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Anthem devs explain why they don't let you fly as high as you want

Regardless of your feelings on Anthem (opens in new tab) - which has been suffering from exploit-friendly bugs (opens in new tab) and and a mathematically broken loot system (opens in new tab) - you have to admit that flying around in your Javelin is joyous. Soaring through the air above the ruins (and dangers) of Bastion is incredibly freeing - with the only hard stop to full-on Iron Man mobility being the invisible flight ceiling that pushes you back down if you try to ascend too high. And though it might feel like your Javelin's wings have been clipped whenever you hit this roof of downward air currents, it's actually meant to increase your enjoyment of the flying overall.

In a GDC 2019 talk titled "Rocket Man: Creating Flight for Anthem (opens in new tab)," BioWare's Daniel Nordlander (senior gameplay designer, BioWare Edmonton) and David Hoang (senior animator, BioWare Austin) delved into the design decisions behind Anthem's airbound movement. Though much of the talk focused on the extremely complex work that went into animating unique flight motions for each Javelin type, the topic of the flight ceiling came up during the Q&A segment. If Gravity Rush 2 (opens in new tab) allows the player to float miles into the air (by reversing gravity) without any drawbacks to the gameplay, why can't Anthem's Javelins let you soar skyward without limits?

"We actually did experiment quite a lot," said Nordlander, citing Gravity Rush as an inspiration during design. "It's a really good game, by the way - I really like it. What they do is they tend to hide [the ground] with visuals effects or things like that, which blocks out the world when it's really far below you. We tried some approaches [like that], but the main concern there was still that you didn't really have to fly through the world - you could just fly above it."

Admittedly, Anthem's explorable world is largely a network of canyons, jungles, and ruins that encourage you to pull off some impressive aerial maneuvers and thread the needle to narrowly avoid slamming walls. If you could just cruise over everything in the stratosphere, your Javelin's boosters would probably feel more like a boring plane ride than a thrilling display of nimble aviation. "At that point, you could just head off into the distance and just sit there and not have to interact, or do anything with it," said Nordlander. "I think as soon as we lowered the ceiling a bit, and you actually had to fly through the world, we found that players were way more engaged by it - so that's why we opted for that."

The talk also quickly addressed the fact that freefalling is somehow faster than flying towards the ground, as players and sites like Kotaku (opens in new tab) quickly discovered. "We tried adjusting the fall speed to be slower to compensate, but it kind of made it feel like you're flying through syrup," said Nordlander. "So it's definitely weird physics behavior that falling is faster than flying down - but as it didn't really cause any actual exploits or issues in the game, we actually ended up shipping with this behavior."

To level up your Javelin fast when you're not flying around for the heck of it, try out some of our Anthem tips (opens in new tab). 

Lucas Sullivan
Lucas Sullivan

Lucas Sullivan is the former US Managing Editor of GamesRadar+. Lucas spent seven years working for GR, starting as an Associate Editor in 2012 before climbing the ranks. He left us in 2019 to pursue a career path on the other side of the fence, joining 2K Games as a Global Content Manager. Lucas doesn't get to write about games like Borderlands and Mafia anymore, but he does get to help make and market them.