Tips for Playing Anthem – 9 Things the Game Doesn’t Tell You

Anthem is officially out today! Well, technically it’s been out for like a week. In fact, I’ve been playing since last Friday (and beat it over the long weekend). And my 20-some hours have left me with a number of helpful Anthem tips that I’d like to pass on to you, dear reader, now that you can play on your hardware of choice.

You might seriously need them, too. Anthem does quite a poor job of explaining its most intricate systems. Some, like the combo feature mentioned in my first section, aren’t addressed at any point in the main campaign. And loading screen tips just won’t cut it in a game as complex as Anthem can be. So let’s take a look at what the game doesn’t tell you!

1. Different Javelins Have Different Combos

Combos are a big and deeply under-explained part of combat in Anthem. Here’s the basic rundown: some skills “prime” enemies — afflicting them with a red status effect icon above their heads. Other skills “detonate” those affected enemies. For a more granular explanation, check out our Anthem combo guide.

Before that, though, you should know that Anthem combos don’t just trigger extra damage. Every one of them comes with a special effect dictated by your chosen Javelin. Here’s another basic breakdown of what each one provides — and when you should use them.

  • Ranger – Does more bonus damage to a single target than any other Javelin combo. This is perfect for burning down bosses.
  • Storm – Generates an explosion that spreads the primed target’s elemental status effect to other nearby enemies. Its usefulness depends on the enemies and what kind of element you triggered. However, you always want to use it on groups of foes.
  • Colossus – Triggers an explosion that does raw damage to enemies near the detonated target. It’s a generally useful combo bonus for large groups of enemies.
  • Interceptor – The Interceptor begins emitting an “aura” for several seconds. This does damage over time and applies the combo status effect to enemies near the Javelin. This complements the Interceptor’s melee attacks quite nicely.

2. Different Kinds of Water Affect You Differently

Water plays a big role in Anthem. It allows you to keep your Javelin flying much longer than usual — sometimes indefinitely, under the right circumstances. That’s why it’s so important to understand how different kinds of water affect you.

Most notably, flying up to or inside of a waterfall will completely zero out your Javelin heat gauge. Not only that, but it will keep you from accruing any more heat at all for several seconds. Done correctly, you can often chain yourself from waterfall to waterfall without ever needing to land. Large bodies of water, where you can submerge your Javelin completely and swim for several seconds, have the exact same effect.

But smaller bodies of water help, too. You can’t swim in streams, ponds, bogs, and other shallow bodies of water in Anthem. You can, however, skim them by flying low to the ground. Doing so will turn your heat gauge light blue. In this state, you’ll accrue heat half as fast as usual. Flying in rain — a randomly occurring weather pattern in Anthem — has the exact same effect. But get this: if you skim low bodies of water while it’s raining, it cancels out your heat altogether. So you can keep flying forever as long as there’s water above and below!

Anthem Gear

3. Loot Drops Are Javelin-Specific… Kinda

A lot of Anthem gear doesn’t transfer from one type of Javelin to another. You can’t strap a Storm seal on a Colossus, for instance. And since gear drops are determined by whatever Javelin you use on a mission (e.g. beating a mission as an Interceptor won’t award Ranger gear), you can easily level one class past the others by neglecting them.

However, there are a few exceptions. Weapons are largely interchangeable between Javelins. Only the Colossus can use Autocannons and Grenade Launchers, while it can’t use pistols, but that’s about it. The Component class of gear, which is shared by all Javelins, also includes many “universal” items. This sub-category of Components is usable by all your suits, regardless of their size.

4. Talking Earns Reputation

Fort Tarsis is your “story area.” You won’t meet any other players there. Nor will you be kicked for inactivity (as far as I can tell) if you stay idle. It’s a great place to just take a break between missions! But Fort Tarsis is also a great place to meet NPCs — most of whom have their own unique, ongoing stories to unearth.

It’s more than just a matter of exposition, too. Chatting with the inhabitants of your home base comes with more tangible rewards. Namely, you get reputation with the three major Anthem factions — the Freelancers, Sentinels, and Arcanists — for stopping to chew the fat. Raising reputation unlocks new crafting blueprints and changes the look of Fort Tarsis. In fact, one or two of the NPC conversations result in visual changes to the place, too. So it’s well worth conversing with your neighbors.

