Anthem’s VIP demo took place over the weekend and the DCD squad played through essentially all of the available content. If you’ve read anything about it between now and when it launched, you’ve probably seen more about the buggy nature of the demo than the mechanics or content available so I’ll lightly touch on the former first and offer a bit more on the later.
There were connectivity and access issues for the entirety of the demo. These issues seemed to get better toward the end but my squad and I discovered a sure-fire workaround needing only one person to connect to the expedition correctly, so we pretty much accepted the issues as a reality and focused on playing when we could. Chad Robertson, Head of Live Service for BioWare, touches more on the technical problems of the weekend here if you’re interested. He says it boils down to three main issues (“platform connections”, “entitlements”, and “infinite loads”) that they’re working on, and clarified that server capacity was not one of the issues.
Accepting the demo’s technical issues and pushing past them, we did get to play through most of the content available. We didn’t scour every accessible inch of the map but we did complete every mission, dungeon, and the stronghold multiple times. Put simply: it was a lot of fun, it feels like a well made game, and the squad is excited for the full release.
The demo starts you out at level 10 and you get one strand of a narrative thread that consists of around 3 missions. The missions are solid ‘start here, ooh, something else happened that pulls us to a different area’ archetypal affairs but they’re quite fun. The missions offer various enemies, enemy types, environments, and difficulties. The enemy power levels range from ‘target practice’ to ‘oh f***’ which allows for feeling really powerful but also necessitates smart play and teamwork. It does feel a bit more like an MMO than I expected but that’s a really unusual observation and highly subjective critique that ultimately didn’t hurt my experience. It subverted my expectations regarding how it feels during fights but it’s something you get used to and the rest of the squad liked how it felt from the start so I could be the outlier here. The world is beautiful so far and traversal is gratifying and responsive enough once you get the hang of it. The loot seems like it will be highly varied considering it felt like I unlocked a totally new weapon or ability with every mission and very rarely was I disappointed after seeing the new abilities. In a game such as this, the loot will hold a lot of weight when it comes to keeping players engaged so that was promising. The weapons handle pretty well and they're quite well-balanced. The writing and voice acting seem very solid, BioWare-esque (humorous, realistic, capable of getting serious).
The highlight of the demo was the Stronghold; a larger, more intense squad-based mission that required more coordination. The single stronghold available ended in a satisfying boss fight and was difficult enough to be a challenge but ultimately it just excited me for what other wild boss fights and strongholds BioWare have planned. If Anthem delivers a good amount of strongholds and missions of the same, or surpassing the, quality seen in the demo, I think it's an easy front-line game for the next few months and maybe longer if they deliver worthy on-going service.
Yes, the demo was buggy and many people had issues playing it which is unfortunate— but, the content hiding underneath the issues made us all, here at DCD, pretty excited for the full game we get to play in a few weeks.