Anthem is the latest new IP from EA studio BioWare, best known for their work on the Mass Effect and Dragon Age games. Previously known only by the codename Dylan, Anthem departs from what BioWare is known best for in their narrative-based games, instead moving towards a cooperative action looter/shooter in the vein of Destiny or The Division.
First unveiled at E3 2017 and with more details emerging at E3 2018 and PAX West, we're starting to piece together more information about BioWare's next big title. Here's what we do know, including the release date, platforms, early access information and gameplay and story details. For more information, check out our Anthem hands-on review from E3 2018.
When is the Anthem release date?
Anthem was originally scheduled for a release in 'fall 2018' (that's autumn for us Brits), but, as reported and then confirmed by EA at E3 2018, Anthem will be released on 22 February 2019.
"It’s not a delay," EA CFO Blake Jorgensen told The Wall Street Journal in January 2018. “People are trying to create a story.” Instead, EA felt that moving Anthem's release date into the first quarter of 2019 would provide the new IP with an open release window, instead of putting it up against established brands in the run-up to Christmas.
Which platforms will Anthem be on?
Although Anthem's full gameplay reveal came during the Xbox event at E3 2017, the game isn't a Microsoft exclusive. Instead, it'll be coming to both PS4 and PC as well, and will take full advantage of the 4K-enabled PS4 Pro and Xbox One X.
Can I play Anthem early?
The good news is that if you're keen, you'll be able to play Anthem earlier than everybody else. EA announced at E3 2018 that EA Access subscribers and those that pre-order the game will get early access to the upcoming shooter, though no more was said until PAX West in August.
BioWare took to the stage at PAX West and announced the Anthem VIP demo will be available to EA Access subscribers and those that pre-order the game from 1 February 2019, though details of what the demo will include are yet to be announced.
The company confirmed that those who qualify for access will receive their codes closer to the launch. So, if you want to see what Anthem has to offer before everybody else, you better get subscribing/pre-ordering!
What is the gameplay like?
EA describes Anthem as a 'shared-world action-RPG', which in practice means it's a bit like Destiny or The Division, a sort of massively multiplayer online shooter.
You play as a Freelancer, tasked with braving the wilderness around a walled city (so far, so Destiny) to protect mankind from the threats that lie beyond. They include huge, savage beasts, and at least some armed enemies called Scars.
To help you survive, you don a Javelin exosuit. These allow you to fly, and are also packed with weapons and abilities. You'll be able to accrue multiple Javelin suits for different situations, and can customise both their loadout and their look.
You'll be able to team up in groups of up to four to complete missions together, though we expect you'll also be able to play most of the game on your own if you prefer.
You will progress through the game and your character will level up as you do so, gaining more loot and abilities. If we haven't made this clear already, they're borrowing fairly heavily from The Division and arm-dislocatingly heavily from Destiny.
You can watch some of that for yourself in the 20-minute gameplay demo shown off at E3 2018, which EA has since uploaded in video form with commentary from Lead Producer Ben Irving:
Will Anthem have loot boxes and microtransactions?
EA was very quick to state that there will be no loot boxes or pay-for-power advantages in Anthem. I remember a time when that didn't have to be stated as if it's a feature that demands applause but here we are in a post-EA Battlefront 2 world.
You will be able to buy cosmetics to make your Javelin mech look different, through colours and geometric shapes, but you will know exactly what you're getting and it won't give you an advantage.