We live in a golden age of gaming – and for a solid portion of that time, BioWare has been an important part of my gaming experience. However, since the launch of Anthem, my excitement and optimism regarding the game have slowly soured. As much as I want to enjoy the game, I just don’t anymore and I find myself returning to Destiny 2 to scratch that shooter itch. What exactly is Destiny 2 doing better than Anthem?
Guns, Guns, Guns
First, and most importantly, let’s talk about the gunplay. Each weapon in both Destiny and Destiny 2 feels unique and has character. Anthem has some really fun guns – especially if you’re a Colossus. But in the end, the variety just isn’t there. Destiny 2 is really fun to play not just because of how the guns perform in-game, but the unique tactile feedback they have via the controller. Some guns have heft, others are light and nimble – and the force feedback they communicate to you via your controller varies as well.
Guns in Anthem are kind of like what they are in the Mass Effect franchise. Don’t get me wrong, I love Mass Effect (even Andromeda), but it’s not because of the guns. In both Mass Effect and Anthem, I find a gun combo that I like, and then I’ll spend the rest of the game pursuing stronger iterations of that same gun.
While I certainly have my favorites in Destiny 2, the game often forces me out of my comfort zone to use different weapons than my usual loadout. Bounties, specific challenges, or sometimes changing load outs within an activity like a raid or strike to better suit the encounter. With Anthem, you’re locked into your loadout once you leave the Fort.
The guns aren’t the only thing that draw me back to Destiny 2 – it’s also the enemies. I appreciate that BioWare is still revisiting and revising enemies in Anthem (I’m looking at you, Titans). I don’t think it’s really fair to compare boss-level enemies between the two games – each boss requires its own strategies and suffers from some degree of sponginess. But I do want to talk about your base, grunt-level enemies.
One of my favorite things ever introduced into a videogame was when Bungie tweaked the Grunt Birthday Party skull in Halo 3 so that Spartans are rewarded for critical kills with a shower of confetti and children cheering. Laugh if you must, but that type of in-game positive reinforcement makes a player feel good and incentivizes them to shoot more efficiently.
The same can be said for enemies in Destiny. It’s very satisfying to hear the pop and hiss from the ether scaping a Fallen you just dropped with a headshot, or the explosion of Vex milk from a final blow to the juice box, or the wonderful look of panic and subsequent explosion when you ignite the fuel tank on the back of a Cabal.
In Anthem, the Scars just…die. Same with the Outlaws or the Dominion. That’s perfectly fine, but in an age where other games are doing that sort of thing better, perhaps BioWare should take notes.
Story? In Destiny?
Lastly, I’m finding that I enjoy the narrative of Destiny so much more than Anthem. While “Destiny storyline” used to be an oxymoron worthy of a good chuckle, Bungie has made great strides in making the story of the Traveler front and center. Of course, there is still plenty of lore to be found in weapon descriptions and lore books, it doesn’t feel like just because the current storyline has run out that the world has stopped. You still feel like you’re progressing the narrative through Destiny’s new seasons, through special events, and regular rotations of recurring favorites like Iron Banner.
I really enjoyed Anthem’s story. I took my time, chased down every side quest before advancing the main story, talked to every person in Fort Tarsis to help them with their problems and then it stopped. All that’s left to do right now is grind – and that’s not fun for me.
Always Be My Maybe
I understand Bioware has a whole laundry list of exciting things they want to bring to Anthem, and that their road map has had to be delayed while they focus on fixing more critical issues. The same thing happened with Pokémon Go – infrastructure problems and other major problems took over the schedule and pushed back core gameplay features like trading and peer-to-peer battles.
Anthem’s problems are just as serious. My brother suffered a bug on Day 1 that has prevented him from getting any further than the tutorial which still plagues him to this day. No amount of reinstalling, starting new characters, or interaction the EA help desk has made any difference. He’s given up and is probably never coming back. If hordes of angry gamers on Reddit are to be believed, they’ve also left for good.
Me? I’m giving Anthem a break. There are so many good games to play right now, it’s not worth dwelling on Anthem’s issues right now. I bought the game digitally, so it’ll always be there. And when BioWare is able to right the ship and solve more of Anthem’s problems, I’ll be back – because flying around like Iron Man is awesome.