Anthem: Bioware’s Meaningless Transparency

Over on Reddit, Bioware’s ‘lead producer’ Ben Irving attempted to quell customers who’ve noticed a number of missing features that had been shown off since 2017’s E3:

“The short answer is that the cost of transparency is things change. We did our best to be transparent on the journey to going live but with that we knew things would be different in some situations. Sometimes people would be happy and sometimes they would be upset.

It’s the cost of transparency.

Edit: to elaborate – game development is full of change. There are a million reasons why you set out with an idea and it evolves over time. This is common in every game. We shared as much as we could. Some things change. So the cost of transparency is that some things we said become not true, not because someone was dishonest but because it changed over the course of development.”

Bioware’s position is understandable. At the start of any creative project, it’s easy to aim for the stars only to realize later that all of those ideas just cannot manifest in a certain time frame or budget … or interference from the money people at EA. It would be PR suicide to come out and say that all the cool stuff that got people hyped for Anthem was now cut and nothing was being put in it’s place to buffer the disappointment.

Yet, what people received when they shelled out $59.99+ for this product is far from something that feels, looks, or performs like a complete product. From allegations that the systems are causing PS4 shutdowns, to the recent weapon level scaling issue, Bioware and EA need to take this storm head on. The mentality of “fix it later” when it comes to live service games has worn thin with consumers after the disastrous launch of Fallout 76.

Anthem has been the biggest technical mess of a game that I have personally ever experienced from a AAA big budget title. I’d like to admit that is hyperbole, but it isn’t. Sure, I’ve experienced betas and early releases that have had issues, but that’s to be expected from an incomplete game. Anthem isn’t from some startup, nor was it marketed as an incomplete experience. There has not been a single gameplay session where I’ve not encountered some sort of issue that breaks immersion or flat out breaks the gameplay: freezing, stuttering, endless black screens, and total shutdowns of the XBOX One.

Yesterday I completed the campaign as it is with this vanilla version of the game. Through most of the cutscenes throughout the past three story missions, my character was totally absent. I could hear her voice. Other characters would look in the direction where she should have been standing. Yet, my redheaded freelancer was completely transparent. So, how am I supposed to care about the world or narrative when the game is so flawed that it cannot even render my character?! Bioware, please do better. The foundation of the old legendary studio cannot support the weight of so many errors.



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