First off we are going to start this post with me flooding you with a big damned image. Last night I managed to cobble together a set on the storm that tips the scale over to Masterwork, meaning that I now have all four lancers to that level. To make it better… I am using very few of the general purpose masterwork inscriptions… I believe I have one on the Storm and one on the Interceptor. The Colossus and Ranger are what I would consider to be in a state of a proper build that I actually want to keep playing. The Ranger is by far the most tuned and I love the whole double detonator thing because it allows me to prime with either Ralner’s Blaze or more often the case my Melee and them BOOMY BOOM BOOM! The Interceptor and Storm are both trying to find workable builds… I love Ten Thousand Suns that I got last night on the Storm so that is likely going to stay.
At this point I have put one hundred and seventy four hours into Anthem since it launched. To that point… I keep getting various people asking me if I will be participating in the player boycott this weekend. For reference the official Reddit has organized effectively a walkout to occur from March 11th until March 15th… which is already supposedly occurring. I mean I get that there are frustrations with the game and I have posted my own, but doing a walkout like this only serves to show how generally impotent the anger of the internet actually is in the grand scheme of things. For a period when the game is supposedly under protest I happily got Quickplay missions on Grandmaster 1 all night long, and got rapid matchmaking when I decided to run a contract or a stronghold. The same went for freeplay and I actually had several instances of spontaneous grouping to run around together without any means of communication and do a bunch of events.
So if the boycott is in fact happening… I am not seeing any signs of it other than maybe an improved community spirit? Like I said the game is not perfect but the game is pretty much the same as every other live services game that I have played. You have to understand… as a gamer I land more on this side of the community than the single player one. I am used to playing through bad launches, horrific bugs, and a general stonewalling of information to the player base and still figuring out ways to carve out my fun. Out of those three issues… only one actually exists in Anthem… which is the fact that it has an awful lot of unintended bugs. The servers have been pretty stable for me from my personal experience… even though that I know lots of other players have complaints there… I have been able to play when I wanted for however long I wanted which is not always the case with an MMO launch.
On the last point… unless you have been through an MMORPG launch that was on fire and burning down around the players… you will probably not appreciate the last point. The communication from Bioware has been excellent and their response to the things that ARE fixable quickly… has been exceedingly fast. It is hard to explain to a user what is an easy fix and what is a hard fix. I have multiple copies of this xkcd comic hanging around the development area, because it is the truest explanation I have ever seen of this disconnect between you and your user base. I think as a developer myself I tend to be way more forgiving of the wobbly awkward stage as a game learns to stand… especially if it is the first time a given company is doing quite this thing. When I see a bad bug I am more aligned to thinking “ugh that is going to be a bad night for one of the devs” instead of wanting to smash my computer and run off to the internet to rage about how I have been wronged. I’ve been called at 1 am to fix a mission critical problem because some “VIP” user was complaining about it… I know those feels.
What I have been impressed the most though about in this process is the level of unvarnished truth that is being dropped on the community from the development staff, and the willingness of Bioware to show it. The official reddit has turned on the developers plain and simple and it has been something sorta sad to watch. What was a pretty free an open environment where a good number of staffers felt comfortable making random comments… has turned into something significantly more hostile. However regularly there are folks still wading into the sea of anger to deliver serious explanations. For example there was a thread where a user saw his very first Legendary drop in 80 hours of gameplay… only to have it locked behind an invisible wall in a dungeon. You can read the entire thread here if you so choose, but the most important bit is the answer given by Ben Irving self identified as the Stronghold Lead.
I cannot put into words how rare that level of interaction is with a game dev when the game is under stress. Similarly there is a big thread that Global Community Manager Jesse Anderson posted on the same Reddit trying to address some of the common threads that were being discussed. It was plain, unvarsnished and shows a level of candor that I am just not used to seeing. I mean I occasionally have back channels to friends that are working on these games… and have heard similar things from them but told in confidence knowing that I would not be sharing it publicly. Instead we are seeing this information just thrown out there plainly… and the reaction Reddit is having is telling. Having things explained is really doing nothing to quell the tide of reddit gold earning rant threads. I’m going to repost the full comments here for those who find Reddit a toxic experience and tend to avoid it, just so you can see what I am talking about.
