I consider myself a bit of an Anthem apologist. Don’t get me wrong — the game was an undeniable mess at launch. It was confusing, barren, and a narrative nightmare. But there was a kernel of a good idea there. And as a longtime Final Fantasy XIV stan, I love a good “rise from the ashes” story. The promise of an “Anthem 2.0” sometime down the line has me somewhat glad I got the game ahead of the curve. But now, thanks to the capriciousness of alphabetical order, it’s one of the top games listed on the PSN Spring Sale. You can get Anthem for a measly $17.99 from now till at least April 15. Is it worth that price?
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Eh… Probably not. Even as an investment — a bet placed on one possible future timeline, where Anthem not only gets an A Realm Reborn treatment, but a good one — that feels hefty. Playing the original FFXIV at least gave you some neat context for the story in its relaunch. At least some people liked No Man’s Sky before its game-changing “NEXT” update. I’m not sure there’s anything so worthwhile in the existing version of Anthem.
The parts of the game that I do like have been done better elsewhere. It’s Mass Effect 3-style powered combo combat was great… in Mass Effect 3. The original Anthem basically did nothing to explain it. Even worse, it gave you next to zero places to employ it. The so-called Strongholds (e.g. dungeons or strikes) barely made it worthwhile. And there are only like three of them to this day. Some of the bugs that plagued the game at launch may be squashed, but there’s nothing new to check in on. Not in the same way other failed games seeking our reappraisal have doled out itty bitty morsels before dropping the megaton (looking at you, too, Fallout 76).
The fact that Anthem is once again on sale almost feels post-apocalyptic. Like a numbers station spitting meaningless data into the atmosphere well after humanity ceases to be, I get the sense Anthem was set to be included automatically in any major game sale. It’s the Best Buy clearance bin for the digital age. It’s not proof of life; it’s a headstone. And it just so happens to be happening right as the world feels as close to ending as it ever has.
Compare the price to some of the other games available on the Spring Sale. Yakuza 6: The Song of Life — belonging to one of the scientifically proven top 10 best game franchises of all time — is two dollars cheaper than the discounted Anthem. Fuck outta here. That’s a steal even the organized criminals of the series would balk at (not to mention Yakuza 0, the perfect jumping on point for the franchise, is currently $19.99 by default). Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, another Electronic Arts game with a much less sensible name, is exactly twice the price for 100 times the game.
I want Anthem to rise from the ashes. I think there’s a decent chance it will! But in these most uncertain of times, your money is much better spent or saved on less speculative purchases. You can find many of those purchases among the other PSN Spring Sale games listed over on the PlayStation Blog. Check ’em out!