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Video Game / Anthem (2019)

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Out there, you either live with the choices you make... Or you die trying to change them.

"The gods vanished... And left our world in chaos. Creating. Altering. Destroying. The Anthem is all that remains."

Anthem is an open-world, Third-Person Shooter/Action RPG released on February 22, 2019, developed by BioWare and published by Electronic Arts.

The planet of Coda is a deadly place. Legends state that the gods abandoned it half-created, leaving behind the force they used, the Anthem of Creation, and the tools they used to control it. The power of the Anthem occasionally breaks free in Cataclysms, reshaping the land, creating dangerous new species, or even altering the laws of physics themselves. Humanity struggles to survive in this place, protected by walls and soldiers using Powered Armor called javelins. The ones who most frequently leave the walls and stop the Cataclysms are the Freelancers, a group of benevolent mercenaries sworn to protect humanity.

The plot follows a rookie Freelancer, one of the few survivors of a failed attempt to stop an abnormally powerful Cataclysm called the Heart of Rage. They settle in a city called Fort Tarsis two years after the disaster, struggling to find work in a world that has lost faith in Freelancers. But they soon discover that the Heart of Rage had a specific cause, and now need to fight to stop a plot that could destroy the entire world...

A three issue Prequel Comic Book series Anthem: A New Verse written by Alexander Freed and Mac Walters with art by Eduardo Francisco was published by Dark Horse Comics.

On February 24th, 2021, BioWare announced that they would be ceasing development on any future Anthem content to focus on Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Anthem contains the following tropes:

  • Ace Custom: The Javelins (especially Rangers) used by Player Freelancers are this when compared to the "mass production" Rangers used by Antium's Sentinels. The Sentinel Rangers all use similar loadouts and standard-issue weaponry, whereas any player-owned Ranger is going to be armed and customized to the pilot's specifications.
  • Action Girl: Any female Freelancer. The original, in-setting, is probably General Helena Tarsis, leader of the Order of Dawn. Sentinel Ryssa Brin is no slouch either, despite coming across as an anxiety-riddled Desk Jockey.
  • Aerith and Bob: Character names range from the relatively mundane (Faye, Owen, Neeson) to somewhat unusual (Haluk, Ryssa, Pirndel).
  • After the End: A really interesting Inversion. The world the game takes place in was apparently abandoned by the gods before it was even finished being created, leading to a world that is extremely hostile to humans.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: There's quite a few.
    • Picking up ammo will partially refill the magazine of your weapons, on top of the reserve ammo.
    • Melee weapons have cooldown only when the attack connects, and using a melee attack will make you lunge/aim towards whichever target you're aiming/moving towards.
    • You're invincible whilst using your Limit Break ability and healed after, to avoid frustrating situations where you activate it, only to immediately get downed and thus waste it.
    • Larger enemies like ursix and titans are guaranteed to drop some health and ammo when reducing them to certain health points, so you're not stuck only using abilities after a while. Larger titans also summon ash elementals that can be killed for additional supplies and Ultimate energy.
  • Apocalypse How: The Dominion caused a Regional Societal Collapse trying to control a Shaper Artifact called the Cenotaph, destroying the city of Freemark in the process. The resulting cataclysm, called the Heart of Rage, could not be contained, despite many attempts.
  • Archaeological Arms Race: All of the factions in Bastion are hunting for powerful Shaper Relics, the remnants of the precursor race that made the world. The main plot involves the Dominion's effort to control a powerful structure called the Cenotaph.
  • Arm Cannon: Both the Ranger and Colossus pack forearm/wrist mounted weaponry, with various unique options for each; the Ranger has a homing missile launcher that can be replaced with a charged energy cannon, rocket launcher, beam laser, or poison dart launcher, whilst the Colossus starts with a railgun that can be replaced with a heavy cannon, flamethrower, acid sprayer, or a flak cannon for crowd control.
  • Backpack Cannon: The Ranger and Colossus both have weaponry strapped to their backs; the Colossus can switch out different weapons between missions, whilst the Ranger's is a missile rack for its ultimate Limit Break ability.
