“Over the coming months we will be focusing on a longer-term redesign of the experience, specifically working to reinvent the core gameplay loop with clear goals, motivating challenges and progression with meaningful rewards — while preserving the fun of flying and fighting in a vast science-fantasy setting,” wrote Casey Hudson, Bioware’s general manager and former director of the studio’s heralded Mass Effect trilogy. “And to do that properly we’ll be doing something we’d like to have done more of the first time around — giving a focused team the time to test and iterate, focusing on gameplay first.”
This is not unlike what Square Enix did with Final Fantasy 14, an attempt at a World of Warcraft-level, massive-online, role-playing game that also failed in spectacular form. The game was rereleased separately a full three years later as Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn, which now boasts a thriving, happy community of about 18 million players, as of December.
Plans for this change were first mentioned by YouTube creator LegacyKillaHD in October, and later reported by Kotaku in November. Kotaku also published a scathing report last year on how BioWare’s creative and work processes failed the game, including long crunch hours and a lack of a concrete vision for the title.
The beleaguered game launched to some excitement that quickly died once players discovered that there wasn’t much to do in the game. Worse yet, the story was shockingly lackluster from a studio known for its storytelling. Another big complaint was the lack of loot in a game billed as a loot shooter.
A long-promised “cataclysm” event launched during the summer after several months of delay, but it failed to produce much excitement.
Hudson said the “current version” of Anthem will stay up, and it will only have events and store refreshes. Hudson did not specify whether the new version of Anthem would be a separate release like Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn.
On Anthem’s subreddit forum (which has been the home to Anthem hopefuls and believers), the news was met with some optimism. But a few users had a warning: If the retooled Anthem isn’t free, players won’t return.