After a long silence surrounding the critical and financial flop that was Anthem, the game’s 2.0 overhaul has officially been canceled, but BioWare has vowed to continue supporting the base game. The overhaul, also known as, Anthem NEXT, was in-progress months after the game first released in February 2019. The outrage expressed by players at the lack of endgame content, polished networking, and a satisfying loot shooter gameplay loop at launch prompted publisher EA to have developer skeleton crew take another stab at the game
However, after Anthem NEXT’s announcement, the developer was tightlipped regarding its progress, with the team devoted to it only making a tiny corner of the studio. Updates on the overhaul’s progress came every few months, with some announcements being more substantive than others. In October 2020, after three months of silence, BioWare released some behind-the-scenes information surrounding Anthem 2.0, but nothing substantial has been revealed since, until now.
Capitalizing on EA’s promise to decide Anthem NEXT’s fate soon, BioWare has announced that the overhaul has officially been canceled. The developer made the announcement “in the spirit of transparency and closure,” making sure to add it will continue to support the game’s servers. Primarily, the team cites the COVID-19 pandemic and the new work-from-home environment making progress on the overhaul too difficult, resulting in the cancellation. Moving forward, BioWare wants to “laser focus” on the upcoming Dragon Age and Mass Effect installments while continuing to provide updates for its MMORPG, Star Wars: The Old Republic.
The decision to cancel future updates Anthem should come as no surprise to anyone who’s followed the story so far. EA has a proven track record of canceling and abandoning games, just as it does shutting down promising studios. If not for the popularity surrounding the Dragon Age and Mass Effect franchises (as well as the lucrative microtransactions like Cartel Coins in Star Wars: The Old Republic), it is not unreasonable to believe EA would have shut BioWare down long ago, and that possibility is an ever-present boogeyman EA keeps in its closet.
As soon as BioWare announced it was working on an Anthem overhaul, there was little reason to expect anything besides its eventual cancellation. The tiny size of the team dedicated to the update alone should have been an indication that it was not being taken too seriously at EA and BioWare. Even without the understandable difficulties of COVID-era development, Anthem NEXT coming to fruition and being a success was a dubious proposition at best. The cancellation is disappointing, to be sure, but not a shocking one.
Anthem is available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.