Anthem is a loot shooter; that means that its primary functions should enable the player to shoot things and, in turn, earn loot. That process has been a little rockier than BioWare intended. The process of equipping weapons requires load screens and menus, and last week, players discovered that a level 1 rifle was the most powerful weapon in the game. Now, it appears that if removing support items makes players significantly stronger.
A brief explanation is that removing your support items increases your damage, because the most recent patch scales damage based off your average item level. Removing low level items doesn’t make the slot a zero; it removes that slot from the average calculation altogether. That means that, unless you have a full set of end game gear, it’s mathematically more powerful to just abandon the low-level items that would drag your average down. You will do as much damage as you would if you were decked out in the best gear around.
It’s been a frustrating time for Anthem players since the game’s launch, and much of the frustration centers around the rewards granted in the endgame. Right now, completing the endgame strongholds and events isn’t providing much in the way of gear, which, in a MMO-like loot shooter, removes the point of doing them at all.
There are changes to loot rarity and inscription in the works, but the real issue for many players is the quantity of loot acquired over a session. Players are annoyed enough to have organized a weeklong boycott of the game, in the hopes that BioWare will crank the quantity of end game drops up alongside the recent change to quality.
Anthem isn’t the only game that’s worked through similar issues. Early on in World of Warcraft’s latest expansion, Battle for Azeroth, players would strip gear to become stronger, thanks to the changes to Legion’s legendary items and character scaling. Both titles share a similar issue: Players want to feel like they’ve evolved and grown stronger as a result of finishing the campaign and working through the endgame, but the game struggles to provide that satisfaction.
Indeed, the sense of progression and growth is one of the most important parts of a loot shooter. A javelin is meant to be a powerful tool and an expression of a Freelancer’s personality. Hopefully, BioWare can tweak their systems to make equipping a javelin much more satisfying.