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Anthem Is Still Pretty

Illustration for article titled iAnthem/i Is Still Pretty
Screenshot: Kotaku (Anthem)

It’s felt like years since I last thought about Anthem, but following the game’s seasonal update last week I decided to pick it back up and was immediately struck by how beautiful its new wintery vistas are.

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Anthem’s Icetide event added flight time trials, a mission called Coolant Harvesting, and a new way to earn legendary gear by making offerings at old legionnaire tombs. The update also bathed the game’s whole world in snow, subtly shifting the entire mood of roaming around searching for things to do in its freeplay mode.

Anthem still feels bereft of content or an interesting end game to make grinding for loot worth it, but its lakes, forests, and mountain ranges have never looked prettier:

Illustration for article titled iAnthem/i Is Still Pretty
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Illustration for article titled iAnthem/i Is Still Pretty
Illustration for article titled iAnthem/i Is Still Pretty
Illustration for article titled iAnthem/i Is Still Pretty
Illustration for article titled iAnthem/i Is Still Pretty
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Illustration for article titled iAnthem/i Is Still Pretty
Illustration for article titled iAnthem/i Is Still Pretty
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At a distance its backgrounds are sweeping and bold, reminiscent of the sort of concept art that makes it seem like the game it’s for will contain anything and everything your mind can imagine. I’d say Anthem’s snowy landscapes worthy of a Thomas Kinkade greeting card, but that feels like it would be doing them a disservice.

Illustration for article titled iAnthem/i Is Still Pretty
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Illustration for article titled iAnthem/i Is Still Pretty
Illustration for article titled iAnthem/i Is Still Pretty
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Walking along a river and seeing the red leaves of an alien oak burst out through the whiteness puts nature, its wonder, and its simple charms at the center of another otherwise empty game. The world’s many stone ruins, artifacts of bygone eras when humanity was more than just an outpost of freelancers killing the same enemies over and over until one of them left something sparkly behind, look more at home under the occasional snow drift. While they looked striking even in the game’s lush and verdant summer, it was hard not to be distracted by the fact that they didn’t seem to be used for anything important. Now at least they feel a part of something, even if that something is the world collectively going into hibernation.

Illustration for article titled iAnthem/i Is Still Pretty
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I’m still hopeful Anthem’s many ruins will have a chance to have their stories told through missions and character relationships rather than lore collectibles. If BioWare manages to deliver on the second go around with Anthem 2.0, that hope might someday be vindicated. For now there’s the allure and mystery of its seasonal winter wonderland.

Kotaku staff writer. You can reach him at ethan.gach@kotaku.com

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DISCUSSION

thisnameisanalias
ThisNameIsAnAlias

It is great to fly around in anthem... for the 10 seconds you can fly until your jets burn out and you have to recharge them... Content dearth aside, the second biggest sin they commited with this game is that they gave you an iron man suit to fly in, then limited it’s flight capabilities to an arbitrary and absurd degree.

I want to know who at BioWare thought it was a good idea to take the one unique and great thing about their game and shit all over it by arbitrarily limiting the player’s access to said thing to the point that what should have been an awesome experience of jetting around as a faux-Tony Stark turned into an experience of frustration as you are forced to ground and cool your jets every 10-20 seconds... They literally took the one thing that set this game apart from the likes of Destiny 2 et al and made it one of the most frustrating parts of the game. I will never understand that decision.

The lore is interesting, the art direction is beautiful, and the story\characters are engaging imho, but that is all gimped by the haphazard slapping together of obviously disparate gameplay elements and the limiting of those gameplay elements for no discernable reason.