EA and BioWare’s Anthem has had a rough go of it, between the game’s rocky development cycle to its pre- and post-launch troubles, the game is currently the punch line for all the “companies releasing unfinished games” jokes. Which is great for Fallout 76, but not for Anthem.
Now, neither game is truly without hope. As several cases from the last decade have taught us, devs and publishers can turn poor releases around with enough work. Destiny and Destiny 2 had rough launch windows, but were able to turn their fanbase around with later content expansions. No Man’s Sky got a slew of patches over several years which allowed the game to finally make good on most of its promises. Hello Games continues to patch No Man’s Sky to fulfill their initial vision. And, my favorite and most extreme example, Final Fantasy XIV literally imploded itself to begin anew, and it has seen two major expansions since, with a third on the way.
Which means there is hope for Anthem. Provided EA and BioWare are willing to put in the work.
Forbes‘ Paul Tassi has one theory on how Anthem can be re-worked:
I do not believe that EA or BioWare has given up on Anthem the way they did with Andromeda so early. BioWare is hiring more positions to bolster work on Anthem and we’ve heard nothing concrete about EA’s wrath about the game or drastic steps like shuttering work on it.
Similarly, I do not think it is realistic or necessary for Anthem to go Realm Reborn and essentially start over. Given how troubled production was on Anthem, a complete re-do is certainly not going to be in the cards, and there is actually a lot of good stuff at Anthem’s core that would be a waste to throw out completely.
Rather, I’m a fan of the third option, the No Man’s Sky.
No Man’s Sky has gone from being an industry joke to one of the most impressive comeback stories in the industry. The original game launched half-formed and full of broken promises, but what did Hello Games do? What do they continue to do? They put their heads down and offered not just patches and fixes, but a series of large, free updates that have slowly transformed the game into what players wanted it to be in the first place, whether that’s unique planets and discoveries, multiplayer, new vehicles and quests and all other manner of additions.
Given that Tassi’s Destiny coverage for Forbes is well known, its interesting he completely ignores the Bungie approach to fixing Anthem’s problems. After all, both games are sci-fi co-op shooters with super-powered abilities and even similar suits of armor. However, the Destiny fix isn’t exactly working as well with Destiny 2 as it did with the original. Despite the popularity of Forsaken, it did not reach the same fervent heights as The Taken King.
But given Anthem’s original post-launch support cycle, the Destiny model seems to adhere much closer to BioWare’s initial plans. Which might make it the more attractive option. Especially as BioWare brings in new talent to pour into the game.
But the ultimate deciding factor is what’s broken with Anthem, and that isn’t the same as what went wrong with No Man’s Sky or even with Destiny. There’s a good game in BioWare’s co-op shooter, its just buried under a broken engine. Which may require a fix more akin to FFXIV’s ground-up makeover.