Anthem has faced a myriad of issues since its launch last week, but none of the bugs even compare to the frustration stemming from the game’s broken loot system.
Anthem is not in a good place right now, and I’m not talking about bugs or game design choices. To BioWare’s credit, this weekend’s 1.0.3 update addressed many of the game’s bugs, including an issue that was causing the game to crash on PlayStation 4.
I’m referring to game’s loot problem, an incredibly big problem for a game billed as a looter-shooter. You see, a game like Anthem, despite how fun the gameplay and combat is, is reliant on rewarding players for their work. The endless grind must have some sort of worthwhile payoff. Right now that is not the case and players aren’t too happy about it.
One only needs a quick glance at the Anthem subreddit to see frustration boiling. The problem seems to be two-fold: inscriptions on Masterwork and Legendary items are bad, and the drop rate is too low to compensate for this. The amount of time you have to put into farming for a piece of gear that isn’t even guaranteed to be an upgrade to your current gear is frustrating players.
Making matters worse, players got a taste of what an improved loot system would feel like. On Friday, for whatever reason, Anthem started raining down Masterwork and Legendary gear. A single end-game Stronghold mission resulted in multiple high-end gear drops.
It was unclear at the time if this was intentional or a bug, but it didn’t matter. For a short while, players were happy with the drop rate. Then patch 1.0.3 went live on Saturday and the drop rate fell significantly. It has now become a painful grind.
BioWare attempted to address the issue when they said they tuned inscriptions to be more useful. While that may be true, finding a piece of gear with an inscription that matches your playstyle or fits a build you’re going for doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be an improvement or upgrade over the piece of gear your wearing. Anthem‘s end game right now is grinding for hours in hopes of finding a Legendary that actually boosts your stats. And right now, it’s way too hard.
The randomness of the roll isn’t the only issue, though. It’s the randomness coupled with the fact that drops are so infrequent. Even crafting is a pain with Masterwork Embers dropping so rarely.
Now Chad Robertson, BioWare’s Head of Live Service, has responded to players on Twitter. He admitted that the team is also “not yet fully happy with the game’s loot behavior either.” However, he also added that Anthem‘s complex loot system makes it harder to know how a particular change is truly impacting the game.
“In the next few months, we’re expecting to make significant changes, but we’re starting with some incremental ones so we can better navigate that evolution. Our goal is to ensure the best possible player experience,” he added.
Unfortunately, for BioWare, they may not have a few months. Players are incredibly frustrated and yelling into an echo chamber. With The Division 2 releasing this week, Anthem now faces some steep competition in the shooter-looter space. And unfortunately for BioWare, Ubisoft has experience on its side.
Anthem‘s loot system may be complex, but the solution is simple. In fact, there are multiple routes BioWare could take with Anthem‘s loot system, and players are openly offering valid feedback. There are multiple posts that get into the mathematics behind Anthem‘s low drop rate compared to games like Diablo and Destiny.
It boils down to one thing though; players want loot in a looter-shooter. It sounds obvious, but for some reason, BioWare is resistant to give the players what they want. People want to like Anthem – I want to like Anthem – but BioWare is doing its best to frustrate and punish players.
Turn on the shower and let it rain Masterwork and Legendary gear. This would at least offset the poor stat and inscription rolls and at least give players a glimmer of hope when they see a Masterwork or Legendary piece of gear drop.
Of course, this is just a temporary solution to keep the current player base happy. Further down the road, BioWare needs to look into added more varied loot, making Legendary items actually feel and look awesome, and making it so you can combine crafting materials and upgrade them to the next tier up (ie. combine 10 Epics to create 1 Masterwork Ember).