Today we acquired some fresh insights into Anthem’s Javelin customisation approach. This stream was primarily focused on character personalisation (think skins, colours, vinyls, materials etc) and was once again run by Lead Producer Ben Irving, being joined by Associate Producer Leah Shinkewski and Character Director Francis Lacuna.
But first, some disclaimers:
- Not ALL of the elements shown are available at the beginning of the game, and BioWare were not talking about everything available right now
- BioWare chose not to explain when/where these vanity elements would become available. That is a topic for another day.
- Today was on personalisation only – not customisation (gear). More on gear in the near future!
So, What is Personalisation?
Whilst the stream did not introduce any new Gameplay footage or review gear customisation, it proved to be a fascinating 45min deep-dive into the “personalisation” elements that Team BioWare have been discussing for some time now, whilst also providing some insights into the influences of their approach. Personalisation = Vanity/Cosmetics. Customisation = Gear/Power.
Of note was the introduction by Francis explaining BioWare’s philosophy. In referencing Mass Effect, it was suggested that the team had felt that Commander Shephard’s core uniform and outfits looked great, but that the customisation with armour and weaponry never achieved the successes that they had hoped. As a result, Anthem’s “personalisation” and “customisation” have been built from the ground-up with a visual target specifically for Anthem. And you will see how this benefits players as we explore further below.
Leah then continued to discuss the philosophy of the UI needing to be both intuitive and “frictionless”. As a result, BioWare have placed 8 interactive points across each Javelin suit:
- Legs:Cosmetic and armour variations to Legs
- State of Wear: (degradation)
- Arms: Cosmetic and armour variations to Arms
- Helmet: Cosmetic and armour variations to Helmets
- Paint: Paint Schemes
- Chest: Cosmetic and armour variations to Chest Plate
- Vinyls: Vinyl layers that can be applied on top of your paint styling. (e.g an N7 logo)
- Animations: Include Emotes, Victory Poses and Landing/Arrival Animations.
It was also noted that each Interaction point is given it’s own layer of zoom and rotate. This is an important addition that is sometimes missing in gear configuration screens. Remember: This screen does not relate to anything in regards to: Power, gear, guns and other equippable items. It is purely the vanity/armor aesthetic.
Missed the Stream? Watch it here!
Let’s Talk About Paint, Baby
The paint system is not merely a Shader system as some had anticipated. It is actually rather complex and clearly has seen significant time investment. For example, there are currently 6 different regions on each Javelin to adjust:
- Hard Materials (e.g Metals) – Primary , Secondary, Tertiary
- Soft Materials (e.g Fabrics) – Primary, Secondary, Tertiary
By leveraging materials, you are also not just selecting the colours of a body area, but also the material/texture and reflection properties of said material. This is unique in that it allows an incredibly diverse range of options to your Javelin’s look, when considering sunlight, reflections, water and “state of wear” of an item. It was even insinuated that you could create a “metallic-finished cape” when leveraging the materials elements. *Gulp*.
Metal, Material and Palettes
- If you select metals – these are all earth-centric – thus the colours available will only be relevant to the material type.
- With the use of patterns, you can achieve seemingly two different shades of the one colour on the same area of Javelin.
- There is a feature where you “Reset” the default look of the Ranger, which returns the Javelin to a flat white surface.
- You can also build your own colour palettes – being equipped with a Full colour spectrum wheel – allowing you to save and retain colours used.
- The Regions are designed/identified based on the way BioWare created the Javelin suits. This allows for a truly eloquent match to the exo-suit’s design. Potentially this means you could spend many hours defining the way you want your suit to ultimately turn out.
- Inversely, the system may prove a little overwhelming for those not interested in refined adjustment. To compensate for this, whenever you create a new loadout, you can name and save it. This allows you to quickly jump in and out of your exo-suits designs.
- The system also allows you to “select all” for certain regions. E.g if you just want an all-black suit – it’s super efficient.
- Lastly, if you need to rush out, you can select from a handful of templates already laid out by BioWare!
Colour, Randomisation and Limitations
- Currently there is no randomising of colours – but the suggestion was noted by Leah and it was implied that it would be kept as feedback. We feel this will be an important feature for those uninterested in constantly adjusting designs, however, BioWare likely has higher priorities for now. Time will tell.
