Let’s put aside the quality issues of Anthem to learn about the development of the game that helps determine the future of this BioWare.

Starting from a storm

On a late day in 2012, Hurricane Sandy was sweeping the United States. It devastated the east coast of the country, and videos of the storm’s destructive power spreading on the internet, including a giant crane hanging in the sky over Manhattan.

At the same time, more than 3,200 km northwest of the crane, the creators of Mass Effect sat together in Edmonton’s offices. Many of them have spent nearly a decade creating the Mass Effect trilogy, and now all are looking to find a new direction for their upcoming project, the action game codenamed “Dylan””.
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This is the image that has contributed significantly to shaping Dylan / Anthem.

And it was Hurricane Sandy that made an essential contribution to shaping Dylan. “When we were looking for ideas for Dylan, that storm was sweeping through New York,” said Jon Warner, BioWare’s product manager. There was a giant crane that was damaged and hung on the side of a building. CNN and other channels all showed that image. ”

These images haunt the BioWare team to the point that five years later, at E3 2017, the first gameplay trailer of the game shows the warriors wearing futuristic suits fighting in a strange, pristine world. Until they come across a technological wonder called “Shaper Storm.” Its first sign was a dark sky and strong winds.

The storm began to drag to the end of the gameplay trailer.

After the trailer, we fast forward two more years to February 15, 2019, the time of Dylan’s launch – now with a new name Anthem. Those who have played through Anthem realize that its content revolves around miraculous machines capable of changing the world, albeit in the wrong way.

Transition period

During Anthem’s development, a lot of changes happened to BioWare. There are minor changes such as the replacement of the old logo used for 20 years or the relocation of the office to the third tallest building in Edmonton. And there are also significant changes in which Anthem is the most potent transformation of BioWare after Mass Effect. As a studio specializing in making RPG with a little taste of Dungeons & Dragons (Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Star Wars: KOTOR), the Dylan project is a shooting action game, although it still contains familiar role-playing qualities of BioWare.

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Not BioWare has never changed. In the past, they started with 2D graphic RPG titles (Baldur’s Gate), turn-based gameplay, then switched to 3D (Star Wars: KOTOR), then headed into real-time action games (Jade Empire). However, BioWare wants Anthem to be very different from previous products such as Dragon Age, Mass Effect, or Baldur’s Gate. Mike Gamble, producer Anthem, said they started with a question: “how to tell a story, to create a compelling game, in an environment where your friends are also involved in the question?” that?”

It seems that BioWare has an idea and is trying to turn it into a convincing answer for everyone.

A new idea

On the surface, Anthem does not look like any of the previous BioWare games. It is an online shooting game, with gameplay revolving around continually finding new items and equipment to upgrade for the character. The game also focuses on the multiplayer feature and online experience of the player. At the same time, the storytelling face is narrowed into a single area – Fort Tarsis, the base of gamers on the unknown planet.
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In Anthem, NPCs rarely leave Fort Tarsis.

But on closer inspection, you’ll find that it’s still a BioWare product, just hidden deep below. The multiplayer feature is not new to this developer because it has been present since the first game, Shattered Steel (1996). Co-op mode also exists in Mass Effect 3 (2012). Casey Hudson, BioWare’s general manager, said that the multiplayer experience is one of the cores of a studio-developed game. The only difference is that BioWare developed Anthem as a multiplayer game from the beginning.

After Anthem, what will be the next game of BioWare? Anthem was born, and fans of traditional RPGs produced by BioWare began to ask: what is the studio’s next game?

To create a multiplayer game that gamers can plow for years (that’s why the game’s codename is Dylan, named after the singer Bob Dylan), BioWare began to look into gameplay ideas. Before taking gamers on a strange planet like the present, BioWare used to view familiar fantasy or fantasy universes. At times, everything is encapsulated in a city, similar to GTA V.’s Los Angeles. Once, they intended to send gamers into a Bethesda-style countryside and Fallout series. Even BioWare employees used to think of thousands and one night.

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There was a time when BioWare considered the idea of encapsulating a game in a city like GTA.

But those are not new enough. Mr. Casey said that after Dragon Age fantasy and Mass Effect fiction, they wanted something strange to develop Anthem worthy of a new brand of BioWare. They created the world we see today by combining sci-fi elements with land images in Kazakhstan, near the Russian Balkonur space airport. That’s where some parts of the launched missiles fall back to Earth. “It has beautiful green color, pristine rice fields and people lead a rural life, but they will come across pieces of broken spaceships. There is something great about those pictures. ”

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A view of Kazakhstan from Balkonur.

A new source of power

Dylan’s first test versions make gamers feel like they are really in a dangerous world, where people huddle together to survive. It is not a zombie disaster where humans are just a small group, but here they are not the ones at the top of the food chain but must fight for living space with other stronger creatures. , much bigger.

And so BioWare raises a new question: how do humans survive in a world like this? In Dragon Age, humans use magic. In Mass Effect, we have Biotic. Star Wars has divine power. So Anthem must also have something stronger, able to help them win against the creatures of the strange planet.

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The original image of the exosuit armor in Anthem.

Initially, BioWare considered the idea of exosuit, the high-tech suits familiar in science fiction. They give BioWare the ability to logically change a character’s “class”, giving gamers the supernatural ability to enter a strange and dangerous world even though they are still regular people. So a Crysis or Wolfenstein exosuit is not enough – BioWare wants the character to be able to move like superheroes, something influenced by the Avengers movie released in 2012, just when the studio started playing. Anthem developer.

Unexpected event

The Dylan Project is progressing smoothly, but suddenly in August 2014, Mr. Casey Hudson announced he would leave BioWare to pursue new challenges. He said that Dylan’s foundation is complete, and his departure will not affect Anthem’s development. “BioWare is ready to go into pre-production for a game I think will redefine interactive entertainment,” he wrote in a letter to colleagues on departure.

The gameplay of Shadow Realms, a game developed by BioWare.

And indeed, the departure of public Casey Hudson does not seem to affect much BioWare. Everything was very bright for the studio at the time: Dragon Age: Inquisition had just launched and received many compliments. An expansion pack for Star Wars: The Old Republic called Shadow of Revan is about to be released. The process of developing an ambitious Shadow Realms project is also very convenient. And Mass Effect: Andromeda is again coming soon. It seems a bright future awaits BioWare.