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Anthem loot and gear: 6 new things to know

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BioWare and EA showed off the game’s loot system in a nearly hourlong stream

Anthem is coming up quick, with an expected release date of Feb. 22, 2019. EA and BioWare have been hosting various streams to show off the game’s features and mechanics ahead of release. Last week, lead producer Ben Irving and producer Darrin McPherson took to the Anthem Twitch channel to show off one of the game’s most important features: loot.

We learned a lot from this nearly hourlong stream, and we’ve collected some highlights below.

There are multiple rarities, and power is an average of all your gear

Like Destiny 2, Diablo 3, World of Warcraft and a dozen other loot-based RPGs, Anthem will have a rarity system divided by colors. Items will be designated as common, uncommon, rare, epic, masterwork and legendary. Masterwork and legendary are almost identical, with legendary just being slightly better stat-wise and having a few more minor effects called “inscriptions;” if you’ve played Diablo 3, legendary masterworks seem akin to ancient gear. Both of the higher tiers also have special names and perks associated with them and them alone.

All of these items come with a power level when they’re dropped, denoting how strong they’ll be in your arsenal. Like other games, this will contribute to your overall power level or, as Anthem calls it, “gear score.” Gear score is an average of all your equipped gear put together. The higher your gear score, the higher the rarity of your Javelin. A gear score of 225 on a Colossus, for example, will make your Colossus rare. But at 433, your Javelin will be legendary. This will be used to communicate and gate certain difficulty levels for players.

Anthem - two players shooting a Scar BioWare/Electronic Arts

Every gear piece has “inscriptions”

More akin to Diablo 3 or Tom Clancy’s The Division, each piece of gear in Anthem will have multiple inscriptions on them. These are small bonus effects that grow more powerful the higher power level your item and more numerous based on the rarity. They add bonuses to specific things, like a percent increase to your flight time or how much ammo you can carry.

Common items don’t seem to have any inscriptions, while uncommon has one and legendary pieces of gear have five. All of these bonuses are additive and can impact your play style pretty directly.

There are random rolls, but you can supplement with crafting

Destiny players should be familiar with the term “random roll,” a group of perks or stats that come differently each time the same weapon is acquired. Anthem has something similar. While the weapon-specific attributes — like perks on masterwork weapons — will come the same every time, their inscriptions and possibly their stats will roll differently each time a weapon is picked up. This gives players that perfect incentive to get their favorite gun with all the attributes that play into their style of gameplay.

But random rolls can be annoying on a particularly difficult to get gun. Anthem won’t let you re-roll perks with a currency like Diablo 3 will, but the game will let you supplement your bad luck with crafting. There is a chance when weapons drop that you’ll earn their blueprint and can craft it as much as you want back at your home base. These blueprints scale, so even if you acquire one early in the game, it’ll be available forever. These crafted items also come with random rolls, so you can keep trying for that perfect combination of inscriptions as long as you have the materials to do so.

Status effect primers and detonators can be used to combo

One of Anthem’s most unique systems is all about combos. Different pieces of gear have different properties. Some weapons are primers — which coat your enemy in an element — and other are detonators — causing primed targets to be combo’d. Enemies can be primed and detonated by members of your squad or solo, meaning that, the more Javelins you have, the more explosive the results will be.

Combos work differently depending on the type of Javelin you’re using. For Rangers, executing a combo will do high single target damage. For Colossus, a combo will cause the target to explode and deal area damage. With the Storm, you can combo an enemy to make the element they’re primed with chain to other nearby foes. Combo-ing with the Interceptor will surround the Javelin with an aura of a specific element, letting you easily apply it to any nearby targets.

Anthem screen BioWare/Electronic Arts

Components are essentially trinkets

Since the Javelins are already pre-built, and the Anthem team decided to separate cosmetics from gameplay, the actual gear pieces can’t really be seen on the Javelin’s exterior. Instead, the gear pieces are called components, and work similarly to trinkets or rings in games like World of Warcraft and Diablo 3.

These components have perks associated with them that can be pretty game changing. The producers showed off one particular component that decreased the cooldown of all skills by 50 percent when hovering, for example. Not all of the components have effects as powerful as that; they’ll depend on the item’s rarity and power.

It’s all about builds

When you put all of this together, you have a game that’s very focused on builds and creating specific character loadouts. The Anthem producers showed off a pretty mobile Ranger build toward the end of the stream. It was focused entirely around gaining cooldowns for abilities as quickly as possible, and each item fed into another in a pretty unique way.

Both McPherson and Irving were giggling while trying to figure out all the different ways the items played into each other. But before they signed off, the two made it clear that these kinds of builds aren’t just for fun, and will be necessary for taking on the game’s Grandmaster difficulty setting.