BioWare’s Anthem may feel like a response to gaming’s perpetually shifting climate. Over the last several years, publishers have placed heavy emphasis on shared world games. The success of Destiny, The Division, and others prove such experiences are here to stay. However, according to Anthem’s Game Director, Jon Warner, BioWare’s latest project isn’t a response to anything. nor is it a departure from the studio’s formula. In fact, Anthem represents an “evolution of [BioWare’s] craft.”
During an interview with Gamesindustry.biz, Warner revealed that early production on Anthem began not too longer after Mass Effect 3’s 2012 ship date. This was years before the “current crop of social RPGs were announced or delivered.” From BioWare’s perspective, then, Anthem is the natural course of things for the team. Therefore, this particular path of a shared world shooter was inevitable.
If you look at BioWare games on a spectrum, from Baldur’s Gate to Neverwinter, and Jade Empire to Knights of the OldRepublic, to Mass Effect and Dragon Age, you’ll see that the games have always been about evolving our technique and storytelling… so the way that we look at it, Anthem is not a departure, it’s the continued evolution of our craft and our technique.
Warner continued, adding that he believes fans will see evidence of BioWare’s DNA when they play for themselves.
I think once players get their hands on it and dive in they are going to find a world that is well realised and full of rich characters that you’re going to want to get to know, and you’ll be the hero of your own story, and honestly that is the heart and soul of a BioWare experience.
But venturing into new territory will require the studio to regain the trust of fans. With many voicing their skepticism over live-service games, BioWare is doing all it can to make the experience worthwhile. To ensure consumers feel Anthem deserves their time and money, Warner said two key pillars are driving development.
One is generosity towards our players. We never ever want people to regret spending time with us, or spending money with us, and that’s something that’s really important to us as gamers and as creators.
The other one is providing experience that is engaging… being able to inhabit a BioWare-style experience over a longer period of time is something that is very interesting for us, so that sense of engagement and wonder, and trying to provide continued reasons to re-engage, is also a principal that guides us.
The core of our vision has remained steady and true. So for us inside who’ve been able to see that evolution all the way through, it’s quite a different picture from the outside in…. it’s always been true to itself and true to the vision we laid down when we set out to do it after Mass Effect 3.
Arguably, many concerns could be alleviated were BioWare to open up more. Since its announcement during E3 2017, Anthem has remained shrouded in secrecy with details only surfacing every so often. BioWare takes responsibility for the long silences, but, thankfully, additional information will emerge out of PAX West, which begins August 31, 2018.
Anthem hits store shelves early next year, as it will make its debut on February 22, 2019.