Bioware’s Anthem didn’t quite have the awesome gameplay blowout that we were expecting at E3. That’s because the real details were in the numerous previews and hands-on sessions that publications received. Many will still doubt whether there’s anything that really differs from games like, say, Bungie’s Destiny. So let’s take a look at 15 ways that Anthem is most decidedly not a clone of Destiny. Keep in mind that these points are based on the gameplay footage and details known thus far since a lot could still change about Anthem before it launches.
Hardcore Destiny players will probably scoff at the above point. To clarify, Destiny 1 and 2 do have intriguing jumping puzzles that require platforming skill. Plus jumping through the air and using mobility against enemies is important (especially in some raids). Leaving reduced in-air accuracy for Destiny 2 aside though, it’s just not the same as actually flying and battling foes. Anthem provides a significant amount of flight and an expanded sense of verticality as battles can take place at multiple levels. It may still be a shooter at heart but its combat feels much more free-form than Destiny thanks to the aerial aspects. Oh, and as a bonus point, you can dive in and traverse through water in Anthem, which is not possible in Destiny.
Though Destiny exists in this post-Golden Age era of powerful technology and space magic, it lacks mechs. Heck, it lacks power suits of any kind. Sure, playing as undead sci-fi space warriors can be cool (or horribly dull, because of how Destiny treats the subject) but Anthem has proper power suits aka Javelins. Want to feel like Iron Man or even the Hulk Buster? You won’t find that in Destiny.
Whenever you begin a new character in Destiny 1 or 2, the entire map is locked off until you finish the required story missions. This wouldn’t be a problem if the story weren’t so darn terrible to play through but I digress. In Anthem the entire map is open from the beginning. Though Bioware advises players to not just go anywhere (since there will be higher level foes to fight), it does feed into another positive aspect of the game.
Co-op Level Scaling
In most other co-op games, if a low-level player joins your team they’ll often be a detriment, especially in higher level missions. Such is the case in Destiny, which does its part to gate off content for players who haven’t reached certain Power levels. Anthem takes a Diablo 3 approach in that even if a level 1 player joins your team, their damage output will be scaled to match. Some aspects like Greater Rifts have more requirements but you get the idea. So not only can lower level players join their friends who are further into Anthem without being a burden but it also allows for some power levelling as well.
One of my major criticisms against Destiny is the lack of any in-game LFG system or even a way to find random players engaged in activities and join them in-game. Anthem uses a Monster Hunter World-style system called Contracts wherein other Freelancers can join your missions, even while they’re in progress, to help. Hop,efully a proper filtering and search system is implemented for specific activities as well.
Bioware is adamant about not having PvP at launch for Anthem. Though it could be considered for the future, Anthem is a purely PvE-driven game for now. And while many will look at the disastrous state of Destiny 2 PvP from launch till now and rejoice, improvements are on the way with Forsaken. Weapon slots will be changed and time-to-kill will be reduced. So whether Anthem not having PvP like Destiny 1 and 2 at launch is a positive or not will depend solely on what you’re looking for in a shooter.
Difference in Perspectives
While exploration in Anthem is done in third person perspective, Fort Tarsis, the main hub, restricts the player to a first person perspective. The hub is also used to tell stories for players so even if you’re grouped up, your story progress won’t hinder others. Destiny is the opposite. The Tower is in third person while combat is predominantly first person with a mix of third person. Also, though the Tower does kind of advance one’s story, it’s little more than a back and forth with glorified vendors standing around, spouting terrible dialogue more than anything (not to mention the incessant Tess Everis babbling in the background).
For some reason, Bungie has shied away from really embracing any kind of crafting in Destiny. Anthem, on the other hand, allows for crafting though the extent of it, resource management and balance, and so on is still up in the air. At the very least it means we’ll have an additional avenue to obtain loot aside from random drops.
Anthem has a Strider, a base of operations that’s also mobile where players can restock and even manage gear outside of Fort Tarsis. It’s very much like Monster Hunter World’s campsites in that regard. Destiny has a proper inventory system to manage the player’s selection of weapons and armour. However, if you leave something in the Vault, then you either need a separate application to transfer items over or to return to the Tower to retrieve it.
No Season Pass
Bioware confirmed that Anthem would not have a Season Pass at launch. Executive producer Mark Darrah explained that though there will be more content after launch, the developer didn’t want to split the player base by locking certain story elements behind paid expansions. Note that this doesn’t mean no paid DLC at all (Darrah provided the example of a new Javelin in the future possibly requiring purchase). However, it’s still less costly, especially when you need to purchase Destiny 2, the Curse of Osiris and Warmind just to play Forsaken. Yes, even if you have no interest whatsoever in either of those DLC. The game itself also has microtransactions and loot boxes. Anthem at least avoids the later while allowing for paid cosmetics which can still be earned through gameplay. Whether those paid cosmetics are left up to some form of RNG remains to be seen.
Another cool feature that Anthem indulges in is wildlife, from hulking beasts guarding ruins and fending off indigenous beasts to airborne creatures interfering with turret fire. World bosses aside, the wildlife presents the potential for many interesting gameplay wrinkles. Destiny does have areas where different enemy factions may fight each other but has no wildlife as such to really interact with.
Disable Damage Numbers
Role-playing games depend on damage numbers. It allows players to calculate the “optimal DPS” required in some situations. One major complaint with Anthem was that its damage numbers and “floaties” were simply too large. Bioware revealed that these can be turned off entirely but whether the current font will be adjusted remains to be seen. Contrast this to Destiny where damage numbers can’t be switched off. They’re not nearly as obnoxious though so really, it depends on what you’re comfortable with.
A relatively minor point but still one worth noting – you can’t damage yourself in Anthem so forget about exploding yourself with grenades. In Destiny, self-damage can range from comical (trying to shoot the Templar and forgetting the barrier that comes up) to irritating (lining up a rocket and having a teammate walk in front of you, the explosion resulting in your death).
A Freelancer is a person in Anthem and thus they can control several Javelin. Only four Javelins – Colossus, Ranger, Storm and Interceptor – exist at this point. However, Bioware revealed in a video with IGN about how the story, events and endgame would work that there are other Javelins. These complement the current selection in the “best way” possible apparently., Meanwhile in Destiny, you usually have one class restricted to three subclasses at most as a single character. While Anthem could potentially have different configurations for its Javelins, you’re basically stuck with whatever perks Bungie decides you should use in Destiny (and in Destiny 2, those choices are even more limited).
Mech vs. Mech Combat
In Destiny, you battle all manner of races from the Fallen, Cabal and Vex to the Hive and the Taken. Though Anthem has its own share of enemy factions, the Dominion is interesting because it involves fighting other humans. They also have their own Javelins so for all intents and purposes, it’s possible to engage in mech-on-mech action. Fighting other humans is nothing new in this day and age but Destiny doesn’t do it, even in some places where it would make sense (though the upcoming battle with Prince Uldren in Destiny 2: Forsaken could sort of qualify).