Tag Archives: cataclysm

Anthem’s Cataclysm Update Wasn’t Worth The Wait

A massive storm rages overhead. Spend too much time in it and you’ll die. Enemies stalk a handful of ancient ruins scattered around a rocky beach. Take too long trying to kill them and the mission comes to an end, booting you back to the overworld map. At nearly every turn, Anthem’s new limited-time, score-based mode seems hostile to the prospect that someone might actually be interested in having some fun with it.

Cataclysm arrived yesterday, with little fanfare from BioWare. After spending several hours with it, I’m not surprised. The update adds a new activity called Echoes of Reality. It sets players loose in a large new environment punctuated by a handful of small arena fights and obtuse puzzles, then tops it all off with a boss fight that feels like it was Frankensteined together out of the already-existing ones.

It might be an otherwise nice seasonal addition in an alternate universe where Anthem is rolling along steadily with a lively player community in love with its underlying structure and progression system. But that is not the universe we live in, and instead of feeling like an impressive new milestone on the road to redemption, Cataclysm is a stark reminder of how hollow the whole Anthem experience still feels.

There are three new story missions that lead into Echoes of Reality, all of which revolve around capturing an evil scientist, Dr. Harken. He appears to have defected from the ranks of the game’s heavily militarized Dominion faction in order to assist you with trying to prevent certain disaster at the hands of a new Dominion leader, Vara Brom, who is intent on awakening Shaper relics to reassert the faction’s might.

A short cutscene plays midway through these missions to lay this all out. Why not at the beginning? I have no idea. Most of the dialogue surrounding it doesn’t feel worth the constant trips back to Fort Tarsis, the game’s hub, that are required to progress the story. That’s another way of saying it feels like the main game all over again, complete with another Strider mission that anyone who’s completed the main game will have already done a dozen times before.

Nothing about Echoes of Reality feels particularly new, either, except for the area where it takes place. This consists of a large mountain ridge overlooking a tropical bay, one ripe for exploring in the game’s jet-pack propelled exosuits. But there’s hardly any time to. A 15-minute countdown timer requires strict adherence to the tasks at hand. And even if you do set out to take a longer look at what BioWare has spent the last few months creating, most of it is obscured by a torrential downpour and the encroaching red glow of sensors warning that the storm’s about to blow up your suit.

Echoes of Reality currently features three objectives prior to the boss fight. The first consists of fighting Dominion in a small arena and then activating half a dozen glowing pillars to bring down the shield around a crystal that needs to be destroyed. The second has you fight Dominion in a slightly bigger arena while trying to collect echoes to bring down another shield around another crystal that needs to be destroyed. The hitch is that the echoes are themselves shielded, requiring one group of players to stand on pressure-plates while another grabs them. I don’t know what the oldest puzzle in the role-playing game book is, but that one’s got to be in the first few faded pages.

As an additional wrinkle, the echoes need to be taken into an underwater cavern where they power a device to unlock a fifth echo, without which the crystal’s shield won’t come down. In my own experience and based on a number of threads in the Anthem subreddit, this has caused no small amount of players a lot of frustration as they try to bring echoes into the cavern to get the fifth one while their teammates keep taking them back out to plug them into the devices protecting the crystal. It’s a simple second step that any single player would be able to figure out within a few minutes, but which becomes unintuitive and annoying when trying to corral a bunch of strangers into working together as the timer continues ticking down.

The third objective takes place in a slightly smaller arena inside a cave. There you once again fight Dominion, this time while collecting pieces of an artifact that have broken off. The pieces need to be carried, but walls of light are constantly traveling back and forth through the cave. If they hit you, the piece you’re carrying goes back to where you found it. It’s straightforward enough to feel like busywork while requiring just enough patience to be anxiety-inducing thanks to the timer.

Once that’s complete, it’s time to set off for Vara Brom. She sits at the northern edge of the map in, you guessed it, another arena, the biggest of the four. She’s giant, slow-moving, and seemingly not very dangerous save for a set of fire attacks. One of them turns the floor to lava. The other, which shoots out into the air, requiring you to take cover, will almost instantly kill you. Unless you’re paying close attention, it’s hard to know which she’s using, but unless you’re playing on the highest difficulty, it probably won’t matter. Echoes of Reality can be so hard to navigate the first few times through there was one occasion on which Vara was already half-dead by the time I caught up to my teammates, and why would I want them to wait when there’s only a minute or two left on the timer anyway?

