I just spent a solid chunk of my morning watching a 45 minute Anthem livestream which for the first time, shows off the details of the game loot. That is…kind of a key component to the entire experience, considering that this is meant to be an entry in the loot shooter genre alongside Borderlands, The Division and Destiny, so if they don’t get this right, that’s a problem for the entire endeavor.
I am pretty impressed with what’s being shown here.
Without saying anything specific about the alpha, loot was not a part of it at all, so that’s just not something you get to experience or play around with in that testing phase. So this is our first real look at what loot will be like in Anthem, and it’s a system that reminds me a whole lot of Diablo and very little of Destiny, which most will consider to be Anthem’s chief rival.
While Diablo and Destiny both draw on RPG mechanics and have loot and perks and legendary items and what not, the two aren’t as similar as you might imagine.
Destiny stays away from specific numbers almost entirely, not telling you by how much a perk increases your damage or reload speed or anything like that. Just that it…does that. And while Destiny does have “builds” it is rare that you’ll find a kit where every single piece has some massive synergy with all the other pieces, as at best, you’re usually pairing like, one exotic weapon with one exotic piece of armor that helps your class or gunplay.
Diablo is a true RPG with nitty gritty stats with exact percentages and figures for every perk you get. You have base stats, damage and the like, but each piece of gear has a list of different bonuses that are all additional boosts. Its items usually combine together to create true gamechanging “builds” by combining different sets or legendaries
Between these two, Anthem’s loot is very clearly walking the path of Diablo.
Like Diablo, Anthem gear comes with base stats, but then a series of “inscriptions” that will boost other stats like damage, cooldowns, ammo and so on, which are randomly rolled with each new drop. It has a “masterwork” item tier that seems to have learned lessons from both Diablo and Destiny, which had underwhelming legendary/exotic gear at launch, and Anthem’s masterwork/legendary items do things that seem truly bonkers, like reducing all cooldowns by 50% when hovering, or having missile kills increase your grenade damage by 50%, or an armor component that gives full shield restoration on multikills.
While Anthem does not appear to have “sets” like Diablo or The Division, it very clearly has designed its gear with specific builds in mind. The example shown in the stream relied heavily on firing at enemies while hovering for all sorts of damage and cooldown bonuses.
All of this sounds incredibly cool in theory. In practice, which we see at the end of the stream, it’s slightly less cool, but that’s due to an apparently buggy build that didn’t have any hovering extension perks activated, so the player kept dropping out of the sky overheating far more often than he would otherwise.
I am somewhat worried about the cosmetic appeal of gear, as even if the perks and combos and builds are cool, I didn’t see anything particularly epic looking on this maxed out character, which is a staple of Diablo and Destiny. Its most powerful gear isn’t just fun, it also looks badass. This is more like The Division where cosmetics really take a backseat to the perks, for the most part, though perhaps I just haven’t seen the craziest stuff yet.
Regardless, I am encouraged by what I see here. The Division, Destiny and Diablo all struggled with loot issues at launch, and I’m hopeful that Anthem has perhaps taken those missteps to heart and come up with something that works well from day one. We’ll see how it goes at launch, but this is a solid start.