  • Badass Crew: Any group of Freelancers. The game's Alliance System actively encourages you to build your own crew with your friends; if everyone in the group plays regularly, everyone receives benefits based on their contribution at the end of the week - even if nobody plays together.
  • Bald of Evil: Doctor Harken, the Dominion's Evil Genius.
  • Barrier Warrior: Both the Ranger and Storm are capable of deploying defensive shields to assist their team; the Ranger's is a dome or bubble, whilst the Storm's is a flat plane.
  • Big Bad: The Monitor, one of Dominion's Secret Police agents seeking Shaper artifacts for the purpose of controlling the Anthem of Creation.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The Skorpions are large and very aggressive insectoids/arachnids.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Monitor is dead, the Heart of Rage has been silenced, and the people's faith in the Freelancers is restored. But Freemark is still gone, and Owen leaves for parts unknown with the Javelin of Dawn. Tassyn also reveals that humanity's ancient enemies, the urgoth, may be returning, and urges you to be ready.
  • Bug War: Versus the Scars, a race of Insectoid Aliens who seem to have been created accidentally during a Cataclysm fifty years before the game's start, and are extremely hostile towards anyone who keeps them from Shaper tech. There's also the Skorpions, which the Scars try to weaponize.
  • The Bus Came Back: The Cataclysm limited event reveals that Doctor Harken, the man responsible for destruction of Freemark, is alive and willing to help you with the new threat.
  • Character Customization: Variable levels of it. You have to pick from a large pool of preset faces for your Freelancer, but you can extensively customize your Javelin. This is justified, however, as conversations and cutscenes where the player is out of their suit are in first-person; the only moments you can see your character's face is the short Lock-and-Load Montage cutscene before launching a mission, and in a few mid-mission cutscenes where helmets may open up. On the other hand, the customization for your Javelin exosuit is extremely flexible, allowing you select cosmetic armour parts, then customize the material (e.g. unpainted metal, painted metal, various types of leather, rubber, patterned and unpatterned fabrics...) and the colour(s) for six 'regions' per suit. You can choose the level of wear-and-tear, colour selection is via a wheel (no premade fixed palettes or consumable dyes) and apply special premade 'vinyl' patterns.
  • Citadel City: Fort Tarsis, one of humanity's main bastions against the myriad dangers of Coda. At the start of the game, it's a run-down shell of its former glory after the Heart of Rage fiasco. Freemark seems to have had a similar design to it, before it got ruined by the Dominion invading and accidentally creating the Heart of Rage.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Everywhere. Red for Corvus' officers, white-and-green for their field agents. Blue for the Sentinels. Rusty reds and browns for the Scars. Black with varying highlights for the Dominion. Browns and green for the Outlaws. About the only thing not colour-coded for convenience are Freelancers, thanks to the massive customization possibilities.
  • Company Cross References: A previous owner of the nameless bar had the audacity to name it...the Black Emporium. His name was "Xeno-something" and he got struck by lightning, indoors, which charred him black and fused him to his chair. Which is a perfect description of Xenon the Antiquarian.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: The Interceptor's Limit Break allows it to unleash a series of lightning-quick melee attacks, leaving behind afterimages that continue to attack and deal damage.
  • Death from Above: The Colossus has a choice of three different Mortars for its Backpack Cannon.
  • Death World: Repeatedly lampshaded in the game's lore, including the fictional book titled "A Guide To Living Things That Will Kill You". Between the bandits, dangerous wildlife, malfunctioning Shaper Relics, Cataclysms and Anthem creations like Elementals and Titans, there's a lot out there to kill you when you least expect it.
    "While not everything is trying to kill you, it may get you killed anyway. Stay home."
  • Distant Prologue: The prologue takes place 2 years before the rest of the game.
  • Double Jump: Justified through jetpacks. All Javelins have a unique jump behaviour; the Ranger can doublejump, the Interceptor can triplejump, and the Colossus can do a sustained 'boost' jump. The only one that can't boost its jump height after the initial jump is the Storm, which instead just slows its rate of descent.
  • Dual Wielding: The Interceptor Javelin is armed with a pair of double-bladed daggers called Bladed Daggers for melee attacks.