Anthem Day One Patch 3

5. Colossus Shields Are Amazing

This one might be due to personal preference, but… I really like the Colossus. Its shield ability, in particular, feels like one of the most unique and versatile features in Anthem. Although you do sacrifice normal, regenerating shields, as well as the ability to dodge, for the privilege to play with this amazing tool.

The Colossus shield can: block enemy attacks (including those ultra annoying Titan shockwaves), remain in place while you resurrect teammates, and, crucially, automatically bash through enemies when you raise it while sprinting — like a super-heated freight train through butter. Granted, every Javelin has unique traits. But this one feels the most versatile at launch.

6. Gear Inscriptions Stack Additively

You might not know what a “gear inscription” is in Anthem at first. But to be clear, it’s the little bonus attribute you get on guns and abilities — like “+8 percent shotgun damage” or what have you. While inscriptions aren’t exactly flashy, they are important. Most of the differences between loot drops ultimately boil down to various inscriptions.

Anthem shows you the numbers on these important variables, but it doesn’t specify how they interact. Thankfully, I can report that gear inscriptions stack additively. For example, “a +10 percent ammo for all weapons” inscription on one piece of gear, along with “+20 percent ammo for all weapons” on another, would result in a net gain of +30 percent ammo. There don’t appear to be any penalties for stacking as many of your favorite inscriptions as possible!

Anthem Storm Javelin

7. Weapon Blueprints Are Tied to In-Game Challenges

You literally cannot buy weapons or gear in Anthem. As such, every new piece of equipment requires you to either A) find it in the world, or B) craft it yourself. Crafting is, in turn, the only way to guarantee you’ll get a certain kind of gear (even if it doesn’t have the inscriptions you want). So “rolling” for gear over and over again requires getting all the blueprints you can.

You unlock many blueprints from ranking up with the various factions (see the section on reputation above). Weapon blueprints, however, are strangely buried in the “challenges” tab of Anthem‘s menu. At least said challenges aren’t very hard. They basically just require you to kill certain numbers of enemies with whatever gun you want to unlock. Completing the first challenge unlocks common blueprints (which come with zero inscriptions), completing the second one unlocks uncommons (one inscription), and so on. Give it a look!

8. Hard Mode is Way Better

In the early stages of Anthem, you only have access to the three basic difficulties: easy, normal, and hard. The higher difficulty level you choose, the more XP and better loot you get. But there’s another reason to play on hard, as opposed to the other two options.

Easy and even normal are incredibly mindless. You basically never have to worry about the combo system at all; enemies die from one melee hit; you’re never in any danger of dying (except maybe against a boss or two). Bumping the game up to hard forces you to think about how you fight. Whereas I just shot every enemy in the head on my first playthrough, I’ve found myself all but forced to use Storm combos to freeze waves of enemies, just to survive, on hard. Just make sure you know how the combos actually work before diving in!

Anthem Damage Resistance

9. Enemies Have Unique Damage Resistances

You’ll notice three different colors of health bar in Anthem. Red represents good old fashioned health. A blue bar above a red one indicates energy shields. And yellow health (usually seen on elite enemies) means your foe is armored. These different kinds of armor aren’t just for show, either. Each has unique elemental resistances that should be approached in different ways.

Here’s a basic breakdown of how to deal with every resistance type:

  • Fire – Does 25 percent bonus damage to armor. Does 25 percent less damage to shields.
  • Electrical – Does 50 percent bonus damage to shields. Does 25 percent less damage to armor.
  • Ice – Does 25 percent bonus damage to shields. Does 25 percent less damage to armor.
  • Acid – Does 50 percent bonus damage to armor. Does 50 percent less damage to shields.

In addition, there are a handful of special skills (like the Colossus Railgun) that “crack” shields or armor. These basically confer the damage bonus of Acid or Electrical damage, without… actually doing Acid or Electrical damage. Meanwhile the Interceptor, Anthem‘s nimble close-quarters class, ignores all damage resistances on melee strikes. This includes the “invincible” spots on Titans and those crab monsters.

And that’s all we have for Anthem tips right now! Be sure to check out the rest of our guides for more more specific information as you progress through the game. Most of all, though, try to have fun out there, Freelancer!

[Update]: We added more sections to this guide, with more tips, as new information about Anthem has begun to come to light.