Anthem and industry trends

I read over at Inventory Full about Bhagpuss’ reasons for not trying Anthem, Bioware’s answer to the MMOFPS sub-genre. In Anthem you play a battle-suit wearing hero flying and diving around zones to complete missions, mostly in a small team. Sound familiar? It should do, Destiny (1 & 2) and Warframe both have already popularised this gameplay style over the last few years – story light missions that have you slaying hordes of enemies with guns, grenades and flashy ‘ultimate’ powers.

Destiny 2 has some pretty dramatic and varied locales

For a few weeks now I’ve been playing trio sessions of Destiny 2, we got the game for free as a give-away via Battle.Net a while back and have enjoyed it enough to buy the Forsaken DLC to unlock all the expansions thus far released. The game is very slick, although it’s not by Blizzard, the stellar graphics and slick gun and run gameplay make me think it is a Blizzard game. I played Warframe last Autumn for a few weeks and that game may have deeper customisation but I found the control scheme much harder to get into.

It wouldn’t be a MMO without mandatory-solo instances.

So unlike Bhagpuss, if I read his post correctly, my mostly positive history of playing multiplayer FPS games should place me closer to the ideal target audience for Bioware’s game. Yet I do not find myself at all interested in Anthem. Regardless of the varied reactions and frenzied attention its receiving in the blogosphere and streaming community, I’ll pass on it. We have a lot of content to play in Destiny 2, so I’m not in the market for starting yet another shooter game.

So pretty

I add my own concerns to the trend Bhagpuss’ post also addresses – if games like Anthem do really well, then maybe attention and money will be further diverted away from MMORPGs. I’m not enough of an industry pundit to offer a particularly informed view, but I would be greatly saddened if story-rich MMORPGs dwindle because of the rise of Anthem and similar games (or equally other sub-genres like Age of Conan or Fortnite).

Another voiceless character…

The story in Destiny 2 is well told, and quite entertaining, but it really hasn’t taken us long to reach the first expansion, and that seems even shallower story-wise. For a game built around repeatable daily quest style content and a lot of gear grind I guess this is fair enough. I find myself harking back to story-rich worlds to explore with characters that I can create with a rich palette of choices and that I can customise as they grow in experience. I will play Destiny 2 through as it’s an easy jump in game for our trio, but for my own gaming time I’ll continue to spend it in more expansive worlds. Long may they continue!

Keep doing this please Bioware

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4 Responses to Anthem and industry trends

  1. Isey says:

    Destiny does a lot right but I can’t stand the story. You are literally an indestructible zombie. Even the Zavala trailer for D2 shows him repeatedly dying, rising, and getting revenge. I mean, c’mon. Even bad guys should know that you burn the corpse, dismember it, ANYTHING. Don’t shoot it once and walk away knowing it will just rise again and come slaughter you in 30 seconds.

    It’s that narrative disconnect that I can’t stomach and have been looking for a looter shooter to replace Destiny 1/2 for years. I do wish Anthem was FPS instead of TPS (same with Division and Warframe) because the gameplay in Destiny is fun. Guns feel good. Planets are interesting. Everytime the cut to a cutscene about how you are indestructible (or temporarily no longer indestructible, so be careful for once!) It’s cringeworthy. If you are indestructible then there is no chance of failure, which takes away any drama. You will succeed because you can’t die.

    It’s been bothering me for so long I have an unhealthy history of posting against the story of Destiny, fairly or unfairly!


  2. As I said in my comment at Inventory Full, I don’t see any correlation between a trend towards “MMO light” games and a trend away from story. Very much the opposite, actually, as such games tend to be more story-driven than the average traditional MMORPG, not less. Even Anthem, while clearly less story-focused than Bioware’s past games, looks to be much more story-driven than most old school MMORPGs I could name.

  3. bhagpuss says:

    As usual I tried to pack too much into one post. As I said at one point, the original Parent Trope post that spurred my post had enough comment hooks for a dozen posts. I wasn’t so much interested in whether Anthem is any good or not as in the inevitable fact that I will end up reading a huge amount about it. I’ve already read plenty. I’ve also read many thousands of words about Destinies 1 and 2, The Division and Warframe, the last being the only one I’ve actually played.

    Alli was very concerned that this type of game would damage the market for RPGs with strong stories and Belghast and Pete both made a very strong case for MMOLite pacing having spoiled them for old-fashioned MMORPGs. I don’t think anyone has anything much to worry about in terms of not getting any more of the particular games they like – RPGs are very strong right now and FFXIV is making a great case for some very old-school MMORPG design indeed. I do think, though, that the clear market preference for this type of MMO (without the RPG), plus the continued runaway success of Battle Royales and the ongoing marketability of Survival Games means traditional MMORPGs are very much back in their original niche for the foreseeable future.

    As for “story”, though, I have a real issue with discussing any video game storylines as though they were anything more than potboilers. I enjoy cheap thrills and melodrama as much as the next Ace Doubleback reader but in forty years of playing video games I have yet to come across a story that reaches even to the standard of middling genre filler. There was more depth of characterization and subtler inter-personal relationships in the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine series I watched on DVD last year than I’ve seen in the main storyline of any MMORPG I’ve played – and I’m certainly not holding SDMM up as a shining beacon of culture!

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