  • The Empire: The Dominion, who are far more fascist and authoritarian than Fort Tarsis and look down on Freelancers as too chaotic. Oddly, the good guys are called the Empire of Antium.
  • Evil Is Bigger: The Monitor looks massive, even despite his armor. What makes it stranger is that his legs lack the extended "stilts" noticeable on the Ranger.
  • Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: Two years after the disaster in the Heart of Rage, the player Freelancer has been reduced to doing maintenance work in a rented javelin. It is Tassyn's offer of more lucrative and rewarding work that kicks off the events of the story.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: The Javelin types fall into these archetypes, with Colossus as Fighter, Storm as Mage, and Interceptor as Thief. The Ranger fills out the lineup as a Jack of All Stats.
  • Fire, Ice, Lightning: The three core elements available for attacks judging by previews so far, though there's also Acid as well. The Storm in particular revolves around manipulating this classic trio, with its Limit Break letting it call down - and then detonate - an "elemental meteor" of each type. It's the only Javelin that has no "physical" damage abilities, and it also lacks abilities that deal Acid damage.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: The Colossus' shield can be used as a battering ram whilst sprinting; smaller mooks will just get flung aside when you slam into them.
  • Fragile Speedster: The Interceptor Javelin. It's the most fragile of the four by a wide margin, as the Storm's shields can absorb far more damage whilst it's hovering.
  • Game-Breaking Bug:
    • Playing the 2019 demo in Japanese language completely destabilizes the game. The worst of the issues that crop up when playing under this language is a guaranteed CTD during the results screen following any raid, which also denies the player any drops acquired during the session.
    • Another consistent issue is components sometimes not granting their armour and/or shield boosts, or applying them at the start of the mission, only to stop applying them if another player joins the mission or you get incapacitated. Naturally, being stuck with your base health on the higher difficulties is essentially suicide.
    • The worst game-breaking bug of all, post-launch, not only breaks the game, it breaks PS4 consoles!
  • Giant Spider: The boss of "Tyrant Mine" stronghold, shown in the E3 2018 gameplay demo.
  • Glowing Mechanical Eyes: Outlaw mooks have glowing green visors on their helmets, and all Javelins have glowing eyes in some form.
  • Going Through the Motions: During conversations with the player, Faye has a rather noticeable habit of holding her arms in the very specific position of her right forearm being raised while her left hand is on her right bicep.
  • Gold and White Are Divine: The Monitor wears a suit, possibly a Javelin model, that looks like a gold-plated judicial robe, fitting his role as a high-ranking operative of The Empire.
  • Gravity Screw: One Cataclysm is mentioned to have reversed gravity's pull. Good thing Freelancers can fly.
  • Green Rocks: Ember, required to craft skill-related gear. That and, the most common variety is literally green.
  • Ground Punch: Whether on the ground or airborne, the Colossus has the ability to slam the ground as its melee attack, dealing damage in a large radius. Storm and Ranger also have a ground slam as their airborne melee attack.
  • Have You Seen My God?: Anthem is set in a world that the Gods have abandoned and left unfinished, but they left behind their massive tools, which are in conflict with an unknowable force called the Anthem of Creation.
  • Hegemonic Empire: Fort Tarsis and the other human settlements seem to be part of an Empire, and are all clearly ruled over by an Emperor. But they're not The Empire; that's the Dominion.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: The Storm Javelin is made using advanced tech stolen from the Dominion, then studied and reverse-enginered by engineers and Arcanists, so it's essentially invoking this any time you use it against the Dominion.
  • Hostile Weather: The Shaper Storms, though their exact nature is unclear.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: In their heyday, Freelancers were revered as heroes, and contracts practically fell in their laps. Then the protagonist's disastrous mission to the Heart of Rage happened, the reputation of Freelancers as a whole plummeted, and they were suddenly stuck slumming it anywhere they could get even a half-decent gig. Yarrow seeks to remedy this over the course of the game.
  • Humans Are Special: Humanity was enslaved, oppressed, and otherwise exploited by the urgoth in the distant past, largely because humans apparently had the ability to harness and control Ember - when the urgoth didn't. By using Ember, humans were able to create Javelins (in particular, the Gateway and Signet control systems) that allowed them to finally even the score and overthrow their masters.