There’s nothing narratively interesting or cinematically impressive about Echoes of Reality. It doesn’t try to tell a story, dig deeper into the game’s lore, or build up to a big, dramatic fight. Instead it feels like being yelled at by a drill sergeant and then forced to start over from scratch when the mistakes begin to pile up. Echoes of Reality is meant to be completed as quickly as possible, while obtaining as high a score as you can, usually by hitting mini-objectives along the way and putting in extra work to trigger the appearance of special mini-bosses. These additional puzzles and fights aren’t meant to be interesting. Instead, they’re meant to be completed so many times it practically becomes muscle memory. Doing so boosts efficiency, which in turn boosts your score, which in turn boosts your rewards.

In addition to treasure chests filled with new rare gear, Echoes of Reality dishes out two new currencies called major and minor crystals as progressive rewards for higher scores. They can in turn be spent at a new vendor on cosmetics, none of which seem particularly dazzling but which are a godsend for players who have been disappointed with the number and variety of goods on display at the regular cosmetic shop. These new currencies can also be spent on special new chests that have random pieces of gear inside. This week the chests feature melee weapons, which are new to this update. Different gear will be featured in subsequent weeks.

This system provides a perfectly adequate new economy for players to partake in on their quest to make further customize and improve their Javelins, but it doesn’t change the fact that Anthem feels like a car that can only drive downhill because no one ever stuck an engine in it. For anyone not in it for the collect-a-thon, there’s little to get excited about in the Cataclysm update. Anthem is still so beautiful to behold that I wish I could explore Echoes of Reality in in my own way on my own time, in all its different permutations. Instead it feels like playing an arcade game designed not to be fun but to convince you there’s a world in which it’s worth trying to collect the 10,000 tickets needed to buy the most expensive prize in the window.

Source: Kotaku.com

After Months Of Delay, Anthem’s Cataclysm Event Is Finally Live

Without any fanfare, today BioWare dropped Anthem’s biggest update since the game was released in February. Update 1.3 adds a bunch of new loot, a guild system, and the game’s long-awaited Cataclysm event, which was originally due out in May.

After a rough launch, BioWare announced a series of updates that would be coming to Anthem in March, April, and May as part of the game’s ongoing live service. That never came to pass as a bunch of features, including a guild system and a limited-time event called Cataclysm, were delayed. In June, BioWare invited players on PC to demo Cataclysm on test servers, but console players spent most of the early part of the summer with nothing new to do. Now the wait is finally over.

The event itself revolves around a series of new story missions and a new time trial-based activity, complete with a new seasonal currency players will need to earn in order to collect new gear. The activity doesn’t have a level requirement, so new and old players will be able to try it out with the difficulty adjusted accordingly. There’s also a new guild system, bolstered by a mobile app, which will let players matchmake and pool their weekly experience points in order to earn currency for the game’s cosmetic store more efficiently. The game’s luck stat, which previously affected the likelihood of rare loot dropping, is officially gone, and Legendary Contract missions will now guarantee a Stronghold-level chest upon completion. There’s also a new, melee-specific gear slot for players to customize the stats associated with their melee attack.

While players have been desperate for any bit of new content in the game, Cataclysm’s score-based dungeon runs weren’t necessarily what people had in mind. The game’s loot system, whose problems have been detailed at length, also remains largely the same as it was at launch, and armor customization is still largely hampered by the lack of options in the game’s cosmetic shop. It remains to be seen if the update is enough to help right the Anthem ship or if it’s too little, too late.

Source: Kotaku.com

A New Set Of Pre-Cataclysm Challenges Is Live In Anthem

Screenshot: BioWare (Anthem)

Over the weekend, BioWare’s loot shooter Anthem received a new set of Challenges called “The Oncoming Storm.” They appear to be a precursor to the game’s upcoming Cataclysm event, which will introduce a new limited-time mode, but players have already run into some difficulty trying to complete the Challenges due to bugs and crashes.

The Oncoming Storm” consists of three parts, all of which take place in the game’s freeplay mode. The first revolves around destroying a new set of crystals that have started appearing around the world. The second requires you to complete three separate “Crystal World Events,” activities that randomly pop up and reward you with a crystal once finished. And to complete the third, you just need to kill crystallized enemies, which are effectively Scar fighters with crystals on their backs. Getting all of this done rewards you with Coin, one of Anthem’s standard in-game currencies that can be spent on armor and materials, as well as some new decals specific to the activity to customize your Javelin with.

The Challenges are nothing to write home about, and they’re not a reason to jump back into the game by any stretch, but they at least give people who have continued playing something new to do beyond running the same Stronghold mission on loop and complaining about the loot drops at the end.