I am going to preface by saying this will be a long post, none of what you’re about to read comes from a place of hatred, please understand that every one of these concerns comes from a place of compassion and hope.
I would also like to note that while I am going to be as thorough as possible with this post, nothing said in this post is to be taken as community’s unanimous opinion, these are my opinions and since I am also human, some of these opinions could differ or not be right from the perspective of many others, that said, Bioware let’s talk.
Whats going on?
I am sure no one that is currently still sticking around can forget how responsive, jovial and outgoing the dev team was pre launch, 50% of your audience for the game probably came from the aspiration you guys showed and the love you guys showed to a game that was your brain child, every forum I went to everyone I spoke to, would always end their conversation with, ‘They have made mistakes in the past and it’s EA, but this dev team is much more vocal and not hiding anything, so I think I can trust them’.
Where did that bioware go, even during the VIP Demo crisis and during the demo, you guys were certainly not shying away from any kind of criticism, you went into battle head on took on challenges that came out of nowhere and still came out somewhat victorious on the other side, lots of youtubers and streamers actually commended the transparency that the dev team had during that whole fiasco.
Now with this post my intention is to compile and present the issues, feedback and solutions I as a fan of this beloved game have, I am sure there are many that will share my thoughts and many that wont, it is also entirely upto you to respond or not, but I am writing this for the sake of letting you know how some if not most of the community feels.
1. Pre-game release vs Post game release –
Although I touched up on this subject previously I feel like we really need to talk about this first, you are keeping the community blind of what is going on, we don’t know if you’re working on the issues, if you’re reading our feedbacks, if you even visit the sub anymore, the discord especially was filled with a bunch of blue named (dev) messages everytime I went into any channel, there were devs having casual talk, devs asking for opinions, devs asking about people’s javelin colors and even devs who wanted to team up and play the game with the community.
Where did all of that go? Right now this subreddit and the fanbase in general suffers from lack of knowledge about a game they paid money for even through the fact that your previous game had major failures and your parent company happens to be the most despised company in all of gaming, it is one thing to acknowledge issues and then ghost the community, but it is another to not even acknowledge the issue and just burrow your heads underground hoping the storm would pass.
2. Aggravating the community by acknowledging trivial things over major issues –
In the past 4-5 days the community has been up in arms about a major issue that has been plaguing the game, the loot issue, it got to a point where several gaming news websites started talking about how there was no developer response at all, even through all that, most of your community, understood that it’s a weekend and people have lives to live too,
but you took that for granted and not only did you not even acknowledge the loot issue even after the weekend, you started replying to issues that were apparently already fixed but were just minor bugs and to add fuel to the fire, EA help tweeted out that tweet about coming ingame and helping you figure what’s wrong with the game, do you really need more feedback than there already was? do you really want to sit and test other (not so important) issues during a time where you’re on your last straw rather than fix the major issue that’s looming over you? I don’t even want to talk about the ingame cosmetic that went live called ‘making it rain’ I’m sure that was a automated rotation, it still comes out as bad taste.
3. Being confidential about the patch notes –
This is another thing the community had to discover all by themselves and even then at first you said, there are no hidden patch notes, any unlisted change you see is probably a bug/glitch and then you go on to make a post titled ‘Missing notes from 1.0.3 update ‘ I can’t look at this from any point of view where it doesn’t look like a shady business practice, this only creates more distrust in your practices and creates a rift between you and your community where now we don’t even know if the patch notes we get fix things or break more things that are not even listed,
Stop treating the community like first time gamers who have to be given the bare minimum knowledge of your work and they’d just nod and move on, there are people in this community finding issues and bugs in your game that you haven’t found through multiple stages of checking ( if you even had them), even if most of the community doesn’t care for it, it is your obligation to make patch notes and ingame descriptions as clear and detailed as possible.
