games / Previews

Anthem Press Briefing Recap: No Loot Boxes or Blind Buys

December 6, 2018 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
BioWare Anthem

Ahead of today’s Video Game Awards event, EA and BioWare held a press briefing to showcase the upcoming new game, Anthem. The briefing included the reveal of the new VGA trailer, plus developers Jonathan Warner and Michael Gamble providing a more comprehensive breakdown of Anthem’s world, mythology and lore as well as some significant reveals regarding game mechanics.

Early in the briefing was the debut of the new story trailer (see below) created for The Game Awards featuring some new footage and focusing on some of the newly revealed characters. The trailer also provided the first look at the game’s villains, the Dominion.

The briefing showcased the setting of Fort Tarsis, which is named after the first legendary leader of the Freelancers, General Tarsis. The game is set on an unnamed planet that’s not Earth. Basically, this was a planet that was being created by “gods” who abandoned the planet midway through its creation. The devs reinforced that Anthem has a deep mythology and lore surrounding the factions of the world and how they came to be.

The gods left behind special artifacts called Shaper Artifacts. These artifacts apparently hold the power or secrets to harness and use a special power or energy that resides on the planet that’s called “Anthem.” The villain of the game is the Monitor, leader of a militaristic faction called the Dominion. The Monitor wants to control the power of the Anthem to bring peace to the world by force.

The Dominion originated as part of the original Freelancers. However, one of the conflicts that goes back many years involved a conflict and splintering of the Freelancers, which led to the creation of the Dominion. Now, the Freelancers don’t have a centralized leader at all, and they are more of a loosely allied group. At the start of the game, the Freelancers have fallen on hard times before the player takes on the mantle of a Freelancer.

Players take control of their own Freelancer character with their own specialized Javelin armored suits. There are four different Javelin suit types which are basically like a unique player class for each suit. Players can customize and personalize the Javelins and switch between them throughout the game, so they aren’t fixed to one particular suit class.


As a Freelancer, players will have to venture out into the world of Anthem and brave the the Dominion and the chaotic cataclysms caused by the Shaper artifacts.

At the hub world of Fort Tarsis, there are several characters who were fleshed out during the briefing. First up is Haluk. He’s a Freelancer and mechanic, who appears will be providing repairs and engineering for the experience.

Next up is Faye, who was labeled as a “cypher.” Faye is trained to use special equipment that can communicate across vast distances. She appears to act as a communications expert and navigator for the players. However, apparently there’s an existing relationship between Faye and the player character at the outset of the game. Faye was the player’s former cypher before they parted ways.

The player’s current cypher at the start of the journey will be Owen. He is described as “happy-go-lucky” and “ambitious.” Owen wants to dive into the world of the game and find all there is to explore.

Another new character showcased during the briefing was Brin. Brin is an officer for an organization that polices Fort Tarsis called the Sentinels, who are led by a “Commander Vool(?).” Brin was described as “quirky” and the person who provides the law and order for Fort Tarsis.

A more mysterious character shown for the presentation was Agent Tassyn. She’s a member of a clandestine spy-like group in Fort Tarsis. She will be a source of missions and adventures for the player as they venture out into the game world, and she will also provide players with a fancy, new Javelin, which are very valuable in this world.

Some new gameplay footage for a new mission, “A Simple Job,” was shown during the briefing. For this mission, players are called upon by Brin to provide backup security for a group of Arcanists trying to study some Shaper Artifacts. The new gameplay showed a new javelin called the “Storm.” This Javelin has some elemental and lightning-based attacks.

In terms of the game world, there are other cities and settlements similar to Fort Tarsis.

During the briefing, Warner confirmed that there will be no loot boxes in the game or any type of blind buys. So, it appears that while there will be micro-transactions and items that can be purchased in-game with real money, none of it is available in a loot box form. Additionally, everything can be earned in-game by playing the game rather than spending real, actual money.

Warner stated, “No loot boxes. No blind draws. If you choose to spend money with us, you always know what you’re buying. It’s all cosmetic. It’s all about vanity. It’s all about looking cool to your friends or strangers. That comes in different forms: pieces for your armor; it’s animations; it’s emotes. All of it can be earned by playing.” He continued, “If you’re an 11-year-old kid and you’ve got nothing but time on your hands, but two bucks in your pocket, have at it.”

Gamble also added on the in-game economy, “One of the folks in Tarsis named Prospero — he’s a good guy — he runs a shop. You can buy all the things with real money or in-game money. There’s many, many ways to get a lot of in-game money.”


In terms of future PvP, the devs admitted there’s been some “tinkering” with it, but the focus for the game is the PvE experience. Warner said, “We don’t have anything on the immediate horizon,” regarding PvP for the game but didn’t rule it out entirely for the future. Gamble went on, “Honestly, the whole game is balanced for PvE right now. So, to have people really, really love how it is to fight enemies alongside people.”

BioWare will hold two demo sessions for the game. The first one will be a VIP demo for players who pre-ordered the game early that will run from January 25-27. Players who take part in this event will receive an exclusive in-game item to show they were part of the first group to play the demo.

The matchmaking for the game was described as “drop-in” and “drop-out” matchmaking. The devs reinforced that players won’t have to search on Reddit to form a party with someone, but they did impress that a large part of the appeal of the game was the co-op aspect and going on missions with friends and other players. However, Gamble did iterate that players can still play the game single-player if they wish.

On February 1, the game will hold its open demo that will be open to “everyone.” This event will run from February 1-3 ahead of the game’s launch later that month.

BioWare Anthem

Anthem is due out on February 22, 2019. The game will be available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC.

article topics :

Anthem, Bioware, Jeffrey Harris