Anthem is still a long way off but even so there's a kind of uncertainty around the whole thing—a lack of confidence, if you will, that hasn't really been seen with previous BioWare projects. Part of that has to do with early impressions—our first real look at the game left us with "mixed feelings"—but there's also a vague sense that the studio is not what it once was. Mass Effect: Andromeda was an unexpected letdown, and Mass Effect 1 and 2 lead writer Drew Karpyshyn, who returned to BioWare in 2015 and was working on Anthem, departed (again) last month.
Presumably to address some of those concerns, general manager Casey Hudson has launched a "studio update" blog discussing "our vision for BioWare, what that means for our upcoming titles, and share some stories about development as we head towards the launch of Anthem."
"When I returned to BioWare last summer, Mass Effect: Andromeda had just been released and there was a significant movement among players asking for a story DLC that would answer questions surrounding the fate of the quarians. As you know, we were not able to deliver story DLC for Andromeda—this was as frustrating for us as it was for players, and it was something we knew we had to solve in future games," Hudson wrote.
"That experience ultimately became a defining moment in refocusing BioWare’s mission. We need to delight players with new experiences and innovation, but we must stay focused on the importance of the world, character, and storytelling elements that players expect from our games. And our games must be designed to continue delivering new stories and experiences, in an ongoing relationship with players in the worlds we’re evolving together."
That's the "spirit" that's driving the development of Anthem, Hudson said: "It will be unlike anything you've played, but if we do it right, it will feel very distinctly BioWare."
Hopefully not too BioWare: As good as Mass Effect 3 was, the "conversation/loyalty mission" felt a little too mechanically routine for my liking, more akin to checkmarks on a list than organic development of characters and relationships. On the other hand, if it can blend a big, sprawling, Destiny-styled game world with BioWare narrative trappings done right, I'll be all over it. Anthem is currently expected to be out sometime in 2019.