Anthem Closed Beta Preview – A Buggy Beauty

The Anthem Closed Beta was previewed on PC, but was also available on Xbox One and PS4.

Bioware has touched the lives of many gamers. Through their hugely popular Mass Effect trilogy, to the equally revered Dragon Age series, the company is a behemoth of game development and as such are held to extremely high standards by not only their die-hard fans, but also the wider gaming community. When Anthem was first announced way back in 2014, many fans were skeptical, not knowing what to expect. As time has gone by, we’ve learned that the game is an Online, Action Role Playing, Third Person Shooter. That’s a mouthful, I wonder if it’ll get a new acronym? OARPTPS! Oooooh doesn’t that just flow off the tongue?

Anyway, the Anthem Closed Beta ran from January 26-27 for those who had pre-ordered the title, as well as subscribers to the EA Access and Origin Access services. If you don’t live under a rock, you may be aware of the various bugs that were rife in the Beta. But I want to make a few things clear. It’s a Beta. It’s unfinished, sure it’s annoying and sure we see some Betas that are damn near perfect, but that doesn’t mean Bioware is doing a bad job. Also, if you’re not happy playing a game that will undoubtedly contain bugs, then wait for the full release. If that’s broken, feel free to complain then. Also also, I loved the Anthem Beta. Despite the bugs and despite the numerous restarts to actually play the game I had an absolute joy playing and I can’t wait for the Open Beta to start again Feb 01 to climb back into my Javelin, and get back into battle.

What was good

The game looks stunning, whilst the optimisation needs some work, it looks incredible overall, the beautiful sceneries, extreme details on the javelins, and the variety of enemies made Anthem that much better to play. Shooting, flying, melees, and general combat and exploration felt really good. Everything flowed well and felt well attuned to both keyboard and controller, though I much preferred the controller approach. The glimpse into the story that I got, before it froze at the same point every time was awesome and made me want to keep playing. Customisation of the Javelins looks like it’s going to be awesome, and I look forward to seeing what comes in the full release.

What was bad

Needless to say again, the bugs went from minor nuisances to game breaking. Multiple infinite loading instances, a glitch in the main hub where I could hear the same noise repeated for a few minutes rapidly fast, glitches with controls not responding, artifact clipping, textures not loading, and more. It was annoying, but the overall game was well worth the patience and some googling to figure out workarounds.

The main hub, feels like an afterthought when compared to the expeditions and the worlds you explore. The worlds look current gen, whilst the hub looks like it belongs on the last generation of consoles. It’s not ugly, but it’s not up to the standard of the rest of the game.

Something that frustrated me was the fact that the servers are suspected to be the blame of what is causing some of the worst bugs. Back in December I was lucky enough to touch base with some people from the team behind Anthem. One of my main concerns was whether the servers could handle the load of so many players who were undoubtedly going to be playing the hell out of this game. I was assured that they were prepared for this, and that there wouldn’t be any issues. I understand that these things happen, but it still disappoints me.

Overall

I haven’t been hyped for Anthem, I don’t typically play many games these days, and so I wait for someone on the team to tell me if they’re good. But Robbie assured me that it was going to be worth it, so I took the plunge. It was well worth it. This is a game I could see myself putting countless hours into. The gunplay, controls, visuals, and everything else combined make for one stunning experience. I just hope Bioware can iron out the bugs and deliver a game we all want, and now, I need.

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