Bioware has always been one of my favorite game studios. Every RPG they made since Knights of the Old Republic has been my favorite game du jour at some point during my life.
Basically, they are experts in creating vibrant worlds and telling compelling stories that always feel new.
I know that the studio hasn’t been going through the best of times recently, mostly because of the backlash that Mass Effect Andromeda received. And, even as a fanboy, I do give haters credit. But that didn’t change the fact that I loved the living crap out of Andromeda. It was frustrating at times, but it was still a fun, albeit a bit rushed, Mass Effect story.
So when I heard that Bioware was creating a new intellectual property, I was thrilled. I’ve watched the gameplay trailer for Anthem and everything looks stunning. It’s basically what Andromeda could have looked like, but didn’t.
Then again, everybody knows that you shouldn’t trust gameplay reveal trailers. Ever.
It looks great and sounds great, but then I realized that Anthem is going to be an multiplayer game and all my enthusiasm suddenly vanished.
I Want A Good Story Dammit
Here’s my problem: Bioware’s strong suit is telling great stories that grab you by the arm and pull you into a whole new world. In these worlds, you are an important person: Revan, the Last Spirit Monk, the Grey Warden, Commander Shepard, the Inquisitor etc. and you’re unique.
That uniqueness is a crucial to the overall flavor of the games.
With online multiplayer games, you can’t be unique. Every individual player is the main character. There are hundreds more like you, you aren’t special. This is a problem that World of Warcraft has been dealing with for a while now.
In WoW, the player characters used to be not so special. But as the story progressed, they started to hold important positions of power in the narrative. In Warlords of Draenor, the player characters became the commander(s) of the expedition to Draenor. In Legion, they became the leaders of their class halls and the sole wielders of unique artifact weapons.
As cool as it might be, knowing that you are only one among million other retribution paladins to wield the Ashbringer doesn’t really help with immersion.
Don’t get me wrong though. The story in WoW is still very entertaining and interesting. But I can’t help but wonder how the game would be like if it was a singleplayer RPG. Would they have been able to focus on the story more? I can only speculate.
The strength of WoW is not necessarily the new stories its telling, though. It’s the fact that it builds on an already established franchise. A game like Anthem doesn’t have an established canon to back it up, so it has to be pretty darn good for it to succeed and stick around.
Then there is the issue of competition. To be blunt, Anthem already looks like a Destiny clone. Now I haven’t played Destiny (neither 1 nor 2), but from what I’ve heard, the repetitive nature of multiplayer games doesn’t really leave a whole lot of room for stories.
With that in mind, if I can’t expect a good story, and if Destiny 2 is already filling that niche, why should I be excited for Anthem?
The only thing that keeps me hopeful about Anthem’s story is the fact that Drew Karpyshyn is writing it. Karypshyn has never failed to deliver so far, so maybe there’s still hope. But I’m still scared.
Who is The Real Enemy Here?
Honestly, the real enemy is the suits at EA Games’ corporate greed, capitalism, and the fact that profits take priority over good games. (Shush, I know those three mean the same thing.)
But seriously, is it wrong for me as a gamer to ask for another good Bioware game? I wish I could once again play KOTOR or Dragon Age: Origins for the first time, but I know that’s not going to happen.
I don’t think any fan of Bioware wants them to go out of genre and focus on what essentially will become a Destiny clone. That being said, I know that I’ll probably buy the game and play it to see what it’s all about. But dammit, I’m so afraid of being disappointed.
My point is, just release Dragon Age 4 already.