  • Humongous Mecha: The Striders are massive quadruped walkers (think AT-AT from Star Wars), used for transportation purposes both military and civilian. They serve as fast-travel and field resupply/rearm points for Freelancers, in gameplay terms.
  • Hungry Jungle: The area around Fort Tarsis is, at least, if the whole of Coda isn't that way. Massive trees overgrowing copious amounts of ruins and lots of wildlife that wouldn't object to eating or trampling foolish humans.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Faye looks very much like her voice actress Rochelle Neil, Sentinel Brin is pretty much Amy Okuda with a buzz cut and Haluk is visually based on character actor L.J. Batinas but was re-dubbed by Nick Tarabay.
  • Interface Screw: The Monitor tends to cause it when he's communicating with you. The reason why is indirectly explained in the Cortex.
  • Jack of All Stats: The Ranger Javelins are described as being the most balanced and all-purpose of the exo-suits.
  • Jet Pack: All of the Javelins have one built in, except for the Storm, which integrates some advanced Dominion technology reminiscent of magnetic levitation that's functionally identical. Unlike in Mass Effect: Andromeda, where the jetpacks provide a short boost for better maneuverability, the jet packs in Anthem allow the Freelancers to travel faster through the open-world by flying through the air like Iron Man, and freely hover to strike enemies from above.
  • Job System: Essentially how the Javelins operate. You'll create a freelancer who can switch between Javelins at will by returning to their base.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Colossus has the option of attaching a flamethrower to their arm as a backup weapon, plus an incendiary mortar, the Storm can cause fiery explosions and throw various kinds of fire projectiles, and the Ranger is able to equip incendiary grenades.
  • Kill It with Ice: The Ranger Javelin has the ability to use an ice grenade, the Storm can fire homing ice bolts and summon miniature blizzards, and the Interceptor hurls freezing shuriken at enemies.
  • King Incognito: Lady Adaxia Miravala Dell, third in line for the throne of Antium. Better known as Sentinel Dax.
  • Limit Break: Every Javelin has a special "ultimate" ability; the Ranger has its missile swarm, the Colossus has a BFG, the Interceptor turns into a lightning fast blur of blades and death, and the Storm can call down elemental "meteors".
  • Literal Split Personality: Matthias, one of the Arcanists in Fort Tarsis, gets split into three identical copies with different personalities by toying with a Shaper artifact.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: Even after the day one patch, the load times are still extreme. Someone did a comparison to the game infamous for long load times and found that it's near triple that of Sonic 06's load times. And it's not just how long the Load times are, but how many loading screens there are. Almost anything you do requires a loading screen. The process of equipping a new piece of loot is one that requires at least four loading screens. Thankfully, the patches have at least alleviated that, and the game will provide you with cortex entries to read ala Dragon Age: Inquisition to pass the time.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Part of the Colossus' "fixed" toolkit is a massive towershield that can absorb incoming damage.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: The Ranger's Limit Break allows them to launch a swarm of missiles, ideal for wiping out large groups of weaker enemies regardless of cover or distance between them. It can also lock multiple missiles onto single large targets, making the Ranger versatile against both swarms and bosses.
  • Magitek: the entire technology of Anthem is made possible by the Anthem of Creation itself, both the Shaper Relics and human tech, built using "chimeric compounds" and "embers" created by the influence of the Anthem and controlled using Psychic Powers. The Freelancer has such a controlling device (called a signet) strapped to their right hand. The Dominion seems to have mastered this on an even higher level, considering how they modify the world's beasts like Wolven and Brutes into living weapons (for example, equipping Brutes with a pair of elemental Shoulder Cannons). The Dominion-designed Javelin, the Storm, is noticeably more sophisticated than the Colossus or Ranger as well.
  • Mighty Glacier: The hulking Colossus Javelins are bigger and tougher than their peers, but noticeably slower. It's also the only Javelin type capable of using the heaviest handheld weapons, and packs a massive cannon as its Limit Break.
