BioWare came out with a decently meaty blog post about the status of the Anthem reboot going on over at BioWare Austin currently, with the entry focused on how loot and loot pursuits will be changing in the rework, which is the core of any game in this genre.
And while what is listed all sound like promising improvements to the current system, it shows just how much Anthem is playing catch-up with a half dozen other games in the genre that have already been doing a lot of this stuff for years. Not to mention this is not some imminent patch, but a far-off reboot with no actual timeline and little more than concept art to show these promised changes right now.
I’ll go through each of the changes to loot, and talk about what other loot games they’re being pulled directly from.
“You can pursue specific loot without relying on randomness alone; Quests; Specialized Vendors; Unique Loot Tables.”
Targeted loot pursuits are the core of a coherent looter, and the main problem with Anthem was that with full randomization, all anyone did was a single, efficient activity to get the most drops per hour. The Division 2 probably does target farming the best with its rotating map drops, but games like Destiny and Borderlands have had dedicated drops from activities or bounties or quests for years.
“Modify your loot, including rerolling inscriptions and leveling up items”
Again, The Division 2 is probably the best-in-business for its re-rolling system which involves extracting modifiers from gear and customizing your stuff pretty well. Destiny has mods and the ability to “level up” items through infusing or masterworking.
“Loot feels exciting and more noticeable when it drops, and is celebrated when collected”
This might just be some sort of particle effect thing, but I actually thought Anthem did an okay job with its Diablo-like beams of light before this.
“Rare enemies (aka “walking treasure chests”) create exciting moments to get a burst of loot all at once.”
These are “treasure goblins” pulled straight out of Diablo 3. Borderlands 3 also has employed this concept with a variety of loot-heavy enemies that dump loot on you randomly.
“Reveal and equip loot right away”
This was always the most baffling part of Anthem’s loot structure. You would get drops and have to wait to the end of the activity to see them, and then go back to base to actually equip them. I will never understand how this decision was made. Literally…every other loot game lets you view drops and equip it on the fly, short of a few exceptions like decrypting a couple types of engrams in Destiny.
“Complete revamp of the equipment sheet – including a detailed stat sheet (not shown)”
The picture here has everyone kind of laughing a bit because of how exactly it looks like Destiny’s equipment sheet system, but yes, something like this is needed for sure.
“The equipment sheet can be accessed from anywhere, allows you to easily see what you have equipped in each slot”
Again, it was beyond bizarre that you literally could not view your gear outside of Anthem’s forge at home base. This is standard stuff in every game in this genre.
Finally, a few rapid fire ones about equipment and rewards:
“Each item has an inscription “budget”, based on its Power and Rarity “
“No more useless items because they were missing must-have inscriptions (see “Increased weapon dmg by +225%”)”
“Exceptional items are about getting the exact types of bonuses you want, instead of maxing values on every bonus”
I’m not quite sure what that “budget” means, but probably capped values depending on how rare an item is. And then the second one sounds like a bit of a nerf so that just flat damage bonuses aren’t the only thing you’re ever looking for. This is a lesson Borderlands 3 needs to learn, actually.
Look, don’t get me wrong, all of these changes are good. But they are things that almost every other loot shooter or ARPG has figured out years and years ago, and it’s wild Anthem launched without basic things like “view and equip loot right after you get it” or it’s just discovering concepts like re-rolls or poaching treasure goblins.
And again, I just worry about so much weight being put on BioWare Austin here, which is not a huge studio. I am sure they’re doing their best, but a total rework of Anthem sounds like a massive undertaking. This was announced last year and here we are in August and still just seeing photoshop mockups and concept art. That’s somewhat disconcerting.
I liked Anthem more than most people and I hope it can manage a grand renaissance, but a post like this shows off just how far behind other games it was at launch, and I worry that this project is not getting the resources it needs to fully turn things around.
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