BioWare’s latest title, the “live service” sci-fi action game Anthem, is getting a redesign. On BioWare’s official blog, general manager Casey Hudson has announced that the company is currently in the process of working on a “longer-term redesign” of the maligned looter shooter.
“Over the coming months, we will be focusing on a longer-term redesign of the experience, specifically working to reinvent the core gameplay loop with clear goals, motivating challenges and progression with meaningful rewards – while preserving the fun of flying and fighting in a vast science-fantasy setting. And to do that properly we’ll be doing something we’d like to have done more of the first time around – giving a focused team the time to test and iterate, focusing on gameplay first.”
Originally launched on 22nd February 2019, Anthem released to near-universal criticism from long time fans of the company and press alike. Through a combination of false promises, repetitive gameplay and lacking content, Anthem stalled out the gate and its player base dwindled. BioWare’s original roadmap of content was scrapped a few months after launch, and rumours of a large scale overhaul, akin to No Man’s Sky Next, have been circling for months.
It’s difficult to see where BioWare can take the game from here. The game has suffered from a horrible reputation since the beginning, and things have only got worse since. A few months after launch Jason Schreier of Kotaku wrote a brilliant expose on the game, which revealed a culture of overwork and high stress at the once-proud Canadian company. This resulted in a significant number of people taking time off work, with some exiting from the game industry altogether. These “stress casualties,” as BioWare later called them, are reflective of modern AAA game development.
Even if the redesign can finally deliver on those original promises, it’s going to be difficult to turn things around for Anthem. What players remain are few, and attracting newcomers at this late stage will be a challenge. At this point, I think it’d be more reasonable for BioWare and it’s parent company EA to drop Anthem entirely and focus on their next project.
It’s disappointing, but this is sadly the state of modern AAA gaming.