  • Mini-Mecha: The Colossus Javelins are big enough to qualify as this.
  • Neglectful Precursors: The Shapers, the ancient race that created Coda, then abandoned the half-formed world for reasons unknown. Not only did they create a Death World full of hostile wildlife and crazy weather patterns, but they also left behind countless "Shaper Relics," technology that can spawn hordes of angry mooks, alter gravity and the laws of physics, access other realities and time periods, and who knows what else.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The gameplay trailer was made when the game was still in early development, when basic things like power allotment still hadn't been worked out. As a result, much of what the trailer showed didn't make it into the final product. For instance, the mission the player character embarks on in the video — and the NPC who gives the mission — doesn't exist in the retail game.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The starting platform in Fort Tarsis has no railings, and cables inside the Fort are carelessly laid in puddles of water. This is lampshaded in several player-initiated conversations with the Obstructive Bureaucrat Pirndel Blatch.
  • Overheating: Non-weapon example, but to prevent players from staying airborne indefinitely, Javelins have an overheat system where their jets build up heat. This can be lowered by flying through waterfalls, close to water or diving through the air to cool them down, allowing a skilled pilot familiar with the environment to stay in the air longer.
  • Pardon My Klingon: Sumner tends to drop local expletives like "this is total skorp-drop!"
  • Player Character: The Freelancers that regularly venture beyond the City walls in their Powered Armor.
  • Poison Is Corrosive: All the acid abilities use "Venom" as the first half of their name; e.g. Venom Darts, Venom Spray. It's also extremely effective against armour, but very weak against shields.
  • Power Floats: The Storm doesn't use a conventional Jet Pack most of the time, and its sprinting animation is to just float along the ground rather than a jet-assisted run like the other Javelins.
  • Powered Armor: The Javelins used by Freelancers are a pretty sizable variation, ranging between a good seven to nine feet in height. The Colossus is the largest of the lot, towering over its peers by a noticeable margin.
  • Psychic Link: Between Cyphers and Freelancers, and between Freelancers and their Javelins. In the latter case, a customized 'Sigil' is the key component, used to interface with the suit's 'Gateway'. Using the wrong Sigil can cause issues, as can getting Performance Anxiety; Owen 'borrows' an Outlaw Ranger during an ambush only to panic under combat stress, and his Javelin locks up as a result.
  • Psychic Powers: The Cyphers are geniuses and telepaths able to work with the Anthem of Creation. Some of them, like Faye and Owen, are employed as Freelancers' Mission Control.
    • The Storm javelin uses seals to boost the pilot’s latent kinetic abilities to allow for telekinetic, cryokinetic, electrokinetic and pyrokinetic abilities.
  • Regenerating Shield, Static Health: Most Javelins have a shield that will regenerate on its own if the player avoids damage for a period of time, but they also have a health bar that will not regenerate on its own and must be replenished by health drops from enemies. The Colossus does not have this shield but has a massive pool of Hit Points to compensate, along with a durable, regenerating tower shield.
  • Scenery Gorn: The initial mission happens in the ruins of Freemark, with the Heart of Rage going on all around you. Some of the other areas contain unexplained wrecks of machinery and massive metal parts overgrown with plantlife. You later revisit the ruins of Freemark, and it's just as bad as it was before (if not worse).
  • Scenery Porn: The top of the Wall that the Freelancers jump off of offers a gorgeous view of the Hungry Jungle that surrounds Fort Tarsis, and the surrounding area in general is beautiful to behold. Haluk will mention in a conversation that of all the things the Shapers did, they really nailed the waterfalls.
  • Science Fantasy: The developers have described the game as science fantasy rather than "hard" sci-fi. The E3 2018 presentation elaborates a little more saying a big part of the lore is that the Gods of the Anthem setting have abandoned the world and left it unfinished.
  • Schizo Tech: While the world of Anthem has Striders and Javelins, the world is also much more low-tech in some ways. Each Javelin was handmade by a craftsman because the world lacks mass-production capabilities, and they don't have things like television (although, oddly, the in-game lore mentions radio as commonly used). The developers have described it as "A world without microchips."