Not Learning from previous mistakes
1. Andromeda –
The amount of negligence it would take a company to go through a disaster of a release like Andromeda and still come out the other end with similar practices is astronomical, you through your own admission agreed that Andromeda was not the game you wanted it to be and that it was probably your biggest mistake as a gaming company,
You announced Anthem with confidence of showing something the gaming world has never seen, promises that made andromeda’s promises look silly, you created a loyal fanbase long before the game had even finished production, the community through it’s admiration reminded you multiple times that they will not tolerate another incident like Andromeda, everyone was waiting with gleaming eyes for a game that was in production for 6 years, something revolutionary,
and you know what, Anthem is a great game and a revolutionary game, but you through your learning of new things in making this newer greater game, forgot your lessons from your previous game and soon became what you once were.
2. EA Hate –
Anyone stepping into the production of Anthem full well knew the hatred and doubt that comes from your community just because you happen to ally with EA, I don’t want to talk about EA’s malpractices through the years thanks to EA not even being secretive with their sinister actions, the hatred towards them is very well justified,
holding hands with a company like that, putting their name upfront and claiming you’re bringing change, doesn’t have a very hopeful image in people’s eyes, the community still doesn’t know how much of your production was handled and or scrapped by EA, you are not going to tell me with a serious face that Anthem in its current state is a Game made by one of the most leading AAA companies that took 6 years to make,
Now why I mention this topic is, to show you Bioware that we know some of your decisions are made with your hands tied because of corporate overlords looming over your working shoulders, we as a community understand that, but the only thing that can fix this issue, is communication and nothing else.
3. Upcoming games –
This doesn’t entirely fall under the section of previous mistakes but instead gauging threat and preparing for mistakes, the genre you picked already had really big shoes to fill, games like Warframe and Destiny existed in the looter shooter arena long before you stepped in and these were companies that at their current state had very happy fans, your mission was to see that and create something that is so out of any of their imaginations that actually manages to steal some of their fanbase, not only that, you had games like Division 2 right around the corner,
Yet the way the game came out and is being carried out, shows zero care into the product you claim is the ultimate looter shooter, instead of taking from the communities your competitors had, you created a community that came for your game and now is turning to your competitors thanks to your way of handling feedback, you are literally handing out business on a silver platter to your competitors.
1. Community Feedback –
Another topic that has been mentioned plenty above, but you know why this needs its own section, you in your current state do not deserve the community that is carrying you on its shoulders, they are being civil and respective in their way of giving feedback, yes there are people that just come here to create hate and anger, but you know who your core community is, those that play the game everyday, go through the countless bugs and issues and still come out the other end to say, let me write about this to bioware, maybe they’ll fix it soon,
You need to cherish the community you have, it is already in dwindling numbers, please don’t make the reset go away, because you abused their trust in you.
2. Forgiving Fanbase –
No other company, has gone through something like Andromeda under the partnership of a company like EA and still managed to have a fanbase that said, ‘you know what? it’s fine, mistakes happen, go ahead and take 6 years to create an amazing game and we’ll stay here waiting for you’. I am sure just like me many of your fanbase has been mocked by their friends offline and online just because we still support a company that allies itself with EA,
I am a good example for this, I have friends that never believed a single word that came out my mouth about anthem, yet I still managed to convince them that on the other side of that game is a production team that actually cares about their fanbase, I told them the conversations I personally had with the devs on twitter, this was new for anyone who heard it and they could slowly see the passion I had in the game, through their trust on my their trust on your company grew, I brought them with open arms and confidence into the demo plays, but what did you make me look like? a idiot that trusted a company that was never to be trusted, yet here I am a month later, writing to you about why I still love this game,
Most of your current fanbase is composed of people like me, some would call us outright lunatics for still sticking around and we’re starting to think we are, please prove us wrong.
3. Doing your work for you –
Carrying over from the previous topic, not only do you have fans that have stayed with you through thick and thin, but you have fans that are going through stats and statistics, graphs and experiments and giving you detailed information of what’s wrong with your game and how you can fix it, not many games have the players doing the developing for them, yet you have this golden opportunity laid out in front of you to work with your community and create something that both of you can pride yourselves in and you’re throwing that away.
