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Big Changes for EA: Back to the Drawing Board for Anthem and Need for Speed

Two of EA’s recent missteps are getting another chance.

Feb 13, 2020

Electronic Arts have had a bit of a rocky run this generation. For every critical success they’ve had like Titanfall 2, Apex Legends, and Jedi: Fallen Order (large thanks to developer Respawn), a whole other slew of games that both don’t live up to fans and critics alike have seen their rise and falls. The original Star Wars Battlefront fell flat for fans looking to return to the battlegrounds of the Star Wars universe, Mass Effect: Andromeda was struck with a whole list of problems at launch that put the series’ future in question, and their attempts to turn Battlefield V into an entry worthy of the multiplayer shooter’s reputation has been met with not much fanfare. Before Anthem, the game that suffered the worst out of the bunch was Star Wars Battlefront II, a title that could not find its footing when it launched with far too many microtransactions, a mediocre campaign, and a multiplayer mode that tried to take on far too much, three eras worth of Star Wars film content where each felt incredibly limited in scope and map variety.

That game, though, has largely turned around. Developer DICE has taken great care into making that game a worthy multiplayer experience. They recently launched the Celebration Edition that packaged all of the game’s unlockable cosmetics into one package, and the future is looking much brighter for that game, but Anthem’s future looks far more uncertain. With both Battlefield V and Anthem, two games that depend on frequent updates to keep the games alive, their content calendars both left much to be desired, and in the wake of games like Fortnite, and even EA’s own Apex Legends dominating the live-service type games, is there even room for lesser titles to keep up?

The four playable Javelins in Anthem offered up unique playstyles and customization.The four playable Javelins in Anthem offered up unique playstyles and customization.

Anthem’s Past, Present, and Uncertain Future

When we first laid eyes on Anthem back during E3 2017, it looked incredible. A fresh, new cooperative action game where we could team up with our friends, fly around a lush wilderness and battle huge beasts and brave the hazardous alien wilderness. Things were looking good for BioWare, who had recently released the much anticipated Mass Effect: Andromeda with a massive list of problems both fixable through updates, and baked into the core experience. Anthem looked like the game that could very well bring BioWare’s reputation back even though it was the purest action type experience from the veteran RPG developer. Comparisons to Destiny quickly started popping up online, but the different perspective, Iron Man-like gameplay fantasy of flying around and blasting enemies, and a more lived-in world to explore looked to separate it from the crowd. It would later come out, though, that that first demo that wowed so many was far from the experience that players would jump into at launch.

The incredible weather effects, diverse wildlife, and core gameplay loop designed for the demo were added nearly last minute before it was shown to the public, and major details of the story were unknown even to the team before the game came out. The result was a game that saw numerous restarts during its long development, and an experience that many completely abandoned soon after day one. BioWare even had to let go of its post-launch event schedule to fix the huge problems the game was facing. It has been a rocky road, and even though BioWare has emphasized their commitment to the game, to have a chance of coming back there needed to be a huge change. Longtime General Manager of BioWare, Casey Hudson put out an extended statement about the hopeful future of the game, and a mission to heavily improve the experience through extensive testing.

Anthem's gameplay is fun for a time, but everything surrounding it needs work.Anthem's gameplay is fun for a time, but everything surrounding it needs work.

Will it Work?

Star Wars Battlefront II proves that EA isn’t totally against putting in the resources necessary to give a game the second chance it deserves, but with the Star Wars brand being attached to that, it might have been more of a necessary move. It is hard to say whether or not Anthem will get the same treatment in the end. Games like Destiny have gotten much better over the years due to constant updates and support, but the difference between Destiny and Anthem is that the core of Destiny’s gameplay was strong from the beginning. Everything that needed to be changed to make it a compelling experience was all there, the work was in tweaking loot, balance, and progression and adding content for players to enjoy.

By the end of first Destiny’s life, it was a game brimming with content and a blast to play. Anthem, on the other hand, feels deeply flawed at the most basic levels, unfortunately. When the biggest pillars that make these MMO-lite games work, satisfying loot, progression, and activities are flawed, BioWare is looking at a huge uphill battle to keep its few existing fans happy, as well as bring in those who have written off the game completely. Crazier things have happened, the now popular MMO Final Fantasy 14 is in a better place than it ever has, especially when it first came out, and Destiny 2 has dominated the charts ever since it went Free-to-Play. I genuinely hope BioWare can turn the Anthem ship around, the potential there is huge, and nobody has done rich, lived-in sci-fi in games better than BioWare.

Battlefront II is better than it has ever been right now.Battlefront II is better than it has ever been right now.

Criterion Taking a Shot at Need for Speed

EA has struggled to find success for its racing series, Need for Speed in the last couple of entries. Payback suffered from a huge over monetization problem, and the latest entry, Heat, just kind of came and went without much fanfare or even recognition. Criterion was best known for the insane arcade racing series Burnout but has since taken more of a support role after its founders left the studio to work on other projects a few years back. Their most notable works in the last few years being redesigning Battlefront II’s starship gameplay mode from the ground up. At one point, Criterion was probably an obvious choice to take on the once-beloved racing game, but coming back onto the scene now, they’ll have a lot to prove to re-earn their racing stripes.

The future of Need for Speed is uncertain.The future of Need for Speed is uncertain.
Share Your Thoughts

What do you think? Can BioWare turn Anthem around? Let us know below!


By: Noah Friscopp