After all the news came out that Bioware wouldn’t be continuing its planned revamp of Anthem, the RPG studio’s foray into the loot shooter genre, I felt a mix of emotions. I mostly thought it was a good idea, because Bioware’s talents are better used elsewhere, but I was kind of sad the studio’s statement on the matter implied it would be leaning on its ol’ reliables of Mass Effect and Dragon Age. It got me thinking. What better time to replay Anthem than now, where there’s no expectation of anything ever getting better?
Well, it was off to a decent enough start. I played through the game’s first mission (although, it skipped over the game’s prologue for a reason I’ve yet to determine) and remembered this game’s flight mechanics actually whip ass. The sound of TJ Ramini playing my partner in crime and, in another life, Anthem boyfriend Owen Corley in my ear gave me a weird sense of nostalgia for a game I mostly didn’t like. It felt like I was in a better headspace to play this game and give it a fair shot. Not that I figured much of my feelings on it would be that much more positive. But new context allows for new experiences, right?
But things started to get weird when I noticed areas of the environment weren’t rendering. Sizable chunks of the first level’s mountain terrain were as blurry as an early PS2 game. And it even kept up when I was at one of the mission’s pivotal scenes. A hero moment as a close up shot of an otherwise intimidating monster was made comical as it looked like a model from a Nintendo 64 demake had been plucked into an otherwise gorgeous game. It all seemed very odd. Anthem was a lot of things, but a technical mess wasn’t one of them, in my experience.
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I quickly put it all out of my mind until I reached Fort Tarsis, the home base of our unnamed Freelancer hero….where I noticed the actual ground wasn’t rendering at all. Everyone, from the shopkeepers, to the mechanics, was floating without a floor to stand on. This was wild enough, until I quickly realized that I couldn’t even walk out into the area and join my floating friends. This wasn’t a matter of walking on air as long as I believed I could like that one scene in Pixar’s Onward. Because I definitely didn’t realize that I was the sole person in Fort Tarsis who couldn’t fly. Until it was too late.
Here’s a clip of that realization:
After the news, I wanted to play through Anthem again to judge it for what it was and always will be. Minutes in, the floor of Fort Tarsis didn't render and still doesn't after subsequent reloads. I can't get off this platform. pic.twitter.com/rP9jempmh1
— Kenneth Shepard (@shepardcdr) March 1, 2021
Even after I respawned, the floor didn’t reappear. I figured my Giving Anthem a Second Chance was over, and it was all thanks to the vanishing stone that wasn’t there to support my Freelancer’s body weight. But after I shut down and restarted the game, Fort Tarsis was back to normal and I could continue my journey to give Bioware’s weird anomaly of a video game a second try. I immediately walked in and got a bunch of proper nouns said in my direction with little onboarding. So we’re off to a lovely start.
Also, shit. The load times in this game are brutal. Even playing on a PlayStation 5. Damn.
My plan is to play through the campaign again and have some holistic thoughts on Anthem as it was and as it will always be. So stay tuned to Fanbyte for that. In the meantime, be sure to check out more of our Bioware coverage as we head into the Mass Effect: Legendary Edition remasters in May.