BioWare’s Anthem Needs a Whole Lot of Work

BioWare’s Anthem Needs a Whole Lot of Work

It’s been a decade since BioWare launched a new franchise, and not from lack of trying. Shadow Realms was announced and canceled quickly, important staff came and went repeatedly, and Anthem took the better part of the 2010s to ship. But after all of those complications, a brand new BioWare game is finally ready for prime time. Now comes the big question: Does it hold up to the likes of Dragon Age and Mass Effect?

James Duggan, the reviewer at our sister site IGN, gave the game an Okay score of 6.5/10 – at least in its current state. The quest design, balance, story-telling, and overall stability keep the game from hitting on all cylinders. However, the core combat and the variety of exosuits are worthy of praise. There’s a fair bit of fun to be had, but it needs a lot of work to smooth out the inconsistencies.

Metacritic counts 52 reviews of the PC version with an average score of 60/100. At the low end of the scale, The Guardian saw fit to rate it a mere 2/5. The problematic pacing, the heavy borrowing of Destiny’s structure, and the lackluster gameplay loop left the reviewer with a bad taste in his mouth.

The highest score was a 80/100 at GamingTrend. Unfortunately, even a relatively rosy review like this comes with a lot of caveats regarding the user interface, load times, and a certain level of monotony inherent in this kind of game.

I’ve spent over a dozen hours playing with the casting-focused Storm Javelin, and I have mixed feelings on my experience. The non-player characters fall flat, the dialogue options are barely there, and the one-on-one conversations have the feel of 90s-era FMV games. As a long-time BioWare fan, those failures cut deep. It does benefit from being the prettiest and best-feeling game from this studio, but the absences and missteps mostly outweigh those improvements.

Worst of all, the bugs can quickly burn through your reserve of patience. Anthem has crashed to the PS4’s main menu multiple times already, and once it even hard-crashed the console. Add in some truly wonky server issues, and players are in for some serious frustration as it stands.

Some early builds of the game were particularly rough in terms of performance, but DigitalFoundry has found that the patched game runs better. Sadly, the 30fps target is still hard to maintain on the Xbox consoles – especially on the low-end models. With the Xbox One S hovering around 900p and the Xbox One X hitting 2160p, it’s not difficult to bring the game down into the 20s.

The PS4 Pro seems to run mostly at 1800p, but that lower resolution achieves a slightly more consistent performance than the X at 4K. The stock PS4 also sticks closely to 30fps, but DigitalFoundry actually recommends manually dropping the PS4 Pro into 1080p mode for the smoothest console experience. Personally? I don’t think the fidelity tradeoff is worth it if you’re using a 4K set. Full HD players will definitely want to forgo supersampling though.

On the PC, the game is very demanding. For those with a middle of the road graphics card, getting a solid 60fps can be a real challenge. And if you hoped 2160p30 would be easy to achieve, you’re in for some disappointment. DigitalFoundry recommends a fairly pricey RX Vega 56 for mostly solid 1080p60 performance, but it’s still not perfect. Unless you have a very powerful gaming PC, you’ll need to make some compromises.

Continue reading

How to Be a Task Manager Wizard, According to the Guy Who Wrote It
How to Be a Task Manager Wizard, According to the Guy Who Wrote It

The author of the original Windows Task Manager has some tips on how to use it more effectively, including a few we'd never heard of — and one we tossed in ourselves if you have trouble with Task Manager getting stuck behind fullscreen-stealing windows.

Signia Active Hearing Aids Review: For People Who Love Earbuds
Signia Active Hearing Aids Review: For People Who Love Earbuds

For many people, the idea of wearing hearing aids comes with a stigma, even if it would benefit them. So hearing aid companies have been working on new form factors to try and make that less of an issue. We review one of the latest, the earbud-shaped Active Pro model from Signia.

Who Is Windows 11 For?
Who Is Windows 11 For?

Who, exactly, is supposed to want to use Windows 11? Microsoft certainly doesn't seem to know.

Event Horizon: A Q&A With the EHT Scientists Who Captured Images of Sagittarius A*
Event Horizon: A Q&A With the EHT Scientists Who Captured Images of Sagittarius A*

We sat down with the experts who captured the first images of Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), the black hole at the core of our galaxy. Here's what we learned.