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Anthem redesign canceled at BioWare

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BioWare and EA end work on ‘Anthem Next’

A Javelin leaps to attack a wyvern in Anthem Image: BioWare/Electronic Arts

BioWare and publisher Electronic Arts are giving up on Anthem. The planned overhaul of the 2019 game — referred to as Anthem Next or Anthem 2.0 — is coming to an end, BioWare said in an update on the status of Anthem. The studio will continue to run the current live service for Anthem.

“In the spirit of transparency and closure we wanted to share that we’ve made the difficult decision to stop our new development work on Anthem (aka Anthem NEXT),” BioWare executive producer Christian Dailey said in a post on the BioWare blog. “We will, however, continue to keep the Anthem live service running as it exists today.”

Dailey noted that the COVID-19 pandemic and work-from-home orders “had an impact on our productivity.”

“I know this will be disappointing to the community of Anthem players who have been excited to see the improvements we’ve been working on,” Dailey said. “It’s also disappointing for the team who were doing brilliant work. And for me personally, Anthem is what brought me to BioWare, and the last two years have been some of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my career.

“Game development is hard. Decisions like these are not easy. Moving forward, 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.”

BioWare announced in February 2020, a year after Anthem launched to a tepid response from fans and critics, that it planned to redesign the game. The goal in overhauling Anthem was to “reinvent the core gameplay loop,” said then-BioWare general manager Casey Hudson. (Hudson has since left BioWare.)

“[We] recognize that there’s still more fundamental work to be done to bring out the full potential of the experience, and it will require a more substantial reinvention than an update or expansion,” Hudson said last year. He explained that BioWare was pausing seasonal updates to Anthem to focus on “a longer-term redesign of the experience, specifically working to reinvent the core gameplay loop with clear goals, motivating challenges and progression with meaningful rewards — while preserving the fun of flying and fighting in a vast science-fantasy setting.”

BioWare released a handful of public-facing status updates on Anthem in the subsequent months. BioWare Austin studio director Christian Dailey told players that the Anthem team’s work would be “a longer process” as it went back to the drawing board. Dailey posted two gameplay updates, one focusing on loot and equipment goals, and one focusing on Javelin builds. Dailey has since gone on to become the executive producer of the Dragon Age series, replacing Mark Darrah, who left BioWare in December.

Anthem was released on PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One in January 2019.