indecision the main reason why Anthem was released unfinished?

Do you know cd project red? They are the Polish studio responsible for the great fame that the witch franchise has today. They are now working on a whole new game – Cyberpunk 2077. Do you know how long it has been since they announced that they are working on it? About seven years! Who knows how long they have "the game of ideas" before the official announcement. No one requires a release date from them. And Cyberpunk 2077 is not a brand new IP created from scratch. It is based on a table game game. EA pushed BioWare to a release date. The reason Anthem released unfinished is because EA refused to delay the release date past the financial year ending in March.

Frostbite was not created for RPGs and third-person shooters

The famous now Frostbite game engine (a collection of tools and systems used to create a video game) has been in use for all EA's games for several years now . DICE originally created it for their own purposes – the Battlefield games and later the Battlefront demons. It was a motor designed for something quite specific. It was not a tool that suited BioWare's needs.

The problem started with Dragon Age: Inquisitions. Jason repeatedly points out how the game was developed at the last minute, and it created a lot of frustration with the people who worked endlessly to follow the deadline "end of 2014". He also quotes developers complaining about the Frostbite engine. The team was forced to create brand new modules and systems and then add to the existing engine to make it a third-person camera, angle, behavior.

The same problems were repeated with Andromeda a few years later. While Andromeda was also full of reboots, redesigns and drastic changes to its core, the engine again suffered much of the blame.

Not surprisingly, the story of Anthem repeated. Again, most ideas and concepts proved impossible or extremely difficult to customize using the DICE engine. Many of the people working at Anthem complained openly and asked for a third party tool, such as The unreal engine to use.

If the engine is such a move for several consecutive titles, why in hell did EA require it to be used for all of them? Did they learn nothing from their own past experiences?

The truth is that EA is a company that is only led by the money's noise. Having their own "in-house" engine for all their titles was important and a great financial advantage.

Of course it makes sense, of course. However, the problems continued stacking. Jason's internal Frostbite engine has its own support crew member within EA. This team is there to help the various studios under the EA's hood while working on their games. Problem? Yes. The time these guys were allowed to devote to each dev team and their own title to help them solve problems and understand why the tools work the way they did was based on the amount of sales the game is expected to make. When FIFA switched to Frostbite, it took a significant workforce away from Anthem to make the move to EA's largest and most successful financial franchise.

Problem with release date

When I mentioned CD Project Red earlier, it was not just because I like them and would like to give their work as an example. No, of course they have their own problems. Of course I will not go into details about them.

CD Project Red is a company that does not have a hood or meeting ship to control and manipulate their decisions. They are not responsible for anyone except the players who buy their titles. It allows them to draw the production of Cyberpunk 2077 for so many years. But they showed up with The Witcher 3 and later with Gwent that they care about the gamer and customer satisfaction is a big thing in their books!

Have you wondered why this is so? It can't be just because they create a huge game with lots of content. No. They also face similar problems with tough decisions. Most likely not to the same extent as BioWare with Anthem as Cyberpunk is an already established universe with all its lore in place.

 Anthem Colossus
The nice release plan spread over two weeks and gave different payment options to different paying customers, was a big minus to the game, in my opinion!

EA originally wanted Anthem to be out before the end of 2018. The Christmas holiday is the largest market for video games throughout the year. The release date was then pushed further since EA was willing to allow it – February 2019 – just before the end of the financial year.

Although BioWare's own error is not denied to pull Anthem's pre-production. This is entirely their own responsibility. It is a whole new universe created by absolutely nothing and strives to refrain from the already established legacy of Mass Effect and Dragon Age. Yet over four years of pre-production is much more than what should be for a game of this scale and type.

EA's greed is understandable to some extent. They are a public company, and investors tend to care more for their own wealth and bank account than the entertainment of the random gamer who thinks they are entitled to claim a $ 60 AAA title that will give them 250 hours of pure fun and joy without uniformity. CD Project Red did it with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, but it's more like an exclusion.

