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November 02, 2018

Taking a deep dive into the Javelin's of Bioware's Anthem


Electronic Arts and Bioware were at Paris Games Week recently and they took along Anthem, where they gave a deep dive into the Javelins that players will wear when they get to play the game next year.

Producer Thomas Singleton was the man to take us through what was being shown, and with a little humour he kicked off the presentation. Before he began the deep dive, Thomas was kind enough to give a little explanation about what Anthem is and highlighted three parts that all players need to be aware of. The first thing is that you can fly around, walk with style and deliver superhero style moves, in one of four types of Javelin suits, giving friends multiple combinations of suits to use when exploring the world. The second thing is that Anthem has been designed and built as a shared world experience, meaning that each choice you make will shape your experience, alongside that of your friends. Finally, even though the game is meant to be played with friends, those who play it will still find a rich story, something that Bioware has become legendary for over the years and with that, everyone was caught up.


Players will recall the moments early on in the released footage, where the player character stepped inside of the Javelin for the first time, these are highly advanced mechanical armour, built to help the humans of the world to survive, both inside the walls and outside. The suit that most players will be familiar with, is the Ranger suit, that was the one that we saw at E3 2017 and it is the first suit that players will get to experience, in fact Thomas highlighted that this is the suit you will learn how to pilot a Javelin with. The Ranger suit will be the one that will work for most players as it offers the best balance of offense and defence, making it perfect for fighting on the front lines, as it has the best of both and while it is not the most powerful or the most defensible, it is also used by the Royal Guard, the soldiers that patrol the walls of Fort Tarsis and protect the city.

Each of the Javelins, no matter which one you end up with when you can choose, comes equipped with a small range of tools, the Ranger suit comes packed with an electric mace, perfect for those that like to run in and engage in some melee action. The Ranger will also come with three unique gear slots, one for support and the other two for offence, thankfully, these do not need any form of ammo to use them, but they do have a cooldown, so using them at the wrong time, may come back to hurt later on. One of the gear options you can equip is the Grenade launcher, perfect for dishing out some serious firepower, as a grenade launcher, you can swap ammo types out, you can rock a standard frag or for something a little more chill, you can use the frost grenade, which does exactly what you would expect.


Those looking to really lay waste to the enemies can equip the seeker grenade, which as its name suggests will seek out the enemies, it does this by breaking apart into smaller pieces and locks onto a nearby enemy and can be quite effective if you are in range. The other offensive gear slot packs a wrist mounted launcher, which allows you to choose more specialist ammo, like the homing missile, which as its name suggests, will home in on an enemy and take them out, plus anyone silly enough to stand still. If you want to be a little nasty about things, you can use the launcher to shoot poison darts at your enemies, which if they land, will slowly reduce the enemy’s health over time. But what about for those who want to play as more of a support, well that is where the final gear slot comes into play, with the muster point. Once activated, your allies who stand in form behind you will see a big boost to their damage for as long as they remain in the space or the skill remains active.


Now though, we come to the ultimate skills, again something that each Javelin has and is unique to each one as well and using them is not just a matter of dealing out more damage, these will change the game a lot. For the Ranger, their ultimate is to launch a host of micro missiles, something that we have seen in action at E3 before, you lock onto as many enemies as you can and let loose the barrage. If you are facing a large enemy, you can also launch all the missiles against that one, taking out a massive chunk of their shield and health. Combining these parts together mean that you can take to the sky and shoot at enemies from above, or rush in on the ground, freeze and enemy in place and then taken them down with your electric mace, the options are there to explore.


After watching some footage of the Ranger taking down a host of enemies, we moved onto the Colossus, the big guy, aka The Tank or as Thomas likes to describe him, Get out of my way. The Colossus is all about power, so if you like to blow stuff up, then you will be in heaven with this Javelin, it is important to note though, that whilst he is powerful his size makes him slow. His size though means whilst he can deal out some big amounts of damage, with his included shield, he is also able to soak up a lot as well and if you get him close to his target, his close quarter skills will come out in force. The Colossus suit is based off another Javelin, the Javelin of Dawn, which Thomas refused to elaborate on, but he did state that it was also the suit of choice, worn by General Tarsis, when she went into battle, the story of which will be discovered in the game, again Thomas refused to say anything about it.


