The Jon Warner GameInformer Interview

Articles

By Oh_Gaz

Yesterday, GameInformer Host Ben Hanson spent time with Anthem Game Director Jonathan Warner to explore, discuss and unlock both the many asked and un-asked questions of our elusive Anthem. Amongst many, many “Absolutely’s” John explored some detail we already knew and some that we were still speculating over.

Following is a summary and key-points discussed:

Team’s Reactions to Reactions:

  • Warner discussed the joy in seeing gamers finally pick up a controller and engage a Javelin.

“It’s our game together”

  • Warner described the in-game philosophy and approach to team-focused design.

Romance

  • Jonathan discussed the influence of their relationship design to Anthem
  • In particular that their focus has been on the camaraderie, perhaps with some flirtation, but it comes with an overall greater focus on the combined journey of the crew and the experiences they are going to have.
  • Jonathan referenced relationships in KOTOR as an excellent guide, commenting to the relationships that players developed with the great Jedi Bastila Shan in the original Knights of the Old Republic game.

Story Depth

  • Its an interesting story with classic adventure elements
  • Is it branching like Dragon Age and mass effect 2? No. Not as complex, given the shared world concept etc.
  • Freelancers have a long history. They have fallen into dis-repute. It is up you to drive and hearken back to the glory days.
  • Your character will be voiced. You’re a brash hero
  • There seems to be a liberal awe about who we are. Almost renegade, radical and absurd in it’s approach to how we live as Freelancers.
  • There is conflict within your crew, and you need to make decisions
  • The game takes a very clean slate approach. Your new to the scene. And this will play a big part of the storytelling. It means that you don’t need a history. The history is what you make it in Anthem.

Story and Writing

  • The impact of Drew Karyshyn on the story was discussed. He had some impact. Was originally part time in their Austin studio, working on SWTOR.
  • He was never the lead writer for Anthem, but was brought over and provided some excellent writing elements to what will be the final game.

Simplified Dialogue Tree

  • There is no intention to dive as deep into dialog trees compared to say the more traditional Bioware games.
  • Simplified Branching Dialogue, evolving interface and UI to streamline and make it more approachable.

The Origins of Anthem the Game

  • Discussed the difficulty in the modern era in naming a franchise, compared to the years ago on Bioware and Mass Effect.
  • It was an exhaustive and long search through copyright, steam, google play and more to lock down a name that could stick and be owned by Bioware.
  • Alternate names discussed were: “Javelin”.

Seeing your OWN Face In-Game/Cutcscenes

  • When out of your suit, you are in first-person
  • When in combat, outside of Fort Tarsis, you are in third-person
  • You will see your face when looking at your pilot in the UI
  • “The camera control is never taken away from the player. This is going to be a more intimate experience than maybe you’ve had in the past”
  • The game was originally specc’d as being entirely in first-person, but opted for 3rd person in order to better experience and see the output from your Javelin’s actions

The Ever-Changing World

  • The ever-changing world concept is NOT about change the actual geometry of the world.
  • Its more about day-night-weather cycles.
  • We want you to traverse, re-traverse and master the terrain
  • This can bear impact on the tactical choices you make
  • “We want you to get comfortable with the terrain, but also want to have something fresh and surprising there for you”
  • The fact that Anthem runs on dedicated servers allows Bioware the control to manage the ever-changing world. Eg: A migration of creatures or Or a gigantic weather event OR something that “turns on” etc.
  • These events are typically Bioware-controlled at the moment.
  • Enemies listed as examples: Vulgen? Ursecs? Gigantic ape-like insect creatures.

Impact of your actions on Fort Tarsis

  • We need to have places to display the consequences of your actions.
  • The Strider and Tarsis will be said places.

Are there Non-combat mini-games in Tarsis?

