Anthem's big Cataclysm event has finally begun

(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

Two weeks ago, Anthem's first "pre-Cataclysm challenges" went live, kicking off what we expected to be a two-week period leading into the much-hyped, world-changing Cataclysm endgame events. Just slightly more than two weeks later, the big moment is upon us, as players may now embark upon a new story mission to track Dr. Harken and unravel the mystery of the Catalcysm.

"Battle Vara Brom and her forces in a dangerous new game mode that evolves over time," the Anthem 1.3.0 update notes state. "Teamwork is heavily encouraged as you battle against the dangerous environment and time itself, unlock secrets, and master the Cataclysm to earn all new rewards and rank up the leaderboard."

Cataclysm is available to all players who have completed the "Incursion" mission, and will feature the "Inversion" modifiers that we took at look at in our May preview of the new mode. Inversions "change the way your Javelin interacts with the environment" in different ways, some good and some bad; two Inversions, selected from the list below, will be active each week during the Cataclysm event:

  • Ultimate Boost: Ultimate meter from kills is increased.
  • Turbo Gear: Gear recharge rate is increased.
  • Lightning Rod: Close-range kills chain lightning to nearby enemies.
  • Close Encounters: Shotguns and Machine Pistols deal increased damage.
  • Precision Operator: Snipers and Marksman Rifles deal increased damage.
  • Immunity Pack: Ammo pickups grant brief immunity to damage.
  • On the Edge: At low armor, damage dealt increases.
  • Soldier's Reward: Killing an enemy restores a small amount of shields.
  • From the Skies: Heat build-up while hovering is decreased.
  • Air Support: Defeating an enemy while hovering grants increased damage while on the ground for a short time; stacks up to 5 times.
  • Broken Magazine: Weapons have no spare ammo, but enemies drop ammo more often.
  • Running on Empty: Firing the last shot in a weapon's clip increases all damage for a short time.

The 1.3.0 update also removes the luck stat, which impacted item drop rate and rarity, from all items, and replaces it with bonus armor. Following the change, drop rates from Easy to Grandmaster 1 difficulty modes will work as though players had maximum Luck equipped prior to the update, while Legendary and Masterwork drop rates at Grandmaster 2 and 3 levels have increased for all players, including those who previously had maximum Luck equipped.

Anthem's Alliance system, which awards in-game currency based on a separate Alliance XP track, now includes Guild members as well as Friends when calculating social rewards (kind of odd that it didn't do that in the first place), Stronghold Chests are now available at the end of each Legendary Contract, and there are now three new classes of weapons to choose from, along with Masterwork/Legendary variants:

Pulse Accelerators use seal technology to generate destructive energy.

  • "Bad Omen" - Charges to fire a burst of energy projectiles.
  • "Rain Maker" - Fires an energy burst that explodes into smaller projectiles.
  • "Grave Digger" - Fires an increasingly powerful stream of energy.

Volt Casters use seal technology to focus ambient electricity

  • “Jarra’s Wrath" - Blasts a short-range lightning arc.
  • "Lightning Rod” - Calls down lightning on a specific location.
  • "Flashfire" - Fires a lightning attack that jumps from enemy to enemy.

Blade Slingers charge a circular projectile with dynamic force.

  • "Razorwing" - Launches a heavy blade that bounces between targets.
  • "Riza’s Ripper" - Fires a barbed blade that inflicts ongoing shrapnel damage.
  • "Shard Storm" - Launches experimental crystal projectiles across the immediate area.

Melee has also been "fundamentally" changed in the update. There are new melee gear pieces that will enable combos not previously available, and melee damage is now scaled based on actual item bonuses.

"Previously, melee damage started at a base value and then automatically increased in power based on the average gear score of the player. This had the effect of emulating an item of the average rarity and level for players, plus some average assumed inscription bonuses (and Masterwork effects if they are the appropriate level)," Bioware explained.

"Now that melee is its own actual item, it no longer uses this automatic scaling, but uses actual real scaling for the item and the bonuses that occur on that item. This means that if players want to get their melee damage back to what it was, they need to get a melee weapon of the appropriate rarity with similar inscription rolls."

The good news is that because melee now functions as an actual item, the potential damage ceiling is much higher than it was under the old system, which relied on "assumed" inscription bonuses in the middle of a possible range.

"We now include both melee damage bonus and weapon damage bonus as modifying melee weapon damage (not melee gear piece damage for Interceptors), so there are more total damage sources that boost your melee than previously existed. This should result in higher additive bonuses than were previously applied, which will help offset some of the lowered base damage," the notes state. "In addition (based on PTS feedback and iteration), we have increased the base damage value of all melee gear by 50%. Increasing the base value is a multiplicative change."

The difficulty has also been dialed down in various places, particularly at the Grandmaster 2 and 3 levels, and a number of tweaks, bug fixes, and improvements have been made.

Anthem global community lead Andrew Johnson said the update weighs in at close to 16GB, so block out time for that as required. 

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.