The Sci-Fi Epic that Sings Already: ‘Anthem’

Adam Mathew
Games PlayStation
Games PlayStation Xbox PC Gaming

We recently had a chance to sit down with Thomas Singleton, producer of BioWare’s Anthem, in order to get a deep dive look into the all-important classes available in the game. Not all javelin exosuits are created equal, it seems…

For those of you who haven’t been tracking Anthem on their mini-radar, it was announced two years ago and it’s…how can we put this delicately, not dissimilar to Destiny. At least on the surface.

When you stop judging the book by its cover – and all the in-game flying and verticality opens up – Anthem undeniably reveals itself to be so much more. In fact, we’d even go so far as to say it’s the sleeper hit of 2019.

Anthem Bioware story
The Anthem storyline will be continually added to, though no studio can produce content as quickly as we can consume it.

The Pillars of Anthem

According to Singleton, centres around three pillars. Firstly, while Anthem‘s deep customisation was built to let you express who you are as an individual, the wider adventure has been designed to be a shared experience. Co-optimal, if you will. Secondly, flying around with super heroic abilities is incredibly important, as are four vastly different suits that allow you and your co-op party to complement one another in a scrap and to shore up any class weaknesses.

Lastly, Singleton insists that Anthem aims to deliver a rich, ongoing and immersive storyline for players to get lost in. BioWare as a whole is quite proud of what they’ve been able to achieve in terms of narrative and it’s something this talented (yet recently troubled) team has been wanting to execute for a very long time. Better yet, this epic is promised to continue and evolve across the life of the product. The experience you clock in the opening launch weeks will represent just the tip of a longer spear… javelin. Whatever.

Anthem, all four Javelin classes
Each javelin will have some form of team support ability.

Speaking of those, in this universe the javelins represent the peak of mankind’s mechanical armour technology. If you want to get ahead in this dangerous world – or just prevent the indigenous wildlife from eating your eyes for Jujubes – you’ll need one. Javelins can be kitted out per the user’s requirements with three Gear slots – two offensive and one support. They’re cooldown based and mercifully require no additional ammo pickups. Sorry kleptomaniacs.

You should also know that each model comes with an Ultimate that effectively allows you to put the tiger balm on the jungle of this planet and the aggressive inhabitants who call it home. BioWare calls these “complete game-changers.”

Anthem class javelin Ranger
The Ranger at work.

The Ranger

Your everygamer model is the Ranger. It’s a My First Javelin type deal with no great positives and no glaring negatives, but it’s versatile and a great way to learn the basics. In the lore of Anthem these are the frontline go-tos of the Sentinels (think: a royal guard). Their perfect balance of offence and defence is used to great effect while protecting the seat of Anthium inside the walls of Fort Tarsis (a fortified megastructure where the remnants of humanity are currently cowering).

It’s also worth noting that each of these exosuits comes with a few tools to start out with. The Ranger solves its most pressing problems via an electric mace to the face. Beyond that you can count on Gear like a grenade launcher, area-dominating frags, paralysing frost grenades or seeker variants that will do the aim-work for you.

Speaking of, the Ranger has a wrist launcher that coughs out homing missiles or poison darts that punish foes over time.

Surprisingly, the Ranger has decent support capabilities in the form of a Muster Point function. If your javelin buddies are within this AoE, their damage output will spike. Ultimate-wise, the Ranger unleashes holy hell with a swarm of missiles – either distributed on a gaggle of unfortunates or served up flambé style for one single big-bad.

Anthem class javelin Colossus
The Colossus is your tank class.

The Colossus

On the topic of bigguns, say hello to the tank of the piece, the Colossus javelin. This model sacrifices speed and manoeuvrability for sheer amounts of firepower and a healthbar ’til next Tuesday. Boasting a shield and a penchant for close combat stomping, Anthem lore states that a Colossus javelin was favoured by the mythical General Tarsis herself (bookmark her as she’s an important part of the story).

Slip into this javelin and your wrist is going to spew mortars aplenty. These could be burst rounds that fan out across enemy lines, or high-ex ones that turn closely knit mobs into gazpacho. You can supplement those with a rocket launcher, a heavy cannon or especially toxic gamers can use an acid spitter that is a damage-over-time solution.

Alternatively, if you play with others you can use a taunt ability to draw aggro away from your buddies. Ultimate-wise, Colossi can fire out a round that could aptly be classified as a mini-nuke.

Anthem class javelin Storm
The Warlock, ahem, Storm is your mecha spellcaster.

The Storm

Players after a bit of style in their life (and who probably gravitated to Destiny‘s Hunter class) will be all about the Storm javelin. It’s the cape-loving Lando Calrissian of the crew that is actually an exosuit developed by the mysterious, not-well-liked mob called the Dominion. The tech in this thing allows the pilot or “freelancer” to harness their kinetic energy and tap into a higher power. Benefits include being able to hover longer than any other class, but the downshot is melee damage will drop you quick.

If you do insist on getting in close you can bust out a flash attack to disorient attackers and facilitate a tactical retreat. Your gear is going to be highly elemental too – lighting, ice, and fire, etc. Protecting your pals can be achieved using a Nexus Shield that lessens the cooldowns of anybody within range of it.

Yes, you can literally make everybody stay frosty. When it comes time to lay the smack down you’ll get to combine all of your elements into a three-punch combo of sorts that devastates anybody silly enough to be in front of it.

Anthem class javelin Interceptor
The high damage, low HP Interceptor is the rogue of the bunch.

The Interceptor

Last but not least we have the Interceptor, which was created by the shadowy Corvus spy organisation to serve in a scouting role. In terms of acrobatics and agility it’s (excuse the pun) leaps and bounds beyond all of the other models. It’s about specialised weaponry, too – close range attacks where you’ll need to hit and run as your attack power will be high but you’re also made out of balsa wood.

The tricks up your (literal) sleeve include dual blades, wrist-fired cluster mines on proximity fuses and enemy-seeking glaives. If that’s not doing it for you, use the Strike move which effectively turns you into a human projectile. When you’re not dancing a dervish of death you can help out your co-op collective by dismissing everybody’s status effects with a Rallying Cry. Wrapping up this suite of powers is an Ultimate that sends you berserk with your blades. It’s true ninja-on-red-cordial stuff.

When the demonstration wraps we’re pretty damn impressed with the direction Anthem is taking. And that direction, in short, is everywhere on the screen – the verticality and intensity of the combat is as dizzying as it is inciting. We simply can’t wait to personalise an exosuit to our own oddball tastes and to use it in a four-person squad of like-minded arse-kickers. A lot of Anthem is still under wraps, but the more we see of it the more it rocket boosts upward in our esteem.

Adam Mathew
I've seen and played it all – from Pong on a black-and-white CRT to the 4K visuals and VR gloriousness of today. My only regret after a decade of writing and 30+ years of gaming: hitchhiking's no longer an option. My thumbs are nubs now.
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