2019 has been an incredible year for video games. Hits like Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Metro Exodus, Devil May Cry 5 and more excited and impressed the gaming community, however, one game is a leading contender for the Most Disappointing Game of 2019.
Anthem immediately made headlines when it was formally announced during EA’s EA Play pre-E3 press conference in 2017. A six-minute gameplay trailer was showcased on Xbox One X at Microsoft’s E3 press conference the next day. Gamers were thrown into a frenzy, itching to get the chance to fly through the air like Iron-Man, blasting aliens and exploring a gorgeous open world. Anthem looked incredibly promising leading up to release. Originally expected to release at the end of 2018, it was delayed until early 2019. Even this delay didn’t shake everyone’s confidence in the game. When the beta became available on January 25, 2019, for pre-order customers and on February 1 to the public and caused another wave of excitement as the release neared. On February 22, 2019, Anthem finally made its way onto the main stage. It released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows. Developed by BioWare and published by EA.
Anthem had a massive team and budget behind it. Yet, even with all these big names, the release was anything but smooth. Massive log in issues, long queue times, and crashes left a poor first impression.
Beyond the server issues, which are unfortunately common in games-as-a-service / looter shooter type games like Destiny and Fallout 76, the community began to discover that Anthem was far from in-depth. Shallow is a perfect way to describe the game. The campaign was lackluster and Anthem’s end-game content was essentially non-existent upon release. End-game content can make or break games-as-a-service / looter shooter games, especially when the campaign is relatively short. Gamers were beating the game and looking forward to exploring a gorgeous world filled with alien threats to vanquish in hopes of collecting some sweet loot. Instead what they found were four Strongholds, no raid, and a sterile open world.
Development began back in 2012. That gave the studio seven years to create a worthwhile experience. Even with its early start, development hit a serious obstacle when in 2014 Casey Hudson, executive producer for the original Mass Effect trilogy left BioWare. Hudson’s departure concerned many on the Anthem team since his leadership proved extremely valuable in the past. Anthem began to face issues when the team attempted to expand the game which hindered multiple aspects of its development. For a year, Dragon Age’s writer David Gaider joined the Anthem team to flesh out the story. Gaider began shifting the focus toward a story more reminiscent of Mass Effect and Dragon Age. Initially, the Anthem team wanted to move away from what the audience expected from a BioWare game. Gaider left BioWare in 2016 and the development team backtracked to their original story concept, adding yet another setback to Anthem’s progression.
Anthem tops the list as the most disappointing game of 2019. From all the promises leading up to its release and all the exciting gameplay shown off, Anthem missed the mark in a big way. Countless setbacks during development and a shaky vision for the game from the start lead to a disappointing experience. BioWare is continuing to support Anthem three months after its release. EA’s vice president, Patrick Soderlund was quoted saying Anthem’s launch could be “the start of maybe a 10-year journey” for BioWare. This is similar to Bungie’s claim when they released Destiny, a game that didn’t even come close to reaching their 10-year goal. There’s no telling how long BioWare will support Anthem or if they make up all the lost ground resulting from such a disappointing release.