    • Rather than collect audio logs or data pads, the in-game lore is found written on parchement and scrolls.
  • Secret Police: The Monitors for Dominion and Corvus for the Antium Empire.
  • Shield Bash: the Colossus can ram opponents by running at them with the shield deployed, knocking down anyone and anything smaller than themselves. The shield can also be used to smack enemies instead of the normal Ground Punch.
  • Shock and Awe: the Storm's default "blast" power is an AOE lightning hit (and their default single-target attack can be replaced with either bouncing ball lightning or a charged Chain Lightning blast), the Ranger uses an electrified baton as their melee weapon, and the Colossus can be equipped with two different kinds of Tesla coil.
  • Shout-Out: Among the paint jobs shown for Javelins, one of them was an N7 job, complete with the arm stripe and logo, and another one featured a very distinct purple and green. The N7 stripe and logo can be purchased for earnable currency on the ingame store.
  • Spider Tank: The escari, highly evolved forms of the Scars, drive these monstrosities. The main body is highly durable, but the legs are vulnerable and can be used to stagger or stun the walker.
  • Squishy Wizard: The Storm Javelin has very low health, but can cast powerful "spells" and also has the ability to teleport. It receives a boost to shields when hovering to compensate for its fragility.
  • Stat Sticks: Weapons and even your Support Ability may serve this role, particularly for the Storm; the Storm's Seals form the mainstay of its offensive output, and so any weapons you carry will likely be purely for the passive benefits they offer to ability damage/recharge and similar stats. It can be further amplified by using the Storm-specific component which increases elemental damage by around a third, but also reduces its firearm damage by a third in exchange; your guns will be pathetic in terms of damage output, but your powers will be far more deadly.
  • Stock Ninja Weaponry: Interceptors are able to throw high-tech shuriken at their enemies.
  • Subsystem Damage: Many larger opponents have various sub-parts that can be blown off to temporarily stun them and/or open up weak spots.
  • Super Prototype: General Helena Tarsis' Javelin of Dawn, the Javelin on which the Colossus is based. It's described as being so powerful that not even its creator - the brilliant Arden Vassa - had any idea what it was capable of. Cutscenes show that it appears to have some kind of Pulse Blast (normally a Ranger weapon) in an Arm Cannon, and that it's extremely agile whilst hovering despite its size and mass.
  • The Order: The Legion of Dawn, from whom the Freelancers are descended, are considered this. Now defunct, but a few individuals have been tasked with trying to keep the Legion (or at least its ideals) alive.
  • The Stinger: A short scene plays out after the credits to drop a story hook for the game's future main storyline content. Specifically, Tassyn takes you aside to meet another high-ranking official, and you're shown a dead urgoth scout; humanity's ancient overlords.
  • The World Is Just Awesome: While it might be a total Death World, there's no denying that Coda is absolutely stunningly beautiful.
  • The Worm That Walks: According to the lore, the Scars are actually composed from thousands of small insects taking a human shape. Most Scars are barely more than feral scavengers, but some (called escari) are fully intelligent and capable of coherent communication.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: In Anthem's backstory, humanity was once enslaved by a race called the Urgoth, until Helena Tarsis led a massive slave revolt which ended with the Urgoth being driven away into hiding.
  • Turns Red: The Ancient Titans, revealed in one of the first gameplay videos, start using more attacks and increase their intensity as their health depletes. Dropping their health low enough causes them to basically lose control of their own powers and ultimately explode after a short time.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Monitor may qualify, as he seeks to use the Anthem of Creation to help humanity reclaim the world.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Discussed by Yarrow as he recounts the fall of Freemark: nobody has seen Doctor Harken since the Cenotaph was activated.
  • Wide-Open Sandbox: The game's Freeplay mode takes place within a sprawling frontier north of Fort Tarsis, a multi-tiered jungle full of ancient ruins both manmade and even older. Most missions take place within specific zones of the sandbox rather than in seperate premade areas, aside from a few special instances.
  • Wild Wilderness: Fort Tarsis is right on the frontier, and surrounded by uneven terrain and hostile wildlife.

Alternative Title(s): Anthem 2018, Anthem