Anthem’s been something of an odd enigma within the gaming space. Once a massively hyped live-service game that was supposed to compete with the likes of Destiny, its development and subsequent release was plagued with issues, ultimately coming out underwhelming and half-baked, lacking the kind of engaging endgame that it once promised. BioWare’s made halfhearted attempts to fix it in the almost year since it came out, but nothing has helped it recover from the messy launch period. BioWare has even been shedding some of its most notable studio leadership in that time, and many alleged that the writing was on the wall for Anthem, despite ongoing updates.
Reports now say that despite outward appearances suggesting otherwise, BioWare is hunkered down, hard at work on “Anthem 2.0” or “Anthem Next;” essentially a complete overhaul and relaunch of the game. Kotaku’s Jason Schreier cites three anonymous sources familiar with BioWare and EA’s plans for Anthem, much of which remains nebulous. There are no launch timelines or even plans on if this will come as one massive update or multiple smaller once. We can easily look to other games for inspiration here though. Titles like No Man’s Sky and even Anthem’s own competitor, Destiny, have undergone both large updates that effectively “relaunched” the games, while also having smaller updates and improvements along the way. Some considerations say that this “Anthem Next” could be an entirely new game to help shed the shackles of Anthem’s original launch. Don’t worry, current Anthem owners wouldn’t be charged full price for the new game if that were the case.
One of Schreier’s sources went on the record saying, “We spent a few months just tearing it down and figuring out what needed to change fundamentally (a lot). And we’ve been rebuilding for another few months since.” This rebuild is in addition to ongoing in-game seasons and events that are still being added for the players who remain, including some Mass Effect-styled armor that was added for N7 day.
While many simply see any ongoing updates to Anthem as “life-support” for a game that’s essentially dead, Schreier’s reports allege that BioWare is keen on completely overhauling “the loot, the quests, the social aspects of the game, the difficulty, the progression system, and the world map.” The game’s entire bones could change from a single continuous world to more segmented areas. Schreier’s source said, “We’re also looking at breaking up the need to go back to [Fort Tarsis] after every mission, and what a mission technically is. That was always a weird disconnect. [We’re] trying to integrate the disparate parts of the game together.” It’s true that Anthem was once hyped and there’s a competent idea for a game buried under a mess of design decisions that don’t mesh well.
Don’t get too excited just yet though. The relaunch is happening anytime soon if another source is to be believed. Things are still being tested and experimented with, and “nothing concrete” at this point. Schreier speculates that the general idea of the Anthem franchise won’t change, but rather there will be an overhaul of the gameplay systems that players and critics alike have said simply don’t work and aren’t engaging.
Development of Anthem Next is being handled by members of the studio at both the Edmonton and Austin BioWare offices, though BioWare is also still hard at work on Dragon Age 4, as well as a new Mass Effect game under Mike Gamble at the Edmonton office, a title that hasn’t been officially announced, but was made plenty clear on this year’s N7 day.