'Anthem' Reviews: Day 1 Patch Notes Vastly Improve the Demos We All Played
BioWare’s Anthem is in the midst of an odd, staggered release schedule, having been made available to Origin Access Premiere gamers on PC on February 15 — but Xbox One users got a 10-hour preview and they get the full game when PlayStation 4 players get it on February 22. A massive Day One patch for Anthem is coming that same day, and it’s just the beginning of BioWare’s ongoing efforts to improve the game for fans.
Essentially, that means anyone who’s playing Anthem early is getting a version of the game that might be only slightly better than what everyone played in the two preview demo weekends over the last month. As such, many Anthem reviews have been mixed, at best.
For Euro Gamer, Martin Robinson called Anthem “fascinating and flawed.” Sam Loveridge, for Games Radar, wrote that “there are occasional glimpses of what could make Anthem great.” It’s almost a shame that a game like Anthem gets so many negative reviews this early, each of them looking at what the game is right now rather than what it will be.
That’s the real problem with developing a live service game like this: fans expect a lot and sometimes forget that the experience is meant to evolve over time into something better. Especially when reviews are based on an unpolished version of the game, that can really skew public opinion.
Anthem draws an endless litany of comparisons to Bungie’s Destiny. Day One Destiny players will remember that at launch, the game was pretty terrible, albeit addictive. It took months for Bungie to really find it’s footing. So the players that came to it late actually got the best experience.
The interesting phenomenon here is that Anthem is essentially the ante-Fortnite. Whereas Epic Games delivered a polished battle royale game that is forever stuck in a fake “early access” period and thriving, Anthem is a AAA title that’s about to go live as a full release that will feel more like it’s in an early access period than Fortnite ever did.
So what does the massive Day One patch entail? And is it paving the way towards a better Anthem?
Anthem’s publisher EA shared detailed Day One patch notes in a private email to press on Monday, and the notes appeared on Reddit shortly thereafter. (BioWare has since actively commented on the Reddit thread.)
Several of the fixes marked “high level” address the biggest complaints so far, improving loading times and preventing game crashes. 29 items marked “general fixes and improvements” address direct bugs, like how downed players weren’t receiving loot or various places where players might get stuck in the environment.
An entire section is devoted to “Strongholds,” the Anthem equivalent of Destiny Strikes. They’re longer missions through which players can farm loot to improve their character. Many of these fixes address environmental issues or glitches about saving player progress in a Stronghold. Because these are the bread and butter of the Anthem grind, ongoing attention to fixing Strongholds will probably be a major priority.
There are also some predictable balancing adjustments for the Javelins themselves. Colossus Javelins can now activate their shield faster after using an ability for firing a weapon and they can use their shield while reviving allies at the same time. This make for a huge net buff. The Interceptor’s Combo Auro also gets a power increase and a damage-over-time aspect added, another necessary buff.
The Storm Javelin now reacts to being hit when its shields are up, a necessary nerf to the most overpowered Javelin type. Similarly, there was an exploit that allowed Storm’s ultimate to be used more times than intended.
The patch notes round out with some practical quality-of-life user interface adjustments.
Almost all of these read like bugs that maybe should’ve been found in game testing and beta testing. Yet here we are, and they’re being patched for Day One. Whether it’s enough to fix the larger issues critics have with Anthem remain to be seen, but at the very least it should make for a better initial experience for players planning to jump in at launch.
Anthem’s full release goes live on February 22 on PC via Origin, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.