After going into hiding for the last month, BioWare have finally opened up about the future of Anthem in a live stream to talk about the upcoming Cataclysm event that will conclude the extended Act 1 of the game’s live service. Today’s 1.2.0 update was a foundational update, but the path between now and the launch of Cataclysm will include a stint on a Public Test Server for PC, set to go live next week.
Either watch the embedded stream archive or scroll down for a bit of an FAQ on what we’ve learnt about the event.
When can I play Cataclysm, and how long will it last?
While we don’t know exactly when it will start, we do know it won’t be until some time after E3. There’s a few weeks of planned time on the PTS, after which BioWare will take feedback on board, balance it, and then release the event.
Cataclysm will be an eight week long event – a two week pre-event where you can take on challenges and earn cosmetics, and then six weeks with the main event that introduces a whole new area, The Cataclysm, and with a new challenge mode to take part in for new and more powerful rewards. That will be wrapped up with a new critical path of story featuring three new mission and additional cutscenes to push the world of Anthem forward.
How can I get on the PTS?
The PTS is PC-only, but it will be available to all players who own Anthem or have EA Origin Premium. Just beware that it’s a separate client and so you will need to have enough space for two copies of the game.
The server is set to go live some time next week, but BioWare note that it won’t be available 24/7. Instead it will initially target certain days, to try and get enough players on the servers to play together, but that might be changed to certain time windows.
It’s anticipated that the PTS will run for just a few weeks with builds that gradually add more features to try out, starting with the Cataclysm mode itself.
What is the new Cataclysm game mode?
We’ve seen cataclysms take place in the main game before, but this one has been triggered by the new leader of the Dominion, Vara. Your ultimate goal in Cataclysm is to stop her before time runs out, but BioWare have added a high score element to the mode as well.
You have 12 minutes to complete the Cataclysm, but any time spent in the storm will drain your resistance to the storm before eventually reducing you armour and health until you die. The way to get out of this is to find the Arenas dotted around the map. These can be triggered to create a temporary safe zone from the storm, and completing little objectives, such as stabilising seven power rods, will add to your score and multiplier. There’s also ways to extend the amount of time that you have and if you manage to defeat Vara, your score is doubled.
It will cater to varying difficulty levels by being easy to complete, but challenging to climb the leaderboard.
Is that it? Sounds a bit samey…
Kind of, but this will be a dynamic game mode. BioWare will be mixing up the rewards you can earn from one week to the next and also adding what they call ‘Inversions’.
These are modifiers that will run through the week that could alter the rate that your Ultimate charges, double damage of shotguns and SMGs, and so on. Oh, and you’ll want to keep playing it to earn the reward currency.
Does Cataclysm add any new areas to Anthem?
Yes! Cataclysm adds a new area to the game, completely separate from the open world that the main game takes place in. It has a bit of a Pacific coastal feel, but is combined with the grand scale of the world of Anthem, and it’s wracked by the storms of a cataclysm.
Have they fixed loot yet?
OK, so maybe not quite, but they’re definitely getting there. One of the things that BioWare explained was that they will be removing the Luck stat from armour, which would affect how often loot drops from enemies. Now you effectively have maximum Luck by default, and in addition to changes in the 1.2.0 update to mark enemies that will drop loot.
Elsewhere, they’re rebalancing GM3 difficulty to make different builds more or less viable.
What new rewards and loot does Cataclysm bring?
Of course there are! The pre-event has various challenges to beat and vanities to earn while Cataclysm includes:
- New weapons
- New masterwork gear
- Melee equippable slot – variants of existing melee weapons
- New Masterwork and Legendary support gear
- All NEW items will have a higher power level than existing items. Currently the masterwork and legendary versions are 5 item levels higher.
You won’t be getting these as drops from enemies, but will have to earn currency from taking part in the Cataclysm event. That can then be taken to a new vendor in Fort Tarsis and redeemed for War Chests including that week’s gear. BioWare admit that the powerful new weapons will probably be held back until toward the end of the six weeks.
So is Anthem going to be good now?
Well, that’s obviously subjective, and the game still has problems, but I must admit that Cataclysm looks interesting. In particular, you can look to the Kotaku expose on the game’s development and how it changed. Some parts of Cataclysm – of surviving the elements and seeing how far you can get before you die, time out or beat the boss and return to the hub – look a lot like some of the original game ideas from when Anthem was called Beyond.
To put it simply, it looks like a promising first step on the road to recovery for this game. We’ll definitely be keeping an eye on Cataclysm and keep you updated on its roll out to the PTS and eventually the game as a whole.