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Anthem gameplay premiere: Pretty jetpack combat, too much Bio-wear and tear

Enlarge / Say hi to a dramatic angle of a javelin robo-suit. You’ll need one of these to zip around Anthem. (credit: EA/Bioware)

On Friday, EA and Bioware gave everyone who pre-ordered the online shooter Anthem access to a “VIP demo,” complete with missions and combat-filled zones from the upcoming game. The result may very well be the most cruel definition of “VIP” ever sold by a video game company.

And it comes with a serious case of déjà vú. A longtime game maker known for sprawling, choice-filled adventures has thrown its hat into the “shared online shooter” ring, and the public’s first taste is a buggy, uneven mess that lands somewhere shy of a beta. Months after Fallout 76‘s wonky pre-release demo, here we are again with a disconnect-ridden taste of Anthem.

In this week’s case, there’s something worse going on than unoptimized netcode. Anthem has arrived with some beautiful imagery, lush worlds, and intriguing, jetpack-fueled blasts into the sky. At its best, Bioware’s latest game feels like dreamy action-gaming catnip. But a few immediately apparent problems, including inelegant combat, stilted world-building, and confusing systems, make one thing clear: Destiny 2 already seems like a better game, and that’s not a good starting point for a latecomer.

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