  • To Be Decided

Any Bioware’s past Voice Actor’s coming back:

  • Brand new cast for this outing

Mission Structure and Quests

  • There are dailies/weekly challenges
  • Main missions
  • Sides quests
  • Repeatable activities

Flow of Gameplay/Loop

  • Bioware doesn’t want to force the social interaction
  • But you are given the control to decide how you interact with eachother so you can get in and out of Tarsis as needed to meet and engage, regardless of where you are in the story.

High Level Players playing with Low Level Players

  • Bioware will scale
  • As an example, whilst you may be an experienced Pilot, you may not have levelled up your Interceptor Javelin. So as a player, you have an option to choose a more appropriate-level Javelin exo-suit that will better complement your lower-levelled Freelancer friend.
  • Difficulty and Damage will be scaled to accommodate the level gap if its evident between player’s Javelins.

The Size of the Anthem open-world

  • Think of Anthem less as a flat plain with bumps, and more as a volume, condiering verticality of water and sky locations. It’s a big world.
  • “We pushed the ability of the Frostbite engine to accommodate the above”

Walking outside of Fort Tarsis without a Javelin?

  • No it is not possible.
  • I mean you could do it in the lore…but…it would be dangerous. And probably lead to a short life-span

The Break-Down of Armour

  • There are different elements of armour. You are attaching different pieces to your suit – which all play a cosmetic purpose.
  • The value of your gear/gear score if you will, is determined by the suit itself that you have and the perks that you have enabled given your Pilot stats and character profile.

Cosmetic Damage on Javelins

  • The suits can get damaged in combat, but will regain their health, etc level by picking up health packs. Thus no need to return to Tarsis necessarily for repairs.

What happens when Team Mates go-down…

  • There is a heal capability.

What systems are in-place to avoid bullet-sponge Enemies

  • Players are given tactical choice
  • Not all about pumping x number of bullets
  • Its about selecting and eliminating the most dangerous enemies first
  • Its not just about your firearms, but your powers, and augmentations added during your progress.

Sniper Rifles

  • Bioware are balancing Sniper Rifles at the moment. They are currently in the game.

Melee Attacks?

  • All Javelins have an assigned melee attack. They are specific to the Javelin suit you occupy.

Jon’s Favourite Javelin

  • Likes it’s personality, fits his personality
  • Prefers agile/lighter suits that do a tonne of damage

Thruster Heat Management

  • When you dive, it cools your Thrusters
  • When you land in water, it cools your Thrusters
  • When you receive Ice Damage, it…funnily enough…cools your thrusters

Striders

  • You cannot currently upgrade your Strider.

Weapons – can you upgrade an existing weapon that is no longer of use?

  • You would need to acquire new weapons as you level-up. Currently you cannot modify that element.

Campaign Length?

  • “Just Long Enough”

Comparisons to ME3 Multiplayer

  • You don’t have set character kits in Anthem per se
  • You can build your own type kits, therefore the game becomes more about unlocking, and creating your Javelin.

Gear

  • Bioware are looking closely at weapon versions, weapon upgrades and the challenge of just “pushing for a number”. In Anthem, once you’ve equipped your suit.
  • But the system is not static. Consider gear elements from Diablo3 as a influence to this end. (Editor’s Note: EXCITE!)

End Game

  • Team are working heard on making a good experience
  • It comes down to: What type of player are you? Are you an explorer? A story player and just wants to consume lore? Or do you want to keep going in for more loot, better gear etc. Again, comparisons drawn to Diablo3.

Raids

  • These will be spoken about later.
  • They are definitely DIFFERENT from Strongholds

PVP

  • Anthem is a co-operative ability at it’s heart.
  • There is a concern of balance with the variety weapons, so for now, Bioware are choosing to not work on this.

Friends List

  • If you have no friends on your platform? There are systems inplace to provide a social experience. It will always be easy to play with others and filter for activities that you want to do.

Respawn – Titanfall Crossover?

  • Jon says never say never in response to any potential Titanfall crossovers down the line.

Interceptor

  • More will be shown of the Interceptor in late summer 2018. No Date yet.

Will this game be good?

  • Yes

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By Oh_Gaz

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