I haven't played Anthem in about a week, and all of my friends who played the game have long since gone as well. I don't know how many players are left, but I'm willing to hazard a guess and say it's not nearly as many as Bioware would like. I think that the reason players are bailing out on Anthem isn't just because of loot drop-rates and inscriptions - those are just symptoms of an underlying problem: Anthem doesn't actually have any meaningful progression system at all.
When I write 'meaningful progression system,' here's what I mean: (almost) every activity that you complete in the game should give you something that you feel contributes to the progression of your character. This is a critical part of what makes a good loot-based game in 2019, and a crucial element in making a grind enjoyable.
For those of you who will say "Well I played Everquest 1 and that game was just a pure grind with no guaranteed reward at the end, gamers these days are so entitled," stop. If somebody had their water cut off by their landlord for no reason, and complained about not being able to take a shower, the appropriate response would not be "Wow, you're so entitled for wanting your landlord to provide you with running water. Back in my day, we'd just go down to the river and beat our hair with rocks if we wanted to be clean." We're not playing Everquest 1. Times have changed, and expectations have changed with them. People expect Anthem and its systems to be reflective of the massive evolutions that have occurred in loot-based games over the past decade, and there's nothing entitled about that.
Anyways, Anthem lacks any sort of meaningful progression system at a fundamental level. To make this a constructive post and to illustrate this, I figured I'd give some examples of what a meaningful progression system could look like:
Embers. The game should have the ember crafting system dramatically expanded. For starters, there should be an ember economy. Allow us to combine 5-10 rare embers to create an epic ember, 5-10 epics to create a masterwork ember, and 5-10 masterworks to create a legendary ember. Legendary weapons and gear should then be able to be crafted by using a significant amount of embers combined with other harvestable materials. This would allow blue and epic drops - which are useless past GM1 - to actually serve a purpose apart from being consumable fodder.
Armor sets and other cosmetics. There should be in-game armor sets and other cosmetics locked behind completing certain activities that will never be put in the cash shop. Since the javelins in the game are the main focus of player customization - Bioware's words, not mine - there should be meaningful ways to contribute to that customization just by playing the game that don't involve the cash shop. For example, maybe after running Tyrant Mines on GM 3 25 times, as well as completing other requirements like killing a certain number of skorpions with - I dunno, fire maybe? Something to encourage the use of specific abilities - you get a skorpion-themed armorset for your javelin of choice, like you're wearing the Tyrant Queen's husk into battle. You could also have material unlocks that function in the same way - for example, kill 200 skorpions using weakpoint damage to unlock the 'skorpion carapace' metal material.Allowing players to grind for specific, worthwhile cosmetics in-game that can only be earned by playing the game - aka, will never show up in the cash shop - is a staple of loot-based games. It allows players to focus on something other than just loot, and encourages them to go after specific objectives and playstyles. Currently the only thing in the game like this is the Champion of Tarsis quest, and that's - well, it's just horribly implemented, requiring far too much for far too little.
Re-rolling inscriptions, as well as adding inscription floors and ceilings. The loot system right now just doesn't work. The fact that you can get a legendary gun with a 3% damage increase inscription is laughable. legendaries should never be more worthless than masterworks considering the amount of time it can take to get a single legendary. To fix this, add in inscription floors and ceilings - for example, have epics give 50-100% bonuses, masterworks give 100-200% bonuses, and legendaries give 200-250% bonuses. Bioware said that they wanted this game to be a power fantasy - well, making sure most legendaries are essentially god-rolled when they drop facilitates that. Being able to re-roll inscriptions Kanai's-cube style would also be a significant improvement. If Bioware does want players to chase god-rolls, then lower the inscription floor for legendaries to something like 100-150%, and drastically increase legendary drop-rates to compensate.
Remove luck and add in duplicate/legendary drop protection, as well as ways to get certain legendaries. Luck is a bad stat. It encourages players to actively gimp themselves in exchange for a chance at better loot. Additionally, RNG in general in Anthem is out of control. Currently, some players can play for 100 hours and end up with 15+ legendaries, while others can play for 100 hours and end up with 1, or even worse, with none. This is an unacceptable amount of RNG. There should be duplicate protection in place that prevents you from getting multiple legendary dupes in a row. There should also be legendary drop protection in place - something that ensures that if you complete a certain activity a certain number of times or play for a certain amount of time on GM+ difficulties, you get a legendary to show for your trouble.I would also like to see certain enemies have 'drop pools' for legendary weapons and gear in order to allow players to actually chase certain builds. For example, perhaps Ash Titans could have a better chance to drop a variety of fire-based legendaries, allowing players chasing certain fire-based builds or gear to have a more reliable method of filling out their build. Once again, loot pools have been a staple of loot-based games for years, and there's no reason for that to change here.
Make GM+ hard in different ways. In GM2 and GM3, enemies - particularly in strongholds - aren't fun, they're just bullet spongy and put out way too much damage. Unfortunately, the way the game scales right now not only makes loot feel useless since enemies increase in power proportionate to you, it also takes away from the combat. Anthem is a movement-based game. Being mobile and flying around while shooting stuff is fun. Being one-shot by basic enemies that you have to pour entire clips of ammo into just to kill encourages slower, more cover-based play, which feels antithetical to the core gameplay loop that the game seems to encourage. Instead, GM2/3 should have more enemies total with incremental health/damage increases (since Bioware seems to love their increments), as this would allow players to experience the "power fantasy" aspect of the game that Bioware pushed so heavily when marketing the game. Assuming rendering more enemies is too difficult, then the AI should be harder to fight by being smarter, not just by being a bullet-spongy mess. Additionally, scaling should be completely removed in GM+ difficulties.
TL;DR: Anthem lacks any sort of meaningful progression system, which makes the game fatiguing to play. By giving players cosmetic rewards they can consistently work towards, creating an ember economy that allows legendary gear and weapons to be crafted, and by changing how the loot system works to make legendaries consistently powerful and easier to attain, this can be at least partially addressed.
thanks tearos111 on reddit for share your thoughts
im grinding to get my 100 freeplay etc but once thats done im not sure why ill keep playing.
all im doing is getting myself better armoured to make GM3 easier which ive been on a few weeks now.
ive barely crafted anything bar consumables as i dont see the point. im after legendaries now so anything less is a bit of a waste unless it has incredible stats.
i cant see me playing this anywhere near as long as destiny.
Yes, all very good ideas. So just yes.
Playing is all about purpose about moving forward making progress, today was an example for me after so many many many runs in freeplay I finally pulled my 10k sun legendary and with a 200% dmg I felt for the first time in weeks that I was making progress with my javelin just a step but yes progress unfortunately that was the only step in a very long boring time. If I had of been assured of getting something I wanted or something that could be rerolled to a better version then that time would not have been so boring cause I would of been working towards,making progress towards getting what I want. thus the feeling of accomplishment And not the standard feeling of god this is pointless.
theres not enough variety. say with destiny 2 there are loads of game types. exotic weapons and armour etc. yet in this ive barely changed my armour and im stuck with my best legendary weapon really as it seems odd to use anything less powerful. freeplay can be very boring as you are sometimes alone which isnt fun on Gm3. plus the icons vanish at times. plus bullet sponge enemies can be a bit boring. i mean do i need 1000 rounds to kill a dude with a balaclava on? :D literally shooting a boss constantly for 40mins isnt really that much fun if you are with underpowered people. or they leave on the last boss anyway.
its a great start of a game but feels unfinished and lacks variety. i'd like to see a pvp mode or an onslaught mode or a pvp/pve crossover like gambit in destiny. just a bit more variety than kill x to get something that is generally useless.