- You currently cannot apply singular paint-schemes to multiple Javelins. They may review this as a post-launch feature. This we also feel will be important. And is reminiscent of MMOs and even racing games – based on their unique physical differences and properties. We feel this is reasonable given that each Javelin suit also bears it’s own unique design. However, we suspect that most gamers will like the option to “best-fit” their personally designed scheme to all Javelins where possible.
- There will most certainly be nods to other I.Ps from BioWare throughout Anthem personalisation. For example – Mass Effect and DragonAge.
- Visor colours on helmets will also be able to be changed…though…not just now.
- Your “Gear/weapons” also inherit the colour schemes of the Paint scheme you opt to use. This is a very good feature, for those wanting to maintain a theme.
So, What About Weapons?
- Weapons will have their own unique look and appearance
- But they are not adjusted and tweaked in the same way that the personalisation elements are.
- Expect to see more along those lines in future streams and reveals from BioWare.
Animations, Poses & Emotes, Oh My!
What excited us most in-stream were the animations and emotes. They are looking pretty schmick and will prove a pleasant escape from the realities of the world of Mirrus.
Animation elements include:
- Victory Pose: Is the pose that appears with you and your friends at the end of each mission
- Arrival Animation: Any time you enter the game or join an existing time in progress, this is the engaged animation. At this point in time, this could not be show for now.
- Emote: A total of 17 Emotes were observable in the stream, with only a handful of those actually having completed animations. They were:
- Finger Guns
- Kung Fu
- Don’t Talk to Me
- Big Laugh
- Look-Back Shoulder
- Heavy Air Guitar
- Over There
- Big Clap
- Air Boxing
- Come Here
- Caesar Thumbs Down
- B-Boy Taunt
- Dust Shoulders
- It was also alluded to that Colossus has a “back-flip” elements. Errmm. HYPE!
Loadouts and the Legion of Dawn
- Each suit has a base chassis (their lowest defined level), with an exception to helmets.
- Helmets can be switched completely out, though other armor parts can be built upon/added to.
- If you select a body part (e.g. arms), you can easily equip the relevant armor to each arm.
- The Legion of Dawn in this case, has it’s own parts and materials for each region of your Javelin – but you can also easily modify it’s colour palette to your liking.
- Pro-tip: Go Silver and Gold. Giggidy.
- A reminder: if you pre-order, you will get the Javelin Legion of Dawn Armor. And if you pre-order the Legion of Dawn edition, you will receive all 4!
- You can save load-outs for all of your Javelins – currently up to 5! However, expect this number to change as we approach launch
Wear State (degradation)
- You can choose if you want your exosuit to look beat-up, dirty, grimy or have chipped paint-work
- As the wear option is material-based, it applies to the relevant materials selected.
- So if you apply it to cloth, then it would appear stained. If you had metal, then you might get dull or worn elements to the metal etc.
- Vinyls are decals that you can layer over your Javelin paint work
- Visible vinyls shown were Anthem faction-oriented, variations of skulls, stars and of course the eclectic N7 logo.
- Once you have a certain vinyl, it will apply to any Javelin.
- It may not work on all parts of the suit, but as close as possible for consistency. In short “the spirit of the vinyl” is preserved across ALL suits.
- You cannot change paint elements on Vinyls. BioWare considered the required variables. But it had negative impacts on game performance, and was less elegant in the UI design.
- You cannot make custom logos in-game. Vinyls are the nearest element.
- Ben uses an “Australian Rugby inspired” skin for his Ranger. Because Australians are awesome.
- The chat vehemently demanded the N7 Skin…and BioWare naturally complied.
- There is no way to auto-match colours to relevant vinyls once you apply them at the moment. Though BioWare are reviewing this.
Javelins in General
- Based on popular votes, the team opted to show Storm as the second Javelin.
- From head to toe, it was just sheer perfection. And everyone in chat gawked:
- A slightly camo-themed Colossus emerged from a series of presets by Francis. He was clearly nerding out in the process, and it was a real pleasure to see the pride shown behind some of these designs. No further details however were discussed on these alternate Javelins designs.
Overall, for Freelancers closely following the game, the Live-Stream was fruitful and interesting. The depth of personalistation here is un-precedented. It is clear that BioWare have looked at what other developers have done in the MMO/Lite-MMO space and determined a way to keep characters true their designs, unique enough for player differentiation with a system built from the ground-up. A system that not only introduces complexities like materials and textures, but manages to synchronise it with the developer tools used in the original Javelin design. The next stream from BioWare is likely to run again in 2 weeks time. Keep it locked to Anthem Universe to explore more from Anthem and the Developers!
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