‘Anthem’ Dev Talks Flight And Sense Of Freedom

A giant Anthem information blowout is still months away, but one developer at BioWare has continued to drop little hints at what to expect from the upcoming PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC sci-fi shooter. Technical Design Director Brenon Holmes provided a little information in response to a fan’s question about flying and exploring.

As previously covered, Holmes hinted the world of Anthem will consist of sub-zones similar to Destiny and will be connected by disguised passageways to allow the game to load assets for a new area. However, he also claimed these areas will be a “fair bit larger” due to the different approach and technology being utilized.

Meanwhile, the Anthem official gameplay reveal trailer from E3 2016 showed players’ Javelin exoskeletons are capable of flying through a map Iron Man-style. One Reddit user noticed the trailer showed a large amount of verticality, with the ability to explore tall cliffs and deep oceans, and was wondering how the flight mechanics will work in the game.

Holmes responded by saying BioWare wants Anthem players to “feel a sense of freedom without exploration mechanics.” He then went into a little more detail which appears to confirm that flight will be tied to a progression system.

“There will be some amount of progression and skill expression with flying, which will affect how far you can go and what you can do in the air.

“There are also limits as to how high you can go, we’re playing around with a flight ceiling prototype right now – it’s fairly subtle, and feels more like a heavy down draft.

“We’ll have to see about specific height limitations… it’s all kind of up in the air right now as it’s mostly dependent on performance.”

It’s unclear if this means players will be able to perform more advanced flight maneuvers like barrel rolls or loops. It will also be interesting to see if Anthem has no-fly zones in order to more tightly control the player experience.

While flight can be fun, it can be tricky to balance in a game. When done improperly, it can make what should seem like a sprawling game world small. ARK: Survival Evolved struggled with this and the developer eventually nerfed flying creatures to compensate. Studio Wildcard eventually excluded flying creatures from the Aberration expansion, though still allowed for short distance gliders. Rival open-world survival title Conan Exiles has gone without flying mounts completely as a result.

Some form of faster travel can be necessary in games with large areas like Anthem, however, to cut down the monotony of traveling through the same space over and over. This is why Sparrows are so useful in Destiny to move through its larger gameplay spaces. It will be interesting to see how BioWare applies the lessons learned from other games.

Anthem is currently slated to be released in the fourth quarter of 2018 with a beta planned sometime before then. Those interested should expect more reveals to drip out over the next couple of months leading up to a huge blowout at E3 in June.

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