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Anthem‘s reboot, dubbed Anthem Next, is no more. BioWare made the announcement in a blog post today.
Anthem debuted February 22, 2019, almost two years ago. The ambitious BioWare multiplayer cooperative shooter soon met criticism for its lack of content and technical issues. BioWare released a series of updates and announced a major rework, Anthem Next, that would try to reimagine the title into a more satisfying experience (à la what Square Enix had done with Final Fantasy XIV).
That will no longer be happening.
“Game development is hard,” BioWare executive producer Christian Dailey writes in the announcement. “Decisions like these are not easy. Moving forward, we need to laser focus our efforts as a studio and strengthen the next Dragon Age, and Mass Effect titles while continuing to provide quality updates to Star Wars: The Old Republic.”
Mass Effect and Dragon Age are beloved franchises. You can see why it would be an easy decision to focus on them instead of pouring money into a failed game that few are still playing. In the post, Dailey blames the pandemic for Anthem Next’s death.
“2020 was a year unlike any other however and while we continue to make progress against all our game projects at BioWare, working from home during the pandemic has had an impact on our productivity and not everything we had planned as a studio before COVID-19 can be accomplished without putting undue stress on our teams.”
Still, this could further hurt BioWare’s reputation. It could be seen as them going back on a promise to fix Anthem. Following two bad releases with Mass Effect: Andromeda and Anthem, the studio is already short on gamer goodwill.
EA was hoping that Anthem could be its looter shooter hit, similar to Destiny or The Division. Considering BioWare’s experience with RPGs, the studio seemed like a decent fit. But BioWare had difficulty working with Electronic Arts proprietary Frostbite game engine. The released game could look good if it was running properly, and flying around in Iron Man-like robot suits was fun, but the experience lacked depth, satisfying loot, and the deeper RPG systems that make BioWare’s best games so memorable.
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