According to BioWare, flight represents one aspect of Anthem that sets it apart from other shared-world shooters. Interestingly, the studio implemented flight mechanics in an effort to give players the feeling of being a superhero. Developers say this ambitious undertaking was incredibly difficult to manage.
In a recent interview with Jeux Video, members of the development team discussed just how troublesome the flight controls in Anthem were to get right. Game Director Jonathan Warner explained that flight was something the team wanted from the beginning. However, there were concerns over game-breaking consequences, especially with regards to loot and exploration boundaries.
Warner told the French website
The flight ability is extremely dangerous in a video game because players could use it to ‘break the game’, go off the limits defined by the level designers, or use it to avoid zones and thus miss an opportunity to get loot. Combat designers, level designers and motion designers all had to work together to make sure they would create a flight ability that was fun and harmless to the game.
Lead Producer Ben Irving chimed in next, confirming that there were numerous troubles. To circumvent some issues, BioWare considered “blocking flight during combat.” It didn’t take long for this idea to receive the axe. Simply put, the freedom of flight was “too cool” to end up on the cutting room floor.
Irving continued, divulging the following,
After that, we thought about enemies being unable to attack at long ranges, which created behavior where flying was making you win the fight instantly. Then we had to put some limitations on flying time to make the game work. Several iterations of enemy behavior were made with more range and more ways to put you down in order to force you to think and play more tactically.
Overall, it seems BioWare finds the many obstacles to mastering flight in Anthem well worth the effort. Again, these mechanics are what help set it apart from the competition. Moreover, flight offers players more agency on the battlefield, particularly where traversal is concerned.
Warner addressed flight’s significance by noting,
I think that flight is one of the big things that set us apart because it allows us to think the world in a different way. Instead of considering the space as a flat surface we consider it a volume in which you can freely move. The game becomes more interesting at every moment, you are constantly making small decisions like ‘Where do I fly? How do I go there?’
BioWare Shares the Difficulty of Developing Anthem Flight Controls
On January 25, 2019, a VIP demo for Anthem will go live. A week later, on February 1st, BioWare plans to launch a public demo. Anthem will hit store shelves as a full experience on February 22nd for the PlayStation 4, PC, and Xbox One. Those interested in Anthem have a livestream on January 17th to look forward to, which will detail a “few new things” about the upcoming title.