Book reviews, art, gaming, Objectivism and thoughts on other topics as they occur.

Mar 3, 2019

Anthem Fixes

I'm not really sure this would be enough to "fix" the game--there's still a lot that's really mediocre and uninteresting about how it is put together.  But these would be major improvements that would probably get me playing it again (yes, I've basically stopped even though it's only been out for a little over a week).


  • Select Javelin.  The Forge area in Ft. Tarsis has FOUR Javelin loading spots.  Why is only ONE of them occupied by my CURRENT javelin?  All FOUR of my Javelins should appear on the loading area, and I should be able to pick which Javelin I want to use for my next mission by going to the Javelin I want to use.  Currently, I have to walk to the Forge, wait for the Forge to load, open the Javelins screen, click on the Javelin I want, click on the loadout I want, exit BACK  to the Forge, exit the forge, walk to the Javelin on the podium, click on it, select my mission.  This is silly.  It would be VASTLY more efficient if I could just walk up to the platform and click the Javelin I want to use, select my mission, and GO.
  • Matchmaking parameters.  Currently I have no choice whatsoever about my matchmaking parameters.  At a minimum, I should be able to choose: Level Range, Other Javelin Types and LANGUAGE.  Since this is a GLOBAL game, chances are good that even with voice chat I'm going to be in a group with three people who DON'T SPEAK ENGLISH.  Give us an account option where we can set our language so we can play with people we can actually communicate with.  I have nothing against Korean or Chinese or whatever players, I'm sure they're wonderful, but we can't communicate!
  • Enemy spam.  Few, interesting enemies are MUCH better than gobs of sad little boring enemies, especially when they magically spawn in.  Cut the NUMBER of enemies in the game and make them TOUGHER and MORE INTERESTING to fight.  (And when I say "tougher" I don't mean "give them more HP and armor".  I mean, make them more COMPLEX to fight.)
  • More Foe Types.  The game has a ridiculously tiny number of foes to fight, which isn't helped because when you're flying around at high speed the Scar, Dominion, and Outlaws look EXACTLY. THE. SAME.  So, really, there are TWO enemy types--the ones that look like people and shoot you with guns, and Skorpions.  Occasionally, a Titan with some elemental buddies.  Woo.
  • Interesting Puzzles and Missions: As a friend of mine put it, there is exactly one type of mission in Anthem: the one where you shoot all the enemies there are.  DULL.
  • Change the Tethering: If three people are still back at the mission start platform listening to the mission briefing and one person has TAKEN OFF, the one who has TAKEN OFF should tether BACK to the mission start instead of forcing everyone else to keep up with the zerging asshole.  Also, some missions will actually drop a physical wall that locks you out if you don't make it to the fight at the EXACT INSTANT that the person in front does.  This is idiotic.  The ethos should be "you're in a group, WAIT for them" not "you're in a group, so you HAVE to keep up".  And it shouldn't even give you the "catch up" warning unless you're MORE than one objective behind.  So if the group is on Objective 2, you shouldn't tether unless you're FURTHER AWAY than the Objective 1 area.  If you're between Objective 1 and Objective 2, NO TELEPORTING.
  • Less Flying between parts of the mission: Why does every mission involve you flying halfway across the map several times?  Put the parts of the mission NEAR each other.
  • Fix the Store: The Regulator store where you can buy crafting components has the worst store interface I've ever encountered in a game, ever.  You can only buy things ONE at a time and EVERY purchase involves FOUR screens.  SCREW that.  Here's how a store interface SHOULD work:  click on the item you want.  Select the number you want.  Click buy.  DONE.  Not this Click the item you want, opening a popup window, then HOLD DOWN a key to buy ONE item.  Then you get an animation, and a popup saying "you bought this item!"  THEN you have to click Exit to get back to the buy menu!  WHO came up with this nonsense?!
  • Mission Rewards: Give us a couple of options for mission rewards.  Let us choose between coin, a blueprint, a consumable, or a piece of gear, or something.
  • Getting Missions: Put all the contract boards right by the Javelins.  It's bloody tedious to walk all the way across Ft. Tarsis to get a new contract, then all the way back to start the new mission.  Every contract board should have THREE OR FOUR new missions available, not ONE AT A TIME.
  • More weapon types:  At a minimum, I want to see: Bows, Crossbows, different types of melee weapons (why does each suit only have ONE melee attack option?)  This is a quasi-fantasy setting, so why are the weapons so BORING?!
  • Underwater combat:  The underwater areas are just scenery currently.  It's dull.
  • The Storm Javelin: This suit needs a re-design.  Oh, your defenses are augmented if you're hovering OUT IN THE OPEN WHERE EVERYTHING CAN HIT YOU.  Brilliant.  No, wait, that's dumb.  Instead, they should have massively augmented defense against all ranged attacks at all times, and be correspondingly vulnerable to ALL melee attacks.  This will encourage hovering while still allowing them to maintain their mobility.  They also should NOT HAVE a melee attack.  They should have a default single-target range attack with a cooldown LIKE melee (that detonates combos), but that doesn't involve them charging into melee.  This would actually succeed in completely differentiating the four suits.  All of their "support" abilities need to have a much shorter cooldown than the support options on other suits, and they should get more support OPTIONS.
  • Cross-suit drops: Let us get gear drops for suits other than the one we're currently wearing.
  • Text chat in the Launch Bay: The inability to communicate with other players is stifling.  Yeah, I know most games the general chat channel is a cesspit.  That doesn't mean making it impossible for us to communicate AT ALL is an improvement.  You've already arranged it so that there's no economy since we can't trade gear, so why not let us at least chat with A FEW people?  The Launch Bay is bloody pointless as it stands.  It doesn't make getting out on missions any faster.  It doesn't let you meet people, since you can't TALK to them.  It's a completely useless and pointless space.  All you can do is show off your Javelin appearance and do a couple of emotes.


