Final Score: Anthem (PC, PS4, Xbox One)

It was one of the most anticipated games of 2019, but surely not everyone was disappointed with Anthem, right? We revisit the Shacknews review and pair it with reviews from all over the gaming world in this latest edition of Final Score.

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The month of February has finally come to a close. However, there was one more big blockbuster to get out the door before the month ended. It was arguably the most anticipated game of the bunch. BioWare's Anthem released to much fanfare, but was it able to live up to all of the hype?

Spoiler alert: No.

But don't take my word for it. Let's revisit the Shacknews review and put it alongside reviews from across the gaming world. We also check in with platform-specific reviews and add in their thoughts. Take a look and determine for yourself whether the critics were too harsh with this one.

Shacknews 5/10: "My biggest takeaway from Anthem is that it's yet another heavily-hyped game with a lot of promise that has a good chance of being awesome in its second year. Anthem's teases for the future, including the one that comes after defeating The Monitor, do look enticing. But I'm not looking for Anthem to be its best game in Year 2 or 3. I'm looking for Anthem to be a good experience now. And like Destiny, like No Man's Sky, like Fallout 76, like The Elder Scrolls Online, Anthem could be a great game by next year. But that doesn't make it a good game now. Right now, Anthem is not good. And given what's come out of BioWare in the past and the kinds of lasting, impactful experiences that the gaming world knows BioWare is capable of delivering, that's truly sad."
-Ozzie Mejia

IGN 6.5/10: "I've played far too many games like Anthem, an online RPG that only makes good on its promise of meaningful multiplayer gameplay and progression after you've labored through its long-winded and repetitive story quests. These pitfalls don’t have to be synonymous with shared-world shooters, MMOs, or online ARPGs, but here we are again. Anthem's endgame is surprisingly fun since its already excellent combat is reinvigorated by interesting loot and challenging gameplay later on. Unfortunately, there simply isn't enough of this kind of content to make it worth the wait, and what's here is inconsistent in terms of polish, clarity, and balance. Anthem, as it stands now, is an adventure best saved for a later date."
-James Duggan

Giant Bomb 2/5: "Despite my litany of complaints, I did have some fun zooming around in some of Anthem's grander combat situations--when everything comes together and you're flying to and fro, coordinating your tactics with your friends (which, frankly, makes any game better), you can see how good an Anthem with all of these rough edges sanded down could be. And there are a few ideas here, like creating more combat and traversal mechanics around flight, that deserve more attention than they get in the game that's on shelves right now. But Anthem needs more than just new content. A lot of work needs to be done on a wide variety of the game's fundamental elements before it can join the ranks of other redeemed loot games like Diablo III, Destiny, and The Division. Whether EA will give BioWare the latitude to overhaul the parts of the game that need it--and whether it's even technically feasible for them to do that in the first place--are questions with uncertain answers."
-Brad Shoemaker

USGamer 2.5/5: "Anthem is a frustrating experience that leaves me lost at times. I generally can guess at the reason behind certain design choices, but with Anthem I'm left asking myself "Why is it like this?" in several areas. There's a core gameplay idea that's fun, but it's not enough to keep the experience alive in endgame and beyond. Anthem is a game that fights against itself. It's focused on loot, but lacking many of the loot acquisition mechanics we've come to expect from games of this type. It wants to sell us on flying and combat, but Grandmaster levels stop that dead. It offers a wide world to explore, but offers no reason to do so, and sections off so much of its content from that open world."
-Mike Williams

PC Gamer 55/100: "Working against its own strengths is a theme in Anthem. There are so many loose threads that I'm constantly asking myself "why?" Why is there an overly-detailed mission summary screen that tallies experience points after I've reached level 30 and no longer need those points? Why do I have hundreds of crafting materials that can only be used to create weak gear I'll never need again? Why are major details of Anthem's combat never explained? Why does a loot system even exist if almost everything below Masterwork is practically the same but with slightly higher numbers?"
-Steven Messner

Xbox Achievements 65/100: "The truth of the matter is that buried somewhere beneath the poor optimisation, the endless load screens and some downright ridiculous design decisions, there exists a good game. The game looks fantastic on the high-end consoles, the score and world-building is classic BioWare, as are the characters, and the combat is top notch. It's just a shame how much shit you have to wade through to experience all that. Does the game feel rushed? Absolutely! Can Anthem eventually be a great game? Damn straight, with some tweaks and some major work done on load times, it totally can. It just isn't right now, which is a real shame."
-Dan Webb

Push Square 5/10: "Anthem feels like a beta. Despite featuring a full story campaign, the game as a whole feels stunted and unfinished. It feels tired, incohesive, and troubled. We can only assume that something went horribly wrong during its development, because it has all the hallmarks of a project that was gutted before being reworked and badly stitched back together. It's not looking good for the once great BioWare."
-Robert Ramsey

