Anthem Shows How You Can Play Your Way
A Producer Bromance Emerges
Gameplay Producer Darrin McPherson and Lead Producer Ben Irving sat down with the Anthem community to present the highly anticipated stream covering loot and progression. It was a stream filled with new information such as loot rarities, random rolls called inscriptions, gear score, new passive slots unveiled, how combos/statuses work, and even some gameplay with a high-powered Ranger at the end. We’ll cover these in their own sections one by one to ensure that we are able to cover them thoroughly and clearly. You can watch the entire stream here.
Before we begin, we should point out the disclaimer that Ben gave near the beginning of the stream (but not right at the beginning BEN!): This game is still a work in progress and there will be bugs you’ll notice in the screenshots below.
For those who are fans of looter games, loot rarity is not a new concept to you. For those who are stepping into the genre for the first time, it is a tier of rarities that generally dictates how powerful an item can be. This is usually covered by a color and a name for the tier to help it be easily identifiable. While we have known about loot rarity for a long time, the developers have finally landed on a tier list that was unveiled during this stream. They are as follows:
You can obtain most loot levels at any pilot level you happen to be at. The higher the difficulty and level you are, the higher chance you have at the rarest items. Anthem also allows you to equip any amount of any rarities. For those confused by that statement, it is not similar to Destiny in which you are required to only have one exotic weapon and exotic armor piece. You can equip as many of any rarity gear as you please. Up to this point, we have known that all gear will follow these rarities, but during the stream we were finally introduced to another set of gear we hadn’t seen before. These pieces of gear are referred to as Components.
We’ve known about passive slots for a while, but up until now it has been a guess as to what they would be. It is no longer a mystery, as Darrin and Ben revealed components, internal systems that you put on your Javelin to make up a large chunk of your builds. There are six component slots in total for each Javelin. These slots, while passive, will help bring your build together when customizing your Javelin for specific scenarios or when planning with your team on how to tackle higher level content. Darrin led Ben through a deep dive of his components. To give a synopsis of the build, Darrin was able to reduce his ability cooldowns by 50% while hovering. This synergized with his weapon that did 65% more weak point damage while he hovered. He also had components that increased his left bumper ability (grenade) damage by 50% when he killed an enemy with his right bumper ability (blast missile). Then there were other components that further decreased his grenade ability cooldown, and using his ultimate allowed his abilities to do more damage.
There is a high complexity of builds you can achieve and it’s all going to depend of how much time you wish to spend in it. Ben stated that if you don’t want to spend the time to make these synergistic builds, you do not have to. More casual players will be fine by equipping the gear they want to wear at a glance and still enjoy all the content in the game. For those who want to tackle the higher difficulties and push your Javelin to the test, it’s time to start theory crafting. Of course, as this is a loot-based game, it’ll also have another trademark of the genre: random rolls on gear.
Inscriptions and Random Rolls
Inscription is the term used to define the random secondary stats that you will see on all of your gear in Anthem. Starting from Uncommon gear, you will get one random rolled inscription on the gear. Rare gets two, Epic gets three, Masterwork gets four as well as a unique inscription that is static on each piece you find with the same name. As far as we know, Legendary gear does not give more random rolls, but is rather a Masterwork item that can pull from different inscription pools, as well as come in at a higher level and has more power. There are over one hundred inscriptions in the game, each one separated into smaller pools or categories that they can roll from. For instance, the “Ammo” inscription pool may have a few different types of percentage increase to X weapons ammo. The inscription will pick one of those ammo types randomly, and give it a random percentage boost, then apply it to the weapon. This is just an example and could work slightly differently for each pool.
Ben answered a question during this portion of the stream around being able to re-roll inscriptions. We will NOT be able to re-roll individual inscriptions. The loot chase will be through crafting or finding the weapon again during missions. He also gave a follow up answer to concerns around this issue on Reddit, stating that, “I think this is fair feedback. We probably can’t/won’t do anything for launch but it’s a reasonable thing to consider later. We will definitely monitor player behavior/ feedback at launch.”
Gear Score, Crafting, Status Effects, and More
While all these may not be related, they were covered very briefly throughout the stream, so we feel as if they could be talked about together.
Gear score is not a new concept in the looter genre. For those new to looter games, It is an indicator of how powerful you are based on some arithmetic done on your currently equipped gear. You can use this number to decide if you’re ready to challenge harder content, or if you need to grind a bit more to meet the recommended power level. In Anthem, your gear score is calculated by adding up the level of all your gear. Once this number meets a specific threshold, your Javelin’s rarity will go up, which will help when looking at what difficulty you should tackle next.
Crafting was slightly touched on here again, but it was mostly in conjunction with re-rolls. Crafting is one example given by the developers in which we can re-roll loot. It will of course re-roll with all new inscriptions, but it’s still an option. Blueprints were also touched upon slightly here, stating that in game challenges will reward blueprints for specific weapon types. So if you are having some bad RNG (random number generator) luck, you can complete one of these challenges, get that cool Assault Rifle blueprint you wanted, and keep crafting it till you get the inscriptions you want.
