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Anthem Demo Full Breakdown: 20 mins of gameplay & next level visuals

EA may have given us our first true glimpse at Anthem a few weeks ago during E3, but they’ve finally released the full 20 minute developer-led demo for the public to see. This slice shows off mechanics, the huge open-world setting, and some more of those sweet Scars.

Now that we’ve had a clear and lengthy look at the game, it’s hard not to feel hyped. I’ll be leading your hand as we delve into 20 minutes of the newest Anthem demo that features explosions, Scars, and the Iron Man-esque gameplay we’ve all come to expect.

anthem demo

Anthem Demo reveals important plot information

Right off the bat, this Anthem demo introduces us to a couple of characters that will be pivotal to the game’s story. Haluk, who we met during E3, seems to be the comedic relief and head of the Strider Crew (the name of that large 4 legged machine you are in). The other character introduced during this Anthem demo is Faye, a mysterious character that’s been touted as being crucial to the story, so keep an eye on her. The next, and last character we meet during the Anthem demo is Owen, another member of the Strider Crew, and a Cypher. Now, to those that don’t know, BioWare has announced that the Cypher is the human equivalent of an AI, constantly talking your ear off with info and objectives. This Anthem demo doesn’t confirm if Owen will be the player character’s Cypher.

Next, they show what looks to be the load-out screen for objectives and exploration. Here, you are able to party up with friends, and from what I can see on the right, add consumables. My only real question about this is whether or not you’ll be able to free-roam around environments, or if you’ll have to delve into an area with a specified object just like in Monster Hunter. After confirming your load-out, you’ll be on your way.

It’s at this moment that the player leaves the Strider, and is lifted towards the outside world. In the demo, we see the lift carries the player upwards, and party members begin to land beside the starting point. As the squad flies towards the objective, the narrator explains that the world Anthem is set in isn’t whole, with the gods known as the Shapers having left without a trace. It’s up to the player to traverse what’s left of their creations.

anthem demo

Combat looks similar to other BioWare titles, but with a fresh take

From what I saw in the Anthem demo, as well as what I’ve read about people playing the game, the combat and the flying provide a fresh feel that is satisfying to both watch and control. With grounded mechanics such having your jets being able to over heat, and having to perform actions such as flying through a waterfall to cool it down seems like an interesting twist on what we’ve come to expect from BioWare.

Later into the Anthem demo, we get out first view of the combat. With a third-person over-the-shoulder angle, it’s hard to deny that it’s highly reminiscent of the combat in Mass Effect. Every bullet shoots with a satisfying thunk, and you’ll see damage values by default. For those of you seeking a more immersive experience, BioWare has confirmed that you’ll be able to toggle off damage values.

If there’s one thing I loved from this demo, it’s without a doubt how satisfying the gameplay is shaping up to be. At one point in the demo, Colossus pulls out a large weapon that launches a hell of an explosive. The satisfaction I felt reminded me of my time playing Just Cause, and how everything you do creates a chain of explosions.

anthem demo

Visuals and presentation are top-notch during all 20 mins of the Anthem demo

Oh, and as for the visuals? It’s a real treat on the eyes! I’ve got to hand it to the art team. With seamless transitions, hundreds of objects flying in the air, and attention to detail to everything from rusty watchtowers to sprawling jungles, the atmosphere of this game is just astonishing. So far, it’s really shaping up to be a world I’d want to spend hours just flying around in.

Soon after flying through deadly enemy territory, the trio stops in order to allow the narrator to explain something (speaking of which, can we just end the cringey fake narration trend?). That something, is the arrival of a fourth party member who goes on to explain that she is only level 1 while everyone else is level 30. Now, this segment is interesting because it makes it clear that this game offers level-scaling, which will allow players to party up regardless of their level. For a social-centric game, this is pretty crucial seeing as how some players don’t have the time in order to catch up to their higher-level friends. It’s clear that BioWare intends to make Anthem as accessible as possible.

Soon after, we see multiple scenes that were present in the Anthem demo we saw at E3, so I won’t be fully recapping those. After a few scenes, we see the party traversing an underground cave. They soon discover an “Arcanist Resonance”, a rune that holds ties to the game’s lore. Hopefully Anthem will offer some sort of in-game cortex that allows players to stay refreshed on all the narrative threads going on.

anthem demo

Deadly bosses are central to Anthem’s gameplay

After an arduous journey, the party finally reaches their objective, and square-up against a boss. That boss is none other than the Swarm Tyrant, the source of all those weird eggs that are present throughout the demo. Small spider-like mob creatures swarm the players, while the boss shoots players with some odd-liquid and rampages around with its front arms. Like most large bosses in games, the Swarm Tyrant has a weak point in the form of egg-sacs that are on its back. The boss fight goes on for a decent 3-4 minutes, before ending with a sudden cliffhanger.

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All in all, BioWare has knocked it out of the park with Anthem thus far. If they keep it up, I’m sure Anthem will have a decent shot as an early contender for GOTY 2019. Keep an eye out for any further info as we inch closer towards Anthem‘s February 22nd release date.