When BioWare first showed off how parts of Cataclysm would work in late May, the studio said that the event would be preceded by a two-week build-up period in which the world would slowly change and small things would be added. “The Oncoming Storm” Challenge descriptions briefly went live in the game early last week. More recently, a storm has appeared off in the distance on the northern part of the map. While the Cataclysm mission itself has been live on a public test server for PC players to try out for weeks now, the full event, including new story missions, now seems likely to come to the full game in early August. Back when Anthem first came out, the Cataclysm was scheduled to arrive some time in May.

Screenshot: Kotaku (Anthem)

But even the introduction of these new Challenges hasn’t gone off completely without a hitch. Several players in the Anthem subreddit have reported that the game has been crashing more than usual while they’re in freeplay. The Challenge that requires killing crystallized enemies also appears to be bugged at the moment. The game only seems to count those killed with melee attacks or gunfire, as opposed to Javelin gear or ultimates.

It’s still not too difficult to get the 60 kills necessary to satisfy that part of the Challenge, but it does add another small frustration to a continually growing pile.

Source: Kotaku.com

BioWare Shares New Details About Anthem’s Upcoming Cataclysm Event

During a developer live stream today, BioWare gave Anthem players their first look at the game’s upcoming Cataclysm event, a limited-time end-game activity that will take place in an entirely new environment.

Based on what BioWare showed, the Cataclysm, which will last six weeks, seems to function like a mini-freeplay mode. Players load into a special area with its own overhead map broken up into different sections that can be explored in any order. Some of the rewards players can collect in Cataclysm will change from week to week, as will the map, with more activities getting added as the weeks go on.

Cataclysm will be score-driven, with higher scores apparently granting players better rewards and a higher amount of a special new currency. It’ll also have a countdown timer ticking down. When it reaches zero, the mission ends. Players can regain time by completing different activities on the map, like arenas, which are localized enemy encounters that look similar to the ones in the rest of the game. The more arenas players clear, the higher their score, with more arenas being added to the map as the weeks go on. The arenas also have orbs at the center of them. When the orbs are destroyed, they create safe zones that protect players from the environmental hazards of the Cataclysm.

Ben Iriving, the game’s lead producer, said that there will also be lots of secrets and puzzles hidden throughout the map. The more efficiently players move through the Cataclysm, the more of these side activities they’ll be able to get through, boosting their overall score and potentially netting them additional rewards. He also stressed that it won’t have a level requirement, so new and old players alike can try it when it becomes available with rewards scaling as needed.

If the activity has a main boss, BioWare didn’t show it. While this was only a brief look at Anthem’s major end-game activity, it seemed much less like a Destiny-style raid and much more like that game’s “Prison of Elders” mission, which had waves of enemies and encouraged players to prioritize dispatching them quickly over puzzle-solving or story-driven exploration.

Cataclysm, which was supposed to launch sometime this month, doesn’t currently have a start date. Before it’s rolled out for everyone, however, Iriving said the plan is to release it first on a test server for PC players to try it out and provide feedback. Effectively, Anthem’s first major content expansion after release is going to go through a brief beta period.

When Cataclysm is finally released, it’ll coincide with an update to the loot system in the game. For the duration of Cataclysm, there will be a new vendor at Fort Tarsis who will give players war chests in exchange for a new type of currency. Irving didn’t clarify whether these chests will function like loot boxes or if they will give pre-determined rewards.

The game is also getting a new gear slot for melee attacks. While different pieces of melee gear won’t change the appearance of your melee weapon, they will change how powerful it is and what its secondary status effects are. That will give players more options in how they execute attack combos. Also, the luck stat is going away. Now, the game will just treat every player as if they had a maximum luck stat, which will in turn cause more loot to drop overall for the average player.

More significantly, Iriving said that the new loot being added to the game during the Cataclysm will be five levels higher than the current existing end-game gear. It’s unclear if this will mean that players’ existing inventory of guns and armor will be made obsolete, or if there will be some way to level it up or craft new versions that are in line with the new gear. Iriving said that BioWare will be taking feedback during the testing phase before deciding what to do there.

Since very little of the event itself was actually shown, it’s hard to know how interesting the fights and exploration aspects will be, or if the rewards will feel like they’re worth the effort (unlike a lot of the game’s current activities, which don’t). It’s possible BioWare is holding back from showing off the most exciting aspects of Cataclysm right now, but so far, it doesn’t yet look like a game changer.

Source: Kotaku.com