Why Anthem’s latest update hasn’t quelled the storm

Image credit: BioWare/EA

Last week Anthem’s 1.1.0 update hit servers worldwide. To many, it symbolized the last drop of hope they had that BioWare could right the ship and turn the tide of despair that had been emanating from the game’s troubled release. 

The dust hasn’t even settled on the latest patch, but it seems that any hope of a speedy recovery for Anthem has gone up in flames. With the embers still smouldering and smoke still lingering in the air, let’s examine what went wrong with Anthem patch 1.1.0. 

Loot, wherefore art thou, loot?

First things first, Anthem’s 1.1.0 update didn’t address the community’s primary concern: the game’s loot. For months now, players have been clamoring for better chances at unlocking the best pieces of gear and the most powerful weapons

Unfortunately, Anthem’s 1.1.0 patch notes made no mention of any increase to loot drop chances whatsoever. To make matters worse, BioWare did its best to dodge any questions related to the game’s loot in its weekly livestream. 

Head over to the official Anthem subreddit and the top comments on the latest livestream post shine a spotlight on Bioware’s silence. 

“This week’s[sic] livestream answers as many questions as last week’s livestream,” commented one Redditor

Another of the top comments told the tale of the developer’s plea for questions being met with “600 immediate responses of “LOOT??!!!”,” only for BioWare to respond with: “We’re not going to be talking about that.” 

It seems many players are frustrated with the continued lack of response from the developer. In an effort to right its wrongs, BioWare also posted an ‘update on Anthem from the development team’, which was met with equal disdain. The developer’s stance on loot was a regurgitation of the sentences fans dread seeing: “We have heard your concerns… when we have more information to share, we will.” 

After Kotaku’s exposé of Anthem earlier this month, it’s hard not to feel sorry for the developers that are being hamstrung at every turn. Even so, the consumer experience is suffering as a result, with loot being drip-fed at a snail’s pace in a fast-changing industry. 

Roadmap less traveled 

The other big disappointment of Anthem update 1.1.0 was, of course, the announcement that the Act 1 roadmap has been delayed

In the same ‘update on Anthem’ video that shrugged off the issue of loot, the development team dropped the bombshell that they’d pushed back previously promised content for April and May. This includes the mastery system, the Cataclysm that was planned for May, and a wide array of other missions and events. 

The Cataclysm, Anthem’s answer to a Raid mission, was a light at the end of a tunnel to many; lauded by a select few players as the last bastion of hope. Unfortunately, it now looks like it won’t be arriving until at least June. 

This speaks for itself, the game received mixed reviews for its subpar end-game, but the promise of future Strongholds and a Cataclysm gave consumers something to look forward to. Pushing that back only exacerbates the existing problems.

Sunken Cell or sinking feeling?

The Sunken Cell Stronghold is a worthy inclusion to Anthem’s end-game content. The addition of a fourth Stronghold is a significant increase to the variety of missions that gamers can grind once they’ve reached Anthem’s level 30 cap. There’s one glaring problem, however: it’s a long mission. 

Anyone that’s spent a decent amount of time in Anthem’s end-game will know that there are two main methods for grinding loot in Strongholds. Either run The Tyrant Mine repeatedly - it’s the fastest one to complete - or start Heart of Rage and leave after the second chest. 

These are the most time-efficient ways of acquiring loot using Strongholds, and the second is highly controversial. It’s heavily criticized by sections of the fanbase because players searching for Heart of Rage are endlessly funnelled into just the final boss – which is a lengthy slog, hence why efficient players skip it entirely. 

Because Sunken Cell takes a long time to complete, it will likely be cast aside within a week by the majority of the remaining player base. It offers novelty in terms of new gameplay and environments, but it’s still an inefficient mission to grind repeatedly. If there were new weapons or gear to be found, or even a higher drop rate for this mission, the new Stronghold would have gone a long way towards buoying the spirits of the community. Unfortunately, without a wealth of booty to plunder, it’s probably destined to be another forgotten shipwreck.

A little tone-deaf?

For what it’s worth, Anthem update 1.1.0 did include a number of decent quality-of-life improvements, buffed certain weapons and gear, and squashed some bugs. 

It would be unfair to suggest that Anthem’s latest patch was a total failure, but that doesn’t mean it was a net positive for BioWare, either. If anything, the tone-deaf livestream and delayed content caused further uproar. Time will tell if they can make a comeback. One fears, though, that if they don’t heed their warnings, Anthem’s time may run out. 

This was the update that needed to restore the playerbase’s faith - to keep them invested in Anthem instead of leaving for more developed online loot shooters like Destiny 2 or Division 2 - and it really…didn’t. 

While titles such as No Man's Sky have proved games suffering from 'failure to launch' can turn the odds in their favor, Anthem's performance decline (and delayed roadmap) is likely to result in a playerbase decline that will see the game-as-a-service struggling to keep afloat.

(Image credits: BioWare/EA)