Near the start of the stream, when they were covering the Colossus’ loadout (the best Javelin, by the way), we were able to see the stats of the Firewall Mortar in the Ordnance Launcher slot. Darrin pointed out specifically that there is symbol to the left of the item name. The symbol represents that this is a “primer” type ability, meaning you will use this ability to set up combos. The symbol will be the same across all element types as it is meant to indicate that primer. There are also detonators with their respective symbols (see Railgun image below) to hit primed enemies, which allows each Javelin to have a unique combo bonus depending on which suit detonates the combo. They are as follows:
Colossus has an explosive detonator. They do damage to the primary target that was primed and then the combo does an Area of Effect (AoE) of that element.
Ranger has a high impact detonator. This does enormous amounts of damage against a single creature or enemy.
Storm has a chained detonator. They will inflict damage on the primed target, and the combo will spread the element to nearby enemies.
Interceptor has an aura detonator. When they hit a primed target, they gain an aura of the element that they detonated and are able to apply it to enemies they come into contact with.
The Firewall Mortar item also as a “Fire Status” stat. The higher this number, the faster you are able to apply the Fire primer to an enemy when they are hit by it. Once enough of the status has been stacked, then they are primed for detonation.
A large chunk of the stream near the end was dedicated to actually showing the Ranger’s loadout in action, playing on the Hard (Master) difficulty. Unfortunately, due to a few bugs, the entire combo didn’t work, but we were able to see a few pieces of it in action. There was a significant cooldown boost to Darrin’s abilities when he began to hover. On the left of the screen, you could see the unique buffs being applied as they were triggered. For instance, Raptor’s Sense and Raptor’s Relief are applied while hovering, coming from one of his equipped weapons and a component.
We were able to watch Darrin take out several Outlaws, one of the many factions in Anthem, as well as some Wyverns. A public event that required the defeat two Ursix also appeared, which Darrin fled as his build isn’t exactly made to take down two tough enemies, but rather for thinning out large groups of enemies.
While we have been able to see support abilities in the past, Darrin and Ben also showed us Bulwark, one of the Ranger’s support abilities. When triggered, the ability puts up a spherical shield around the Ranger, blocking projectiles. While this is hard to get in a screenshot, you can view the ability being used in this timestamped link. You are able to shoot out of the sphere from inside while being protected against incoming fire.
Lastly we were able to see a lore marker that Darrin picked up. We’ve posted the image below, but you’ll be able to revisit these lore tidbits in your Cortex, Anthem’s version of the Codex from previous BioWare games.
As per usual, we’re putting the Q&A here at the bottom to cover all questions and answers that were brought up during the stream.
Will we be able to craft legendary weapons and gear or are those only loot drops in the world?
Ben: “We’ll be getting into Legendary gear a bit later, so let’s replace that with say…Epic.” Darrin continued, “The primary means of gaining gear, weapons, commodes, is randomly killing creatures, defeating objectives, etc. You can eventually get some of the ability craft some of these things. Crafting is a good supplement.”
Will loot be RNG based or will specific strongholds have specific loot?
While not specifically answering the question, Ben stated that “Loot is random in the world.” Darrin explained that loot rarity is not dependent on your level, but a higher pilot level dictates a higher chance at getting higher rarity items.
Can we trade with other players?
Ben: “No, we want this to be about the loot you go out and get yourself. If you end up in a situation where you go out to get an assault rifle and it never drops, you can supplement it crafting. You can find a challenge that awards an assault rifle blueprint, then just find the materials and craft it if you were getting unlucky with drops.”
Let’s say there is a legendary gun called the Exploder, is there only going to be one version with fixed stats, or can we find an infinite version of the same gun with better rolls on the stats, so we don’t end up with the same builds?
The orange property will always be the same if it is a Masterwork item, but the inscriptions will change.
Do bosses drop unique loot? Like if I defeat one of those gorilla looking things, could I get a crazy quad barreled shotgun?
Generally, the answer is, by playing the game there are loot tables. The higher the difficulty, the higher your chance is to get better items on those loot tables. Secondly, there is Challenge system, you can think of it as an achievement system. Example: Go kill the giant gorilla thing 10 times to get a reward.
Can you show Support Abilities?
You can see it in the Ranger Gameplay section from the timestamped link.
Is loot individual or shared?
Loot is instanced to be individual loot, and there is no trading. You should salvage loot you are not going to use to craft other items.
Do Inscriptions Stack?
Yes. Example: if you have an inscription on one item that gives you a 5% flight time, another item with a 5% flight time will stack on that.
Will higher level gear have wildly impactful abilities?
Yes, as shown with the Masterwork gear and in gameplay from the Ranger.
Do enemies scale with your gear score? How do enemies scale?
Enemies scale to your Pilot Level. If Darrin is level 20 and Ben is Level 10, enemies will be doing and taking relative damage. Darrin however will have a more synergized build and have abilities to help him kill things faster than Ben would at that point.
Are there builds that can improve your melee?
Yes, Darrin stated it was suggested to make a tanky Ranger melee build (but he didn’t).
Will there be swords?
Each Javelin has their own unique melee ability. Somewhere down in the future they could add more, but right now every Javelin has one melee.
Info on Raids and Endgame content?
A longer answer: As you get through the crit path and towards endgame content is around taking more challenging content to get those higher rewards. Ben states, “The question says ‘I would like aspirational content, it’s important to have aspirational content’ so we have some things coming that we are not quite ready to talk about that we’ll be getting into in the new year.”
When can we see the Interceptor point of view?
Ben: “Next time we do a Gameplay stream, we will show the Interceptor.”