UPDATE REVIEW: Diving into the Cataclysm Update for Bioware’s ‘Anthem’ (Xbox One)

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Cataclysm

After several months of pretty much absolute silence, BioWare and EA have finally delivered the latest update for Anthem, 1.3 or better known as Cataclysm. This update is decent. Aside from delivering an event that was supposed to have been released back in May, we also received some new goodies as well.

In the Cataclysm update we were given, new story missions, melee weapons, 3 new ranged weapons, a new currency (major and minor crystals), a new shop to spend the crystals, a new instanced zone, Echoes of Reality, new Freeplay events, and new support gear. This does sound like a lot so let’s break it down.

For those who have completed the main story in which you have to prevent The Monitor from unlocking the Anthem of Creation, we were met with a rather dull “endgame”. We had to either just roam the Freeplay map, run contracts, or grind Strongholds. After running them on the varying difficulties in hopes to collect well-rolled loot, burnout became a real problem. However, this has been slightly remedied with the update, as we have new story missions. In which you must go forth and save the world yet again, from the crutches of The Dominion.

As you play through the missions and learn new things about the world, you are given chances at unlocking the new loot. This new loot comes in the form or melee weapons. Now, melee weapons aren’t new to Anthem, it’s just that now you have access to a new melee weapon aside from the default you’ve had since you first started out on your journey.

For example, Rangers have a shock mace which allows you to “prime” targets for combos, whereas now Rangers can pick up a seismic mace which now “detonates” targets who have been afflicted with a “primer”. You also have the chance to unlock three new ranged weapons, pulse accelerator, volt caster, and blade slingers. You also can pick up some much needed stronger support gear as well. This new loot allows Freelancers to be able to have more build diversity than previously available, and it’s a much-welcomed addition. Aside from just earning the new loot, completion of missions and Echoes of Reality instance earns you crystals, both major and minor. These are then used at the seasonal shop to unlock things from melee/gear chests to cosmetic items.

Now let’s talk about the main focus of this update, The Cataclysm. This anomaly has not just opened up a portal in which you travel to beat up on the new big bad, Vara. There are also events that are going on in Freeplay too. In Freeplay these events are called, “Storm Gates”. When one opens, after a timer counts down, you are able to enter and complete the objectives within the time limit to gain some rewards.

This is similar to the main concept of Echoes of Reality. When you travel to this area, you’re given 15 minutes to complete the mission, which is to defeat Vara. However, to do that you have to encounter various puzzles, which total 7 in all. Completing them all isn’t necessary, but doing so assures you to gain the highest score possible and in turn earn yourself more crystals to be used in the seasonal shop.

Though this event can be fun, there is a very steep learning curve when approaching the puzzles, as there’s no real way to understand how to complete the puzzles unless you go through trial and error, which can be detrimental as this will burn your time, or you look up a guide. Even if you happen to look up a guide or have experience with this event, if you don’t run with a decent team or you happen to encounter randoms who decide to troll, this entire experience can become very frustrating.

Cataclysm

These issues, partnered with the fact that the enemies are stronger than outside this event, and you also have modifiers called, Inversions, that change how you have to approach your runs, it is a lot to take in. Once you either complete the event or run out of time, you will have your points added up and are given minor crystals based on your score.

You can run this event as many times as want to improve your score as to move up on the leader boards that are held for a week. Once that week ends, the leaderboard is reset and a new instance is created. Being that I’ve not gotten a good enough score in this event, I’m not sure what’s given to the top players when the instance is reset.

Though a lot has transpired over the course of this update being put out. I’m glad it made it out of the abyss and into the game, I am also saddened to hear that Anthem lost their Lead Developer, Ben Irvo, recently. I really hope this doesn’t jeopardize future content releases.

All in all, this Cataclysm update, though embarrassingly late, is quite solid. It has helped to rekindle my interest in Anthem and being that I’m still hunting for Masterwork and Legendary gear pieces for my Ranger, I see myself putting in more time. I do hope that they continue to support Anthem as with additions like Cataclysm, I can see this game redeeming a little bit of respect, but not much.

Anthem's Cataclysm
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    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL; DR

All in all, this update, though embarrassingly late, is quite solid. It has helped to rekindle my interest in Anthem and being that I’m still hunting for Masterwork and Legendary gear pieces for my Ranger, I see myself putting in more time.