Okay, I’ve made it this far without covering Anthem since the VIP Demo and I really wanted to get about 20 more hours of play in before saying anything, or say nothing at all— but that’s not going to happen. I am faced with a new article or video bashing Anthem every time I look at my phone and after seeing a particular video yesterday and this reddit post today, I feel like it would be irresponsible for me to put it off any longer. This will be neither an Anthem take-down piece nor a glowing review. I have nothing to gain from praising Anthem and nothing to gain from destroying it.
Gamers, we’ve got some issues and we need to get our shit together. Everyone knows EA needs to figure their mess out. Everyone knows that EA has made some questionable decisions the past few years and even gone as far as offended gamers with their practices. I’m not disputing that. I think many, probably a majority of people, would agree that Anthem could’ve and should’ve been cleaner and more polished at launch. I will even admit that I’ve personally considered Anthem a waste of $60 a few times while playing (or not playing) it, and I’ve read many comments across many forums repeating that consideration. But here’s the thing, I don’t think it’s generally a bad game and I’m not mad at EA or BioWare. I’m upset with myself. The dissonance lies between my own expectations, my experience, and my opinion. The game developers didn’t blatantly lie about anything. They gave us four different playable demos prior to launch (yes, it’s absurdly complicated with ea access but the opportunity was still there) and we still bought the game. Yes, some of those demos were locked behind chance or $5 for preorders or memberships but there was also an open demo available to everyone. It was marketed as a looter shooter with some novel ideas and that’s exactly what it is. They openly showed us their cards before the hand was done and we went all in anyway. And if any of you are thinking, “yeah, but the demos were broken and we didn’t really get to play the game.” That’s an extreme example of the exact point I’m trying to make. Their way of letting us play the game early wasn’t functional for many people and yet for some reason we didn’t adjust our expectations or requests— and we still struggle to separate the two. I’ve seen many people say that it’s unacceptable to release a game in Anthem’s launch state, and while I don’t fundamentally disagree, we have all proven otherwise because we continue to buy the game, play the game, and buy the next game the studio makes that has hype. We can’t vocalize that something is unacceptable and then prove, monetarily, that it is, in fact, acceptable. And we need to take responsibility for that.
I understand it isn’t easy to take that responsibility. I did, in my first run through of Anthem’s critical path, lash out (with many expletives while playing) towards EA and BioWare for making a narrative I was unable to connect with and a game that I didn’t enjoy that much. I was mad at them for releasing a game that needed more work. But it’s not their fault that it doesn’t appeal to my taste. Most of the DCD squad loves Anthem. A massive amount of people love Anthem. And it’s utterly ridiculous for me to constantly hate on game developers for appealing to the masses at the cost of identity but then be angry at a group of game makers for making a game that I don’t find very appealing. It’s totally unfair to rage at a company for pushing back release dates and then rage some more for releasing an unfinished game. It’s totally poisonous to get upset with developers for not being responsive in forums but then spewing hate and irrational criticism at them when they try to use the forums. And ultimately it’s irrational, unhelpful, unnecessary, and rude to ask for a studio to be responsive to your feedback and fix the game but then be upset when they do exactly what you’ve asked for.
We don’t know what goes on at the studio. There are some long term goals they have to keep from us for our enjoyment and hype in the long term. Transparency is infinitely important but surprise is also an integral part of the live-service model. Their loot system is intricate and could be made and balanced in a way that prepares for future endgame events that are incredibly fun and worth the wait. We do not know. But as gamers, for some reason, we fail to take responsibility for our own mistakes, and we ask for impossible things without having an iota of patience.
These people make games for us and often we just destroy them. Yes, of course we pay for the games but every service in the world makes money off of us and these people chose to make games for a living. Can we just try to cut them some slack. Try to be as open-minded as we want them to be. Can we try to have fun without feeling like we’re entitled to have every game in existence tailor-made for us?
Having fun. Sharing in our passion across games, devices, boundaries, and boarders. That’s what it’s all about— can we get back to that, please?
Just to be clear: Open World Games, the channel housing the video I linked, is generally a great channel. I often use it for quick, informative breakdowns of stories and they're usually quite emblematic of the community's consensus in such matters-- this time it just happened to be representative of what I consider a problem. And for the reddit post, I'm not saying that specific user is the heart of the problem. Many of their points are actually reasonable and at the very least, time-consuming and effortful. But some of their points are exemplary of what I'm talking about and if you peruse the forum you'll find more examples.