It's been an interesting weekend playing Anthem. Not only has most of the GamesRadar team been playing for the past two days, but we've also encountered a number of pretty critical issues that are hampering how much fun there is to have in Anthem. You can read our first impressions in our Anthem review in progress, but these are the 12 key Anthem problems that need to be fixed ASAP.
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1. Reduce the number of loading screens
Oh the things that I have done during the Anthem loading screens. Make a cup of tea. Used the bathroom. Put a load of washing on. Read the first chapter of Marie Kondo's Spark Joy book (almost ironically). Completed a quick match of Tetris 99. Yes, there are that many loading screens that you can legitimately have another hobby on the go while you play Anthem.
There are loading screens moving from one area of freeroam to another - sometimes loading just a single room before you have to face another to get back out again. There are loading screens for each move you between the expedition results screen, to the Forge to adjust your loadout, back to Fort Tarsis, and then go back to the Expedition menu to jump back into another mission. There are loading screens for respawns. For the time you got 30 seconds from the rest of your squad. There are just so many. It seems like there must be a way to streamline it somehow.
2. Let me edit my gear from the options menu
Part of the loading screen frustration is that you have to face one if you want to tweak your gear. I understand that the Javelin customisation menu that lets you tweak material and colours is quite intensive, but separate it out from the loadout. It makes me hanker for Destiny's quick access menu-based loadout screen, where you can nip in after a mission to equip a new gun, or in Anthem's case an ability.
3. Or let me warp from the Forge to the Expeditions menu
If that's not possible, at least add a shortcut that lets me travel from the Forge straight to the Expeditions menu, rather than sitting through two loading screens to get back to the Fort, and then into the Expeditions.
4. Missions aren't marked with the player they're attached to
For a game that encourages you to play with other people, it really makes it hard to figure out exactly what's going on when you have multiple people at different stages of the game. Heading into the Expeditions menu as a squad presents you with all the missions every member has to their name, but no indicator as to which mission belongs to who. That makes it incredibly difficult to know which missions are yours, vs your squad's, particularly if you're at different stages of the story. Unless you're blessed with some kind of photographic memory, you may be able to get a serious case of deja vu.
5. You can't set a waypoint in freeroam
The freeroam area is pretty huge, and surprisingly vertical, which makes working your way from one side of the map to another a sometimes treacherous adventure. It also doesn't help that you can't set a waypoint whatsoever, so even if you're trying to make your way to one of the Anthem tomb challenge locations, which are marked on the map, you can't actually set a waypoint to mark it on your compass or HUD whatsoever. Instead, you have to use a combo of compass trajectories and a quick map check to make sure you're headed in the right direction. But it's a nightmare if you're looking for something specific like a hidden area or one of those damn tombs.
6. Your Javelin isn't great at collision control
And speaking of traversal, let's talk about the flying, or more specifically, the collision. Now, as a Freelancer you're meant to be a world-class Javelin pilot, but enter a larger than average tree branch, slightly extended rocky outcrop, or perhaps even a stiff breeze, and your Javelin is going down. Rather that just gently bouncing off, it's full force impact time and you're sending yourself crashing back to earth. It's a little too sensitive for my liking.
7. Launch Bay doesn't spawn your whole squad in the same place
One of the things that I love about Destiny is the Tower. Not only does it serve to bring together all the useful NPCs, stores and other markers, but it's also a place to hang out with your fellow Guardians, and mess about doing silly challenges. But Anthem's Launch Bay isn't quite up to the Tower's standards. On paper, it does the same thing. There are your vendors around the perimeter of the room, but it is just a big, empty room. Other Freelancers will drop in, but as we learned to our hilarious cost, opting to transport to the Launch Bay after an expedition as a squad doesn't guarantee you'll appear in the same Launch Bay area. That needs to be fixed straight away as it's the only way you can see your pals without being in a mission.
8. Make it clear what everything is, particularly when related to challenges
I thought I'd never say this but I miss a tutorial. The codex is great and everything, but it doesn't give you information that you really need when it comes to finding out more about the actual world and how you interact with it. For example, ticking things off for the Anthem tomb challenges requires you to open treasure chests, which are never actually named in the codex, same for multi-kills, which are very specifically accomplished by pulling off eight kills in a 10-second window. If you're going to give us such specific challenges BioWare, at least explain what that means.
9. Explain what all the Expedition Feats are
All those teenie tiny little icons that appear as Expedition Feats when you've finished an Expedition… Does the game at any point actually tell you what those mean? I know that "melee expert" and other mini-challenges pop up at the side of the screen, but they're easy to miss. I want to know how to earn XP fast, and level up more quickly, so it would be handy to know what all of those icons mean so I can do that stuff more in the game.
10. Don't force a squad to stay together so tightly
Rubber banding is an absolute pain. We all know that from Mario Kart, so why then make it a feature in Anthem. If you decide to stop mid-mission to collect a resource, or generally just appreciate how pretty Bastion is, you're about to be penalised. You'll be faced with a message that says you're "outside the mission boundary" and you'll be given a countdown to when you'll be automatically teleported to your team (via the joy of another loading screen, I might add). Making the parameters of the mission area so small is seriously damaging to the immersion, and utterly unnecessary. Cut me some slack.
11. Explain exactly how the Power Level works
Like Destiny, Anthem has a kind of Power Level system that is linked to the level of the gear and components you equip on your Javelin. That number is then linked to your level and the rarity of your overall Javelin, but again is never explained in the game - or at least not clearly enough for me or any of the GamesRadar team to actually recall. There's no progress bar to let me know how that Power Level works, and no listing in the codex to give me a bit more info. Trust me, I've looked. Why give me a random number without any context?
Let us know what you think are Anthem's biggest problems in the comments below, or hit us up on Twitter @GamesRadar.