BONUS VIDEO REVIEW: Angry Joe


Anthem is available now on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. If you do decide to pick it up, be sure to check out our full guide and walkthrough.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
  • reply
    March 4, 2019 2:00 PM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Final Score: Anthem (PC, PS4, Xbox One)

    • reply
      March 4, 2019 3:07 PM

      Right, so... I'm maybe 10 hours into Anthem... not a dedicated player, I don't have a stake in the game or exist as a fanboi... but it's kind of awesome? I mean I don't know if it will last a thousand hours of dedicated endgame raider play... but as a game it's pretty great. Admittedly I did buy a new PC right before it came out with a nice 2080 gfx card. But I haven't had many crashes, load screens are a little longer than I would like but not "so long I've gouged my eyes out and need to tell the whole internet that this game is singlehandedly destroying the world!!!!!!!11111" Sure, I agree that making a game that requires a high end PC to play and not announcing that as it's minimum requirements isn't great. I tried playing it on my less awesome laptop, still no crashes, but it did look decidedly less awesome... but duh!

      It's frustrating to me that the gaming press and players can't give a game an honest assessment. Players I'll forgive, they want their games... and I expect them to loose their collective shit when everything they play isn't made of gold... but I wish I could expect more out of the press. I guess they need to cater to the opinions of the vocal minority or face the consequences. But the upshot is that there is just no way to know whether a game is legitimately trash, or if the internet is just being the internet. So my two cents: The devs put the game out too soon, probably under publisher pressure. It's bones are good, and if you have the hardware it's certainly worth playing as it stands. Possibly the internet will whine so much that it gets dropped and never becomes what it should as a ongoing title... but if that happens it won't be because of the devs, or because the game wasn't good enough. It will be because of you dear writer, and you dear readers.

      Ok, rip me a new one for not hating on the trendy hate thing ;)

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        March 4, 2019 3:54 PM

        Would you say you've been playing like a mad crazy zombie?

        (I keed I keed)

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        March 4, 2019 6:21 PM

        you can like the game and think it's awesome, probably very few would rip you a new one for having that opinion about Anthem.

        I think it's foolish to assume the press aren't giving it their honest opinion. i think it's downright silly to think that the press are actively catering to a vocal minority, and have given the "wrong" score to that end.

        have you played Destiny 1 or Destiny 2 much? Division 1 or 2? I'd be curious to know if you've played through those games for some hundreds of hours and are honestly still impressed by Anthem. Those are the major competitors in the same genre of looter shooters to be played for several years by their primary audience and fans. the primary draws for these games, i would argue, are a good loot system; finely tuned and rewarding character power progression (loot factors into this, certainly); and of course content, content, content. people need acitivities to participate in, dungeons to crawl, bigger and badder bosses to defeat, and more and more cutscenes about how their character helped save the galaxy. Anthem looks pretty, for sure. but few people buy a game simply because it looks pretty. especially when it's hyped up this much by a AAA developer, and marketing would want you to believe it's the biggest thing since Christ.

        I think you hit the nail on the head: "it's kind of awesome"; yes... kind of. it was pretty cool when i played the free demo, and i liked playing the colossus -- flame-throwering and mortaring enemies everywhere. but it was easy to see the cracks in game. it really felt like a beta that had great potential. if it had another six months or a year to go before release i'd be hyped. if it did the things that Destiny 2 does right... maybe even improved upon those areas a little, and added in the iron-man suit flying and killing and exploring big-ass zones of cool shit, then i'm fuckin' on board.

        but for $60, right now -- it's not good enough. I think the scores are an accurate reflection of that.

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        March 4, 2019 10:47 PM

        "Anyone who doesn't agree with my specific perspective just isn't being honest."

        Stop for a minute and think about what you just said, then try learning to respect differences of opinion and understand why other people might feel differently about something than you, and why that doesn't automatically make them dishonest or wrong. This post comes off as extremely childish.

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        March 5, 2019 2:25 AM

        It's a fantastic game, just unfinished with broken end game loot and gameplay. Diablo 3 recovered!

      • reply
        March 5, 2019 8:23 AM

        You're totally allowed to like a game but you are hating on others for not liking it. Also you assume if someone doesn't like it then they are lying lol.

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      March 4, 2019 4:14 PM

      69.

    • reply
      March 4, 2019 6:24 PM

      Hey Ozzie! i like this Final Score feature.

      may i suggest or ask for your and / or Shacknews' staff thoughts on what some of the other reviewers said? any specific highlights that you'd especially agree or disagree with?

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      March 4, 2019 11:16 PM

      The game looks fantastic on the high-end consoles

      ..that's a new term in my gaming vocabulary. But it totally makes sense, seeing as Sony and Microsoft seem to be adopting a far more iterative approach to console design.

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      March 4, 2019 11:31 PM

      Must be one of the most crash prone modern games i have tried , so disappointing.