If you’ve been following Anthem (opens in new tab), you know the game basically has two halves: the mech-suit piloting action/combat/exploration half out in the online world and the plot-advancing/suit customizing half back in your own private version of Fort Tarsis. But the world you can explore with other players will develop some stories of its own too – and for an early idea of what form they might take, you could look at Fortnite (opens in new tab). And no, I don’t mean more gripping tales of 100 players all trying to kill each other with shopping carts.
In an interview with PC Gamer (opens in new tab), Anthem executive producer Mark Darrah and lead producer Mike Gamble talked about some of the difficulties games with classic ‘BioWare-style’ narratives have in our sharing-centric, social-media riddled culture. Put simply, most folks don’t like sharing spoilers (for good reason).
“One problem that we’ve had with BioWare games is there’s a real reluctance to talk about what you’ve experienced because of the feeling of spoilers,” Darrah said. “But when you look at something like Fortnite, there’s this very shared communal storytelling going on, like with the purple cube (opens in new tab) or the missile or the meteor showers. People share this experience because they know everyone saw it. That’s what our world actually gets us. What we’ve never had before is the ability to have a shared experience we can all talk about and have storytelling on this communal level.”
Anthem is built to be mutable, both on a technical level as a ‘live game’ and on a lore level as a world left half-finished by absent gods. That leaves a lot of room for BioWare to drop in and make tweaks… like, maybe the sudden appearance of said cube? That’d be a hell of a crossover, but more realistically speaking, BioWare is very much in favor of events along those lines to help keep players interested over the long haul.
“So we definitely are planning to do some seasonal content, bigger stuff,” Darrah said. “But then I think we need something more than that. I think what Fortnite, what Epic has done that others maybe haven’t figured out, is that they have seasons – big 10 week-long things – and then within that they’re like, we’re just going to sprinkle in something on top of that.”
Even if you’re tired of Fortnite taking over the world, the way Epic Games has woven smaller story beats and updates into the game is undeniably clever. I’m a lot more excited to see that side of Fortnite’s popularity influence and validate new games, rather than another slate of battle royales.
For more on the shooty-bang-bang side of things, let Anthem’s game director break down how all four Javelin suits work (opens in new tab).