I have been on vacation for two weeks, and I’ve returned to find that in that time, not all that much has changed or even been announced with Anthem, the game I stubbornly refuse to fully give up hope for. The silence is about to be broken with a livestream tomorrow detailing a new Stronghold coming to the game, but it has been eerily quiet. It’s not just that we don’t hear much from the once-chatty devs anymore, it’s things like how the official Anthem account hasn’t even tweeted in almost a week.
That has left it to fans to do some digging themselves about what’s going on, and they’ve unearthed a number of job postings from BioWare to work on Anthem specifically, and positions like Senior Systems Designer (Loot) have been particularly eye-catching. Here’s part of thsy listing:
“BioWare is looking for a creative and passionate Senior Systems Designer with experience in Loot Systems to join our studio in either Austin or Edmonton to work on our newest IP Anthem. Building a truly great server side loot system, that is scalable, has modern concepts like streak-breaking, and easily modifiable data formats. A great loot system ensures that the players have predictable experiences that can be measured with data.”
This loot designer joins other advertised roles from item creation to the store and reward pipeline to combat balance, things that you know, are pretty key to a loot shooter.
These listings suggest some good news and bad news to me. First, the good.
I don’t agree with the notion that it’s worrisome that BioWare is hiring loot and reward loop people for Anthem right now. I’m hearing things like “shouldn’t they have done this already???” with the implication being that they don’t already have people working on this stuff. These listings show that they want to bolster those teams and perhaps bring in a fresh perspective to redesign some of the areas in which Anthem is weak. That’s a good thing.
It’s also a good sign that BioWare really is committed to the long haul. It took games like Diablo and Destiny and The Division anywhere from months to a year or more to get loot right, and it seems Anthem is following on that same path. As much as it would have been nice to get things right at launch, it stands to reason that BioWare would not be expanding its core design team for Anthem if it was not going to be working on the game for a long while to come, which suggests a different trajectory to say, Mass Effect Andromeda, which was quickly dropped like a hot rock after its underwhelming launch.
The bad news?
I mean, it isn’t great that you have a loot/reward system in the first place that needs to be redesigned, and even if it’s good to know that BioWare, and presumably EA by proxy, is in this for the long haul, the emphasis is on the word “long” there. BioWare has a roadmap that runs out of runway pretty soon and we really have very little idea what comes after, given that the game is not releasing traditional DLC packs.
If these are roles that are just being recruited for now, it is likely that whatever changes these new team members implement, whatever they design or redesign will not hit the game for many, many months to come. I’ve said before that it’s probably in Anthem’s best interest to have its own Reaper of Souls/Taken King moment that everyone can point to as a place when it turns a clear corner. 2-5% improvements every few weeks or so are probably less impactful than a huge, 100% improvement in a year or however long it takes. But until the biggest changes do arrive, the playerbase is kind of in limbo. It’s hard to know whether or not it’s at all worth it to currently keep playing Anthem assuming the kinds of big changes that are probably coming. Is it worth trying to farm sparse legendaries when BioWare could triple the drop rate tomorrow? Is it worth hunting down the perfect build when BioWare could end up scrapping and changing the entire loot/gear system? I don’t know, which is why other games with fewer things up in the air may feel like better alternatives right now.
I hope Anthem gets the new team members and fixes that it needs. Ultimately, the game will be better for it. It’s just not clear when exactly this better version is going to get here in full.
We may be finally arriving at the ultimate event of season 8 of Fortnite, the great excavation of Loot Lake. For weeks now, we have seen two “world events” happening. A helicopter landing at a dozen+ spots around the map, and three different dig sites where players have been asked to chip in and unearth a number of pits, hacking through lumps of dirt with hundreds of millions of HP.
Now, both of those events have combined. The Fortnite helicopter has landed at Loot Lake, and the entire area is now surrounded by a number of steamshovels that sure make it look like we are about to be asked to dig up the entire bottom of the lake.
This, of course, is the famed site of the cube explosion where Kevin disintegrated and became Cubehenge after an otherworldly butterfly cutscene. But we have seen the Cube dissolve into the expanse of an entire lake, back when this was a lake, so I don’t think it’s out of the question that we could see the return of the Cube in some way, which would link what we thought were two disparate storylines, the one started by the comet which led to the Visitor which led to the rocket which led to the Cube, and the one that began when the Ice King showed up with his floating fortress.
So far, all three dig sites have had different end results. The first one gave us a volcano vent. The second flooded the pit with lava. The third revealed a giant metal door in the floor. If we start digging up Loot Lake, it’s anyone’s guess what we could find there, although I have to believe that it probably has something to do with the arrival of Ruin, the Week 8 Discovery skin which we could uh, discovery somehow in this Loot Lake dig.
I’m not exactly sure how this will play out, but it seems like that at least a good chunk of Loot Lake will end up being filled by those breakable dirt patches that players will be asked to chop through. It has taken around a full day to dig out these other sites, so if Loot Lake becomes a much, much bigger site, maybe that could take…a full week of everyone working together? Possibly less, if it’s clear that this is “the big one” so more people could be encouraged to participate.
I am hesitant to bring up the eternal “we’re going to fight a world boss” theory, but…maybe? Fortnite players have expected some sort of world boss fight ever since this ability to track damage across all serves made its way into the game. And possibly even before that when we were seeing monster tracks on the ground as early as season 3. It is possible that we may dig up Ruin or a dragon or something and have to fight it at the end, but I have made this prediction a half dozen times now so I am hesitant to make it again. We’ll see, I guess.
Digging should commence in the next day or two. See you out there.