Lack of Content
1. Hull of a game –
Let’s finally get to addressing the Elephant in the room, the game itself, a game in many ways or atleast in it’s AAA sense has to come with a few guaranteed factors-
1.A good story line
2.Rich character development
3.Enough content to last till your next content cycle
4.Things to keep your players occupied in terms of visual customization and vanity
5.Good gameplay mechanics
6.Good and plentiful rewards
anyone can tell you Bioware that anthem does not check out on majority of these points, ofcourse depending on who you ask the things that check and don’t check out might differ, but I am sure that everyone will only have 2 if not 3 things in that list they think you’ve achieved and you know this to be true,
the problem here doesn’t come from the fact that you happened to make a bad game, the problem here stems from every single point I’ve made above, each of those tiny twigs and branches joining together to create what happens to be a major problem for everyone involved in the production of the game and the fanbase through defending you.
2. Looter shooter without any loot –
I don’t even know where to start with this, do I start with the fact that end game content doesn’t even rewards end game loot or do I start from the fact that there isn’t even enough end game loot in this game to make it rain end game loot,
people think the problem is masterworks and legendaries are dropping too low and that drop chances need to go up, but I think the problem is a little deeper and a little more dangerous than that, something that’s making you stay silent,
There isn’t even enough masterwork and Legendary loot to drop for end game content, there is such little diversity in master work and legendary loot right now, if I were to run a dungeon and come out the other end with all master work and legendaries 60% of those will be duplicates just because of the fact that there isn’t even enough items to fill my bag without creating duplicates,
I don’t really know how you’re going to solve this issue, coz by god you took 6 years and did this, but the right thing to do now, is to open the loot floodgates and have people atleast have the illusion that you actually have tons of loot variety in this game.
3. Armor and cosmetics –
Ok I actually am quite annoyed with the current community about this, even after all the shit you’ve pulled and all the abuse you’ve done to your community, they are still open to give you more money to buy vanity items and what do you do? give them 2 proper items and 4 trivial items every few days,
One of the biggest catches for your game was the freedom to customization, you showed us so much customization during those live streams before the demo that people were actually overwhelmed, yet the game launches and you don’t even have things that you had ready before the games completion, how do you show people 10-15 armor variations 6-7 months prior to the launch yet the game launches with 2-3 armor variations and end game doesnt even provide any vanity,
It truly baffles me that anyone wants to give more money to you, but alas its their money, but I just hope you can take that money without feeling guilty.
Turning a good game bad
1. What could have been –
Anthem could have been so much more if it actually hit all the promises made during its E3 press release and during its production cycle, it was the ultimate looter shooter that was to come and prolly obliterate the gaming market with its presence, but that was not what we got.
2. What it currently is –
I don’t even know what the game currently is, probably a shallow pool of the ocean that was promised, fading community and false promises, the game is not what it was meant to be and not what it deserves to be.
3. What it could be –
It still isn’t too late to save Anthem, with simple communication and progressive fixes we as a community and the developers together can fix this game, it probably wont be what it was initially supposed to be but alteast we can create something that is worth staying for, I pre-ordered No Man’s Sky and regretted it very much after launch, but because of the communication that kept coming from Hello Games people stuck around to hear their side of the story and the game right now is galaxies better than it once was and I’m sure Anthem is no exception to that change.
In conclusion I just want to say, we as a community still believe in you, we still believe in this game and we still believe that all of this will pass and we can make something great out of this and all we ask in return is for you to speak to us.
EDIT: I hit submit way too early, sorry about that, first time writing something like this!
The thing is… I applaud the hell out of the Anthem team for the way that they communicate with us. I also applaud whoever decided to create a second Reddit called LowSodiumAnthem so those of us who are still very much enjoying the game could have a place to discuss it without getting bogged down in the sea of rage. Please note, this is not me stating that the game is perfect… and I have shared many of my frustrations. However I also want to share my joys and I still enjoy flying around and doing content and am not going to stop due to some boycott. Especially when said boycott doesn’t appear to be changing the state of the game other than maybe having the absence of angry players making the grouping experience better?