Had EA not forced Anthem release, I could have struggled with which game to play, how SWTOR does not get enough attention and funding for new content. If I get the opportunity to play Anthem now in its current state or wait a year to finish it, I am voting for now. Why? Because for $ 60 purchases ($ 80 in my case) I got the value I paid for. Yes, I endured the worst condition of the game as it was during the early launch, but I won't wait another year. If BioWare keeps their promise and adheres to the game, I wouldn't mind seeing it evolve live in front of my eyes and see all the lack of content and hot spots being filled month after month.

Conclusions and a few more personal thoughts

The Kotaku article is truly one of the longest I have read about Anthem. Jason Schreier has made a great effort to discover so many secrets from several developers working on the game and other sources.

While I was reading it myself, I felt that it was constantly moving toward the belief that it was not EA to blame, but the BioWare management alone. This is only partly true in my opinion. I have no doubt about Jason's honesty and honor in presenting the story as best he could, but I cannot accept his statement. EA is as guilty as "BioWare's top floors".

Remember how EA was "crowned" worse business two years in a row? This was a reason! If it wasn't for the Star Wars community's reaction to the crazy Battlefront 2 controversy, I think we would have seen microtransactions implemented deep in Anthem's progression and loot as well.

Today I saw that some people are beginning to advocate EA. What? Really? I really can't blame EA for their actions. A company of such size and with the way it is built, they must take care of earnings most of all. Something inside me is burning fast every time I hear or read EA representatives talking about how they care for the players and want to improve them. The only thing EA cares about is money and benefits. Again – I can't really blame them. I hate the fact that I don't owe them. I hate to see what BioWare has become under EA's leadership. But as it was revealed many years ago, if it wasn't for EA, this study may not have lived today.

Yesterday I saw BioWare's blog book first. That's how I learned that there was "an article" that apparently was an answer. The text did not match what was in the article at all. I also think this was not the right way and moment for such an answer. Kotaku is one of the biggest game stores today and opposes them instead of working together to clear the confusion and misinformation (if any), would have been a much better approach than going out of the defense.

After all this I would like to end with a positive. Like some of the developers complaining to Kotaku about many issues while working on the game, I also see a bright future. Will BioWare turn things around and deliver what was promised? I believe it 100%. They just have no other options, just as they did not have to choose the Frostbite engine for Anthem.

I'm not blind to the game's current state. I don't like going down and interrupting pretty much every day. I do not like the foliage system in its current format. I can't believe design is so useless. I am surprised in the most negative way that such a multiplayer-focused game has no text chat setting at launch.

It's been a month and a half since I started playing the game every day. As I said at the beginning, I still enjoy it and have no plans to stop. I spend an average of two to four hours of farming for my legendary Javelin Builds, and I do it with friends, which makes the grinding process much less annoying and fun!

I urge both BioWare and EA to step up on the quality of their games. It's not just Anthem that has failed in the last few years. Star Wars: Battlefront 1 and 2 also launched half-empty and riddled with many problems. Specifically, the second Battlefront was developed by three studies. How could they fail? Pressure! Do not tap from their own studies, but from EA's requirement to meet deadlines and send an unfinished product that can be labeled "live service" and attached within a year or so before it begins to see that an real extra content for it.

One of the main reasons I was not completely disappointed with Anthem was probably many of you because I already know what to expect from a "live service game" under the EA umbrella.

So what if Anthem has been in development for over 6 years? If the game is not finished, EA must have delayed it, not rush an unfinished product and further damage BioWare's already badly shaken reputation.

Now there's a place where I remove the digital pencil and stop hitting. In summary, Jason Schreier wrote a very comprehensive and interesting retrospect of Anthem's unstable development cycle. But a little was new to us, who have been close to the project and have been following it for the past few years. I have been aware since I saw the tech demo in 2014. At the beginning of 2018, I even wrote a report on how bad Anthem & # 39; s development is. In my second game, which I play actively – SWTOR, it was painfully clear when and how the resources of the BioWare Austin study were pulled and positioned to support Anthem in a desperate attempt to meet the EA deadline.

What would you say? Did you read the Kotaku article, what do you think of Anthem? Do you enjoy it and why?

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