Anthem, Bioware’s attempt at a perpetually online looter-shooter, launched in 2019 to a largely damp reception. A disjointed narrative, horrendous load times, a startling disparity between advertised product and final product, and an empty end game prevented the ‘Destiny Killer’ from hitting the potential that it so clearly possessed. After two years of incremental changes and work on an apparent ‘Anthem 2.0’, Jason Schreier reported on February 8th, over at Bloomberg, that EA would be holding a meeting that week to decide whether Bioware and Anthem would get the support they needed to make Anthem 2.0 a reality.
The months following the launch of Anthem saw Bioware staff leave, the Anthem team shrink while developers shifted over the Dragon Age 4 and presumably Mass Effect Legendary Edition. I was one of many who purchased Anthem at launch and, despite putting over 100 hours into it, the criticisms levied at the third person shooter were warranted. But the core gameplay was actually pretty great (assuming you didn’t receive lag, as many did), the main narrative was arguably better than any competing product (not a high bar, but still), and the production quality was clearly there.
Perhaps this is why #IBelieveInAnthem has become a thing. Shortly after the published piece from Jason Schreier went live, posts on the Anthem subreddit, and Twitter, quickly started donning the #IBelieveInAnthem tag as a show of support for the small team still working on the game. Most immediately, posts like “If you want to save Anthem, now is the time to PLAY Anthem” went live almost immediately, outlining that spikes of players might just persuade EA and Bioware that there’s something here.
Obviously, stuff like this won’t change the outcome of the meeting. The Anthem community is understandably pretty small these days, after months of inactivity in terms of content. That’s not to say there’s not something worth saving though. Anthem has fully fleshed out lore and backstory, memorable characters, an excellent combat system, and a truly beautiful world that’s fun to explore (at least until you realize it’s a bit empty).
Obviously the general gaming community feels the same way, because after the initial wave of posts like the one above, #IBelieveInAnthem posts started appearing. Appearing on Twitter as well, long terms fans and content creators surrounding the game raised awareness.
Clips of the game’s pretty strong combat system started cycling around, along with shots of Anthem’s world, creatures, and armour.
Not long after that members of other gaming communities joined in, sharing material from their games with the hashtag in a show of support from their community of choice. Halo, Destiny, Fallout, For Honor, you name a PvP centric game and likely someone from the community has voiced support for Anthem.
As of right now, it’s been a week since the news that EA and Bioware would review ‘Anthem 2.0’, and we’ve heard nothing since. It’s well documented now that Anthem wasn’t a commercial success for Bioware or EA, with the game failing to meet both unit sales and microtransaction sales expectations.
Whether EA and Bioware can see any potential in the looter shooter moving forward is up in the air. The area is hotly contested with games like Destiny, World of Warcraft, Borderlands, and the recently revived Division 2 in the foreground, new games have a hard time getting their claws stuck in.
Anthem shot itself in the foot out of the gate, that much is inarguable, but as far as my own opinion stands I think Anthem has a shot at being something great. As I said at the beginning of this article, the core gameplay loop is some of the best I’ve experienced. It was full of holes, sure, but fun as anything. I put 105 hours into Bioware’s creation, not because of content, but because of fun. Fun is something that I found aplenty in Anthem, and I’m aware that’s an unpopular opinion but I simply enjoyed flying and shooting my way around the world.
According to Jason Schreier, Bioware employees appreciate the outcry of support for the looter-shooter, as you can see here.
Of course, the acknowledgement doesn’t mean much regarding the survival of Anthem but at least the #IBelieveInAnthem message is being heard. Indeed the r/AnthemTheGame subreddit has never been so active.
See what I mean? It’s all rather lovely isn’t it. Even if Anthem ISN’T continued, and instead left to the history books, I’ll consider it my privilege to see the various communities band together like this.