  • Quit hiding the lore in the Cortex. Every conversation we have with someone should tell us about the character AND some interesting detail of how the world works.  Not just their PERSONAL interests and philosophy, but how that connects back to the world.  For instance, Prospero.  All he does is have INCREDIBLY dull conversations with you about how painting your Javelin cool colors increases "shock and awe".  This is stupid.  And he talks about the same thing MULTIPLE TIMES.  You don't learn anything new.  It's just a re-worded version of the old conversation.  You know what would be INTERESTING?  If he'd revealed that, due to the fact that your Javelin is TELEPATHICALLY CONTROLLED (using Ember, which reacts to thoughts), feeling good about how you look is CRITICAL to being a Javelin pilot.  The Sentinels, for instance, all look exactly alike because it makes them feel a specific way.  Freelancers go for a bold, exciting look because how it makes them feel actually changes what they can do with their suits.  THAT would be interesting.  It would say something about the world that contains all these machines that are AFFECTED by your MIND.  And, it wouldn't be deadly dull to sit through.
  • The world is tiny. It should be the plan RIGHT NOW that you'll release TWO new cities with complete new storylines and exploration zones as big as the current one by the end of the year.  No, not new freeplay events.  ENTIRE NEW ZONES.  They should have different terrain types, different enemies, and TRIPLE the size of the game.  And all cities past Ft. Tarsis should be optional in order, so you can go wherever you like in whatever order you like.  Opening up the world to exploration should be THE top priority.
  • Quit treating us like a singular actor.  The gameplay is built around grouping up, so why in the world does the STORY treat us like we're a Lone Hero, only rarely acting in concert with a few NPC friends?  Why do the NPC's all FAWN over us and our personal amazingness instead of treating us like just one of a fairly large and diverse group?  (Or ask us, a random stranger in a discredited profession, to intervene in their personal lives.)  Strange as this may sound, the story would actually be a lot BETTER if it was MORE IMPERSONAL, because it would match the gameplay instead of fighting with it at every turn.  A few personal stories/interactions are fine, but it should be kept to the main story characters.  All other NPC's should be focused around revealing what kind of WORLD you're in instead of their irrelevant personality quirks and irrelevant personal history.
  • What is my motivation? Why should I keep playing after I hit level 30 and I've done all the story missions?  Do the same 3 strongholds a billion times?  They were barely interesting the FIRST time I did them.  Get high-level gear?  It's got the same random stats as regular gear, just more of them.  Play with my friends?  My friends don't play this game because it's boring and there's nothing to do.
  • PVP.  This game desperately needs some PVP, but, I suggest, NOT the deathmatch PVP that you have in other games.  It needs to be challenge-oriented.  Call it "training".  It should be team-based, like Capture the Flag, but you can also have other variants like, say, a race, a competitive escort mission, Tower Defense (or some kind of "survive the longest against endless spawning enemies" thing), an Easter Egg hunt (find the most Shaper Fragments), a Do the Most Combos in the Time Limit challenge, all that jazz. There's lots of cool competitive stuff you could do that wouldn't involve just dull deathmatches.
  • My Own Space: So, in Ft. Tarsis we don't even have an apartment.  Not even a BED.  Do we sleep in our Javelin?  Building and customizing player housing would be very nice, or at least something to do.
  • Mini-games.  Playing card games or dice games or SOMETHING.  The aforementioned PVP challenges.  Acquiring Titles that NPC's will recognize.
  • Make it so that we can have visible character nicknames instead of just our Origin account names.  Maybe make this something you acquire via various challenges.  A title.  I don't care. I don't appreciate you broadcasting my account username to all and sundry, and it means that most people's names are STUPID.  Being able to acquire a randomly generated visible "nickname" would be VASTLY preferable.  And it'd be something to do to roll the dice a bunch and get one you liked.
Even all this would probably not be enough to keep me playing the game constantly, but it might be enough that I'd at least come back periodically when you released a new zone and play for a week or two.

But, honestly, I kind of expect this game will be a ghost town inside of six months unless they do some seriously huge content releases.