[I've been here a while and never blogged so pardon the bare-bones page and blog formatting.]
Generic, derivative, dated, schizophrenic. Wait for a sale. The analogy I came up with last night was: It's the Huel of modern shooter looters. It takes a bunch of elements and blends them into a brown paste that's passably edible but once you're done you realize it was bland and you're still hungry.
Now for the lengthier version:
I've played since it launched and have completed all four classes. I won't be buying it at launch, maybe on deep sale. The biggest issue with this game is it is painfully generic and utterly schizophrenic. What does it want to be?
- Is it a cover shooter?
No. The healing and ability mechanics are all designed around not staying in cover. The cover mechanics themselves are poorly implemented and clunky. The game itself tells you that you have to play aggressive, and the devs have said cover is a last resort.
- So it's a run-and-gun shooter?
No. Everything is too slow for it to be successful to play as a run-and-gun. Movement, rolling, ability deployment, aiming down sights, reloading -- all are too slow to be a smooth experience. Janky aiming also prevents it. You can increase your movement sensitivity but that doesn't change the inherent speed of rolling or reloading or ADS. There's no crouch, no slide, no jump, character acceleration is inconsistent, and bullet and melee hit registration up close is buggy with frequent phantom 'hits'. After playing this I went back and played the Bulletstorm re-release and that is a good example of a run-and-gun where gunplay weaves into skill abilities. That old game with a slightly fresh coat of paint felt smoother to play than this demo ever did.
- Is it a looter?
Sure but not a very good one. Nothing about the loot made me want to keep going. I hate to say it but I found the loot in Anthem more interesting -- mostly because the skills were also loot items, so you weren't just looking for gear and guns and the drops would make you consider other build possibilities. The itemization so far in the demo is utterly ho-hum. And most of the gear came from chests rather than kills. This would be better if exploring areas at our leisure was encouraged, but it's not. Unless you're on an active quest, or replaying an old quest, nothing in the areas spawn, except for other quest giving NPCs. You can walk out of Rift Town and into the quest area if you want, but without a quest active there's nothing there to do. Nothing to kill. Nothing to loot or explore.
- Is it an RPG?
Sorta, but not a deep one. Although we get limited skill points in the demo, the full trees are viewable. The skill trees are mostly passive abilities that you'll buy and forget about. I see a potential for future builds, but they're going to be very linear and most people will likely end up picking a single cookie cutter build per class. Meanwhile, classes are in an absolutely disparate place right now. I can roll through content on higher world tiers on the Trickster and Devastator without using green or blue weapons or spending my skill points; not so much on the Pyro or Techno, who seem to need every thing to luck out their way to be viable, even in a group.
- So what is the game trying to be?
I really don't know, and I'm wondering if People Can Fly themselves know. It feels like a game stuck in the past and lacking a cohesive design idea. If it's going to be a run and gun, it needs to be faster, the maps need to be redesigned, and we need a slide/jump/crouch mechanic. If it's going to be a cover shooter, the cover design needs a rework and the core healing mechanics also need retooling. But with a month to launch, neither of these will happen.
My final take away as I closed the demo a final time was: This isn't worth buying at launch, it needs at least another six months in the oven, and all this has done is make me want to play the Mass Effect Legendary Edition release even more.