It’s been a busy couple of weeks, but I’ve managed to fit in the time for both a bit of gaming, and a blog about what I’ve been up to.
Anthem: Wading into melee
I’ve said before that I’m not a big fan of shooter games. I don’t hate them, but I don’t love them. They always end up feeling a bit shallow to me.
Anthem isn’t like that. In terms of pure moment to moment gameplay, it’s easily the most fun I’ve ever had playing a shooter. It stands with the best of RPGs and RTS games for addictive, satisfying gameplay.
I’m an incredible slowpoke when it comes to this game, so I still haven’t reached max level or finished the main story. I feel like I’m close to the latter goal, but I’m still only level 18 (cap is 30) at the time of this writing.
I have, however, unlocked two new Javelins, and while the Storm remains my overall favourite, they’ve both proven surprisingly fun.
First, I went Colossus. Going from a squishy mage to a tanky bruiser seemed like a good change of pace.
At first, I wasn’t feeling the Colossus. It seemed very weak to me. Most of your survivability comes from a physical shield you can throw up, but you can’t use your guns or abilities while the shield is equipped. It seemed pointless to me, at least when playing solo. Sure, I can’t die, but I also can’t fight back.
Then I figured out you can bash people with the shield. It all started falling into place after that.
Now I’m having a grand old time charging into the fray and weaving between guns, abilities, and smashing things with sheer brute force. Tank classes can be hit and miss for me, but the Colossus is definitely my kind of tank.
After the Colossus, I was torn on what Javelin to unlock next, but I decided to go with the speedy Interceptor. Like the Colossus, the Interceptor is focused on close range fighting, but unlike the Colossus, it’s even more of a glass cannon than the Storm.
I like playing an Interceptor, but it’s not relaxing. You have to constantly be in motion, and a moment’s error or hesitation can cost you dearly. It’s very exciting when it goes well, but it can be pretty stressful. It’s not a Javelin I’d recommend to new players, that’s for sure.
There’s likely more I could say in regards to Anthem, but that would waste too much time that I could instead spend playing. I maintain some concerns about its longevity, but it’s definitely turned out to be a much better experience than I expected.
Bound by Flame: Wasted potential
I’ve been so caught up in Anthem I’ve forgotten to talk about what I was playing beforehand.
To kill time in the weeks leading up to Anthem’s release, I delved into my Steam backlog and gave the action RPG Bound by Flame a chance.
I want to like Bound by Flame. It’s got a good premise. You’re a mercenary possessed by a demon who could consume your soul, but who also has the power to save humanity from an apocalypse brought on by the Ice Lords, a faction of undead sorcerers with a strong Fallen Lords/Ten Who Were Taken vibe.
The trouble with Bound by Flame is that, well, it’s just not that good. Pretty much every aspect of the game is bogged down by a lack of polish and a general feeling of low budget and amateurishness.
The voice acting is hit and miss at best. The dialogue writing is dodgy throughout. The menus and journal entries are full of typos. The story is poorly executed, with twists that come out of nowhere with no apparent explanation. According to the achievements, there’s romances of some kind, but I never figured out how to initiate any of them despite exploring all dialogue options with all characters.
The game’s main virtue is its combat, which is mostly very fun and what carried me through the game. The dodge mechanic is very well done — if you time it right, your character will automatically rush back in for a riposte, and it’s super satisfying — and I like how you’re encouraged to mix magical and physical attacks.
But even then, there are still issues. The difficulty tends to be a bit over-tuned, even on the lowest setting.
When last I played, I spent about ten minutes on what I presume is the final boss battle, an absolutely grueling slog, only to die moments away from victory. I had to start over at the beginning of the fight, and it frustrated me so much I logged off rather than attempt it again. Then Anthem came out, and I haven’t been back since.
The completionist in me feels I should finish it off to see how it ends, but I’m struggling to find the motivation.
It’s time for another round-up of my latest articles at MMO Bro. First, I pat myself on the back for cracking the secret to a successful MMO. Next, I argue that MMOs should be built for more alts, not less.
Finally, I vent about the inescapable negativity that seems to be swallowing more and more of the world of online gaming.