VIDEO: Anthem's rules of flight, also available on YouTube.
Anthem makes a poor first impression. You'll sit through cutscenes that feel longer than they are, tiring dumps of story that depict dark, sneering legions of bad guys going to battle with you, the good guys, over ancient alien technology. You'll shoot hordes of alien bugs, the rats of sci-fi RPGs, and traverse a vast rocky terrain a little too reminiscent of Andromeda's opening minutes before meeting the funny British guy, the stern militant leader, the nervous tech expert, or the mysterious tattooed space wizard. If it sounds familiar, it's because Mass Effect exists.
And yet, somehow, I'm a sucker for it all. I have the javelin controls to thank. Flying is a dream, Anthem's answer to Destiny's headshots: the thing that will make its questionable bits easier to endure. Watch the video above to see what I mean.
Everything in Anthem's design—the overwhelming fights and wide open environments, the animations and intuitive controls that link every action so fluidly—feels made to encourage taking off and landing and dashing around as much as possible. The characters might end up being deep and interesting people. The story might subvert itself in surprising ways. The mission design might end up being more than flying to an objective and shooting stuff on repeat, but even if none of that is the case, piloting each javelin feels so good I'll be playing Anthem anyway.
With the demo coming out on Friday for VIP members and in early February for everyone else, I'm sure the quest design and characters and world will be divisive subjects. Flight won't. Show me your moves.