Like the Ranger, the Colossus also comes packed with a wrist mounted launcher, but instead of missiles or darts, it is loaded with mortars, including types for wide open spaces. If that sounds like it won't deal out enough damage, then you will be happy to know that the Colossus also comes packed with a heavy cannon, a lot of projectiles and even an acid spitter, which just like the Ranger takes enemies down with toxins. If you want to leave behind the attacks for a bit and focus on support, the Colossus has the ability to taunt the enemies and draw their attention, letting your allies get to cover. Combine that taunt, with the Colossus’ shield and you have the perfect distraction to let your squad make use of, flanking the enemy to attack from the rear. Of course, just like the Ranger, the Colossus has an Ultimate attack and it’s a big one, explosions are everywhere with this one, Thomas described it as a Michael Bay level of explosion, which is a very exciting way to describe anything.


Having mentioned the Storm class before, Thomas moved onto it and noted that the reception to the Storm has been quite crazy, with a lot of mystery surrounding it, which is no accident as the Storm was not created by the Freelancers, but in actual fact, it was crafted by the Dominion, their enemies. Things with the Storm are not what you might expect though, given their creation by the enemy, they operate a little different as they run on a technology called Seals, and these Seals allow the kinetic energy of the Javelin pilot, which could be you, to tap into a higher power. What that power is, is still unknown as Thomas refused to explain further, so while we know a little more about the Storm, there is still some mystery left to discover.


While we were not given more details about the source of the power, we were told about what powers you would have access to, one of which is the ability to hover a lot longer than the other Javelins. You might think that staying in the air would make you a target and you would be right, but the upside to doing that is that the Storm’s shields are at their strongest.  But you can’t have all that power, without some side effects and they are a big one, as when on the ground, you are at your most vulnerable and you will need to hang back. The Storm is not designed to get in and mix it up melee style, ranged attacks when on the ground or attacking from the air, is where this one thrives, so if you are someone who likes to rush in, either don’t pick the Storm, or bring someone in a Colossus with you.


But should you feel the need to throw caution to the wind and mix it up on the ground, the Storm does have a cool attack, with its melee as it is part attack and part flash move, as you get in, hit and get back quickly. The other weapons, that take up the gear slots also take inspiration from the higher power as they are elemental in nature, some fire, some lightning and some more freeze, each has a part to play in the Storm’s arsenal. For freezing, you will summon up an ice storm, it’s part of the name, so of course it was going to have that has you throwing large hunks of ice around, a lightning storm, well that really needs no description. But what about the other gear slot you say, well that one is something special as it is a Nexus power, which allows you to cool down the abilities of the other members of your squad, letting them unleash the power again. Of course, the Ultimate here is perhaps the most impressive visually as its called Elemental Fury and takes all the parts, fire, ice and lightning and crafts a massive storm of all three, which dishes out impressive amounts of damage, it really is super impressive.


But as we know there are four Javelins and this one might be last, but least is not a part of its descriptor and that is the Interceptor, in fact this is so new, this was the first time they were showing it off to anyone outside of the company. If you think of the Interceptor as a Ninja suit, it is not far off the mark, initially created to be a scout suit, as the games story goes, it had to be quick and nimble as all good scouts need to be. Where as the Storm is not a fan of getting in close, the Interceptor is at home rushing in and dealing out massive amounts of damage, flipping around like Yoda and then taking to the air, to repeat in the sky. While the Interceptor loves to dish out some damage, it does fall short of the Ranger in its defensive options, meaning its best to get in slice up the enemies and then get out again, before moving back in after a breather.


The Interceptor has two gear types, one is the Strike and the other Assault, for the latter of the two, you can do things like throwing cluster mines into crowds of enemies, which explode upon contact. Or if you want something even flashier, which is kinda of hard to do after an explosion, you can use the twin blades that the Interceptor uses and launch them at your enemies and they will seek them out, just like a ninja’s throwing star. The other gear option is called Strike it has perhaps the most powerful item around for its use, itself, when you use Strike will extend itself out for attack, letting you reach those harder to touch enemies. Like all the other suits, the third gear slot is for support and its to help your team, called Rally Cry, it removes all effects from your team mates. If you have someone stuck in ice or suffering from another effect, triggering this will remove all effects, letting everyone get back into the battle. Finally, again, we come to the Ultimate and as a ninja suit, it uses its blades, but powers them up into Assassin’s blades, supercharging the suit and letting you go on a rampage, taking out any enemy that is foolish enough to stand in your way.


That was it, Thomas concluded with a little presentation of the Interceptor in action and man is it fast, of course, these are the bases for each Javelin as they will evolve based on how you play and fir them out, things could be quite different from what I have written here. With a demo releasing ahead of the game, I can’t wait to get some proper time with each of them, to try and the one that suits my style of playing.

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