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Outriders might be bad news for Anthem 2.0

The disappointing 2019 loot shooter Anthem was a rare misstep for developer Bioware that the company hopes to correct with a reboot, Anthem 2.0. However, People Can Fly's ambitious Outriders, arriving Feb. 2, 2021, looks poised to beat it to the punch with an out of the box experience promising a lot of what Anthem 2.0 hopes to fix.

Things started to go wrong for Anthem almost from the day Bioware began working on it in 2012. Disruption from publisher EA, concept shifts, and difficulty using the Frostbite engine all led to a premature release that was poorly received by critics and fans alike. These setbacks weren't enough to keep Bioware from trying to make Anthem a success. In the beginning, the Anthem team delivered seasonal updates, much like its most significant competitor, Destiny 2. However, the focus of Anthem's seasonal updates was split between providing content and improving stability. Around the first anniversary, the team admitted that the game's core problems required a major redraft, and work on Anthem 2.0 began.

In the meantime, the Outriders development team seems to have been taking notes. Like Anthem, the world of Outriders is subject to a deadly and mysterious force, and players must team up to explore the hostile world while searching for better and better loot, a core part of the loot shooter experience.

One of the critical ways that Anthem failed was to sell the loot cycle in the endgame. When players began to reach max levels and high-end loot, they explored the endgame Strongholds – of which there were three. One of those three was little more than a rerun through the game's final campaign mission. This is the kind of shortcoming that a games-as-a-service approach should be able to redeem and enhance, but in Anthem's case, it was too little, too late.

In contrast, Outriders has promised to deliver a fully realized experience out of the box. After beating the roughly 40-hour primary campaign, as revealed in the Outriders Broadcast #4, there will be 20 hours of endgame content divided among 15 Expeditions. Once those Expeditions are over, players will unlock another challenge: the Eye of the Storm.

The longer lifecycle of online games today means that even titles with a problematic launch can come back from the brink to become solid experiences with dedicated fans. Just take a look at Star Wars: Battlefront 2 or Fallout 76 to see how a successful revival can turn a game around. Whether or not Anthem 2.0 can pull this off remains to be seen, but if Outriders can deliver on what it is promising, it is sure to take some of the limelight away from an Anthem relaunch.