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E3: BioWare's Anthem: Release Date, Closed Alpha, And What We Know (So Far)

Anthem is the latest game from fan-favorite RPG studio BioWare. Following in the footsteps of the studio's previous work, Anthem is a third-person action-RPG. You play as a Freelancer, someone who pilots an exosuit called a Javelin in order to explore an alien world and defend its inhabitants from dangerous creatures and wandering hostile marauders.

The game was first revealed at Microsoft's E3 2017 presentation. Since then BioWare has released a smattering of details concerning Anthem's systems and a handful of gameplay footage. To ensure you're kept up to date on everything there is to know about Anthem, we've compiled all the information we have on the game so far: how it plays, its release date, and more.

How It Plays

Anthem bears a resemblance to games like Destiny and The Division, in that it's a shared-world multiplayer shooter where you create a custom character, complete missions, collect loot, and upgrade your character's weapons and equipment. All the while, there's a main story campaign packed with NPCs with their own unique stories who you can build relationships with. There's some player choice thrown in, but don't expect the same multi-branching dialogue choices seen in previous BioWare games.

While inherently an online cooperative multiplayer game, it's possible to experience all of Anthem by yourself. That said, both camps can be affected by live events, which alter the world in subtle yet significant ways. For example, reality-distorting rifts known as Shaper Storms are random events that can cause unexpected dangers. A day-and-night cycle and dynamic weather system also serves to mix up gameplay experiences, affecting the types of enemies you encounter.

When you're not out fighting or exploring the world of Anthem, you're spending time in Fort Tarsis, a safe haven that acts as the game's central hub. When in the fort, you can customize your Javelin, acquire new missions, rest in your personal home base, and interact with other players. In an intriguing shift from normal play, you assume a first-person perspective when inside Fort Tarsis. Refer to the E3 2017 footage above for a brief taste of what it looks like to accept a mission request in Fort Tarsis and then deploy into battle with your Javelin.

You're not completely blocked from customizing your Javelin when out in the field. You do have access to a Stryder, a forward operating base where you can tinker and rest in-between expeditions.

Release Date And Closed Alpha

Anthem is set to launch February 22, 2019. However, a closed alpha will run from December 8-9. If you're interested in jumping in, you can fill out EA's Playtesting form. If you pre-order the game, you'll receive access to a pre-launch demo. For more details on how to purchase Anthem, check out our pre-order guide.

What Are The Javelin Classes?

The focus of Anthem is its Javelins, which are super-powered Iron Man-like suits that act as player classes. There are four types in total at launch: Ranger, Colossus, Interceptor, and Storm. Each have their own particular abilities, weapons, ultimate attacks, as well as a laundry list of strengths and weaknesses depending on your playstyle. You may equip two weapons to their loadout at a given time and can cycle out different sets between missions. It's also possible to switch Javelins between missions. Below you can find summaries of each Javelin class.

Ranger: The Ranger is the all-rounder exosuit that's the most versatile of the bunch, appearing to be able to handle most combat situations effectively. Aside from heavy weaponry, it can equip nearly every weapon type under the sun. It balances both ranged and melee attacks and can switch between them in the thick of battle with relative ease. This is the definitive Javelin for beginners.

Colossus: If your interests lean towards heavy weaponry--something that the Ranger isn't readily capable of--then the Colossus is the suit you'll want to spend time with. It is the brute of the game, possessing all manner of firepower, like homing missile launchers, mortars, flame throwers, and heavy cannons. Not to mention it can also topple enemies in its path with its massive chassis and shield. While slow in its movement speed, it does have jet propulsion that can help you get out of harm's way if a battle becomes too hot.

Ranger, Colossus, Interceptor, Storm
Ranger, Colossus, Interceptor, Storm

Interceptor: The Interceptor is the polar opposite of the Colossus in that it's all about agility and mobility. It's incredibly proficient at melee attacks and abilities that can weaken enemies, so expect a lot of hit-and-run tactics when using this flashy and acrobatic Javelin.

Storm: The Storm bears similarity to Destiny's Warlock in that it appears to be Anthem's mage class. As you'd expect from its name, Storm makes use of lethal elemental attacks. Unlike other Javelins, it can effortlessly float above ground for extended periods of time, so as to hail down a barrage of elemental damage. With such power at its fingertips, it has little in the way of defensive capability, which very much makes this Javelin best suited for advanced players.

How Does Matchmaking Work?

Before heading out into the world with your Javelin, you have the option to matchmake with up to three other players. You can choose to either invite friends, fellow guild members, or other like-minded players; you needn't worry about player levels amongst the group as you can join up with anyone without consequence to experience and loot earnings. It's also possible to simply jump out into the world on your own without assembling a squad.

Regardless of how you choose to proceed, you're then prompted to pick either an objective on the map to accomplish or choose Free Play mode where you can explore the world at your own pace. You catch a brief glimpse of matchmaking in the E3 2018 footage above.

What's The Loot System Like?

Like its shared world contemporaries, Anthem features a loot system. The quality of loot you receive is determined by your current pilot level, so even if you're paired with higher-level players, you'll only obtain loot that corresponds to your pilot level. Some loot is drop-specific from certain enemies, while others are earned by completing certain questlines. It's worth noting that loot is instanced, and therefore cannot be stolen by other players.

Loot is divided into six categories denoting its rarity. The names of the loot tier list are as follows: Common, Uncommon, Rare, Epic, Legendary, and Masterwork.

Will There Be Loot Boxes? Microtransactions?

There will be not be loot boxes in Anthem. That said, you can purchase cosmetic items for your Javelin with real or in-game currency--with the exception of cosmetics included with special editions of the game. There will also be armor packs that change the appearance of your Javelin.

General Impressions

We haven't had many opportunities to play Anthem, but we did get a chance to try out the game at E3 2018. Below you can find some brief impressions about how it felt to play.

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