BioWare’s Anthem is dead; long live BioWare’s Anthem

BioWare’s Anthem is dead
(Image credit: EA)

Anthem, BioWare’s ambitious live-service shooter, faced an uphill battle from the start. It wasn’t really what fans expected from the single-player RPG developer. It suffered from a small player base and unbalanced gameplay. And, when push came to shove, it apparently just couldn’t get the resources it needed. 

As of today (February 24), Anthem’s long-awaited revamp, Anthem Next, is officially off the table. The game isn’t going dark anytime soon, but Anthem, as an ongoing project, is pretty much over.

Information comes from Christian Dailey, a studio director, on BioWare’s official blog. In a short, straightforward post entitled “Anthem Update,” Christian Dailey explained that Anthem Next will no longer be happening, and that the game as it stands — warts and all — is what players will have for the foreseeable future.

“We’ve made the difficult decision to stop our new development work on Anthem (aka Anthem Next),” Daily wrote. “We will, however, continue to keep the Anthem live service running at it exists today.”

To compress a very long and complicated story into a small space: Anthem is a multiplayer action game that debuted in 2019 to decidedly mixed acclaim. BioWare’s focus on worldbuilding and character development felt distinctly at-odds with Anthem’s focus on multiplayer, while the gameplay itself got repetitive quickly. Critics and fans alike adored the nuanced, joyful flight mechanics, but that’s about the only aspect of the game that left a universally positive impression.

BioWare released a series of patches to improve the Anthem experience, but the player base never really hit a critical mass. Furthermore, the core gameplay wasn’t really substantial enough to sustain Anthem past its mediocre initial story. 

When it became clear that Anthem needed a ground-up reworking, BioWare promised Anthem Next: a project that would keep what fans enjoyed (the flight and combat) while streamlining and redesigning the game’s more problematic features.

Now, of course, that won’t happen.

“Working from home during the pandemic has had an impact on our productivity and not everything we had planned as a studio before COVID-19 can be accomplished without putting undue stress on our teams,” Dailey said. 

As with many other gaming projects from 2020, Anthem Next seems to be a casualty of a global public health crisis.

“Moving forward,” he continued, “we need to laser focus our efforts as a studio and strengthen the next Dragon Age, and Mass Effect titles while continuing to provide quality updates to Star Wars: The Old Republic.”

While we may never learn exactly what went on behind the scenes, fan indifference toward Anthem, combined with the Covid-19 pandemic, seems to have made Anthem Next an unworkable proposition. BioWare has no immediate plans to take the game’s servers down, but if you’ve been morbidly curious about what the game has to offer, I’d check it out sooner rather than later.

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.