As part of the boatload of Anthem information that was released yesterday, developer BioWare revealed that its upcoming sci-fi RPG would not feature the romance gameplay that its other series' are known for. In fact, not only would Anthem not include any romanceable NPC squadmates, but the game will not include any NPC squadmates at all. Discussing this somewhat controversial decision on Twitter, the developer has now explained why.
During an impromptu question and answer session with Anthem executive producer Mark Darrah yesterday, one Anthem fan expressed their "serious concern" at the lack of NPC squadmates. AI-controlled cohorts are one of the main reasons they love other BioWare games and since Anthem lacks that, they are majorly apprehensive about the game. The BioWare fan also wanted to know why co-op seems to be such a significant focus of the game's marketing so far if co-op gameplay is actually optional and the game can be enjoyed solo.
The game is designed around having a co-op experience in combat etc... and then having a more personal story in your hub. https://t.co/Ep89twPqIL— Mark Darrah (@BioMarkDarrah) June 9, 2018
There absolutely are relationships and character interactions. https://t.co/6PMRBmeFi8— Mark Darrah (@BioMarkDarrah) June 9, 2018
Darrah's reply helped fans to understand why BioWare had decided to ditch such a fan favorite feature of its past franchises for its next blockbuster game. The executive producer told the fan that "the game is designed around having a co-op experience in combat etc... and then having a more personal story in your hub." Essentially, BioWare's goal is to get Anthem players playing together and the implication is that having NPC squadmates would take something away from that sort of experience.
Positively though, there will still be meaningful interactions with NPCs and players will have an easy way to find a squad even if they don't have three other Anthem-playing friends. Darrah confirmed that Anthem will have an invite system as well as squad matchmaking and "there absolutely are relationships and character interactions."
That was your Cypher, Owen. An in-game character that you get to know quite well— Michael Gamble (@GambleMike) June 10, 2018
Anthem's lead producer Mike Gamble also answered a fan question, explaining that players will get to know a character named Owen "quite well" and Owen will serve as the player character's Cypher. The full role of a Cypher is currently unclear but Owen can be heard giving the players advice in the latest Anthem gameplay trailer.
Given that the abilities and strength of NPC squadmates have also been an important part of other BioWare games, the ability to put together a team of human players is all the more important. Some parts of Anthem, including the Stronghold raid missions, will require four players, indicating how tough these types of missions may be. While some may be disappointed that they will not get to enjoy that with a full cast of AI companions, the opportunity to make new friends and loyal teammates may be a worthy swap.
Anthem will be released on February 22, 2019 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.