Interceptor Mike and The Temple of Scar

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Colossus saves team from defeat in The Temple of Scar

Lead Producers Mike Gamble, Ben Irving, and Jon Warner teamed up on December 20th to show the community a new Stronghold: The Temple of Scar. As promised, we were shown the gameplay from the Interceptor’s point of view, piloted by Mike Gamble himself. Through “secret BioWare hacks,” they were a three-man squad, where as the final product will require four players to tackle a Stronghold. The trio began, standing inside the mouth a cave that led into a long tunnel system, the north-eastern wall covered in some ritualistic drawings.

Loadouts

Jon, piloting the Storm, described his loadout to be primarily for priming targets for combos. He stated that he had Ice attacks on both gear slots for building up status effects on enemies.

“Ninja” Mike in his Interceptor stated, “My primary attack is glow stick,” as he tossed a flare emote at Ben. His real build consisted of throwing glaives, poison grenades, and a gear piece that allows for the team to deal increased damage to the enemy that is marked with the ability.

Ben was in the best Javelin, the Colossus, which was built for tanking and diverting enemy fire to himself. His build contained a shock coil that allows for building up electricity on enemies at close range, and a heavy munitions fire on his right arm that allows him to bring airborne enemies to the ground. He also had a taunt ability that increased the damage that enemies took, as well as making them all fire at him.

They also explained that they were around level 20 Javelins at this point and were playing on Normal (Freelancer) difficulty.

After an agreement that there would be “no heroes” on this mission, the team ran forward into the tunnels, with Ben stating that he had never been in here before. What could go wrong?

Gameplay

For those who aren’t in the know, Strongholds are the equivalent of dungeons in Anthem. These types of activities can vary from game to game, but the basic concept is that you and your team fight through a specific set of challenges and overcome a large boss at the end. In games like Destiny or The Division, these dungeons consist of fighting through to one boss at the end. In games like World of Warcraft of Final Fantasy XIV, you have some set sub-bosses that will drop a loot chest along the way. Anthem’s Strongholds seem to follow the latter example, as we can see the party fight an enemy known as “Gatekeeper” after clearing out the first room and disabling six alarms. Once they defeated this sub-boss, a chest dropped with loot for the team. This is great news for people who like to find quick farms, as you could potentially farm a sub boss in a tough stronghold, leave, then reset the Stronghold to come back for fast loot. We also learned that Strongholds do not have specific loot tables . The way loot works is that the activity you are doing and the difficulty you are doing it at, dictates the drop rate of the loot rarity. There is a global loot table, so there is no specific stronghold or activity to farm for a specific drop.

Another mechanic that we were shown was in regards to the objective of restoring power to a generator. The team was required to gather three fuel cells and return them to the generator. However, the person carrying the fuel cell is not allowed to fly while carrying it. They can still jump, sprint, and vault ledges, but they cannot fly until they either drop the object manually (down on the d-pad), or take it to the objective.

Next, “Magic” Mike, as titled by Ben, and the team proceeded to another objective where they had to plant explosives on a gate to get past the Scars, then survive an ambush after setting the explosives. The area contained a line of mine traps as well as some verticality in the form of ramps and ledges. The entire are up to this point seemed to be built out of wood and rusted metal to form some sort of an underground shanty town.

This is also the area where Mike began to talk about how dialogue changes in subsequent playthroughs of the stronghold. Generally when a developer talks about this, it means dialogue is randomly swapped between a select set of lines. In Anthem, when you run a stronghold multiple times, they actually cut out dialogue, “…because we understand you already played it, you kinda get the story already.”

We were then shown what I believe to be the best part of the stronghold, the Sewer Path. While the rest of this stronghold had been relatively linear, the sewers of this area are large and open, with interesting locations all around. There is a lower path, where the ground seems to be covered in water that is actually acid and will hurt players who stand in it. Mike demonstrated this very well, twice. There are also higher paths and platforms where the Scars attack from with snipers and turrets, as well as some flame attacks that could keep players grounded into the acidic floor if they are not careful.

The sewers open into a large, cylindrical shaft, littered with wooden platforms and bridges leading to a giant metal cylinder in the center of the hollowed out land. While the objective here is to destroy turrets, the design of the area plays well into the movement that BioWare seems to want players to experiment with.

We were able catch a new UI element that appears situationally, and that is the Evade prompt. It seemed to appear on Mike’s screen when he was being targeted by a turret. It’s safe to assume this also appears when you are targeted by a sniper’s laser before it fires.

Unfortunately at the end of this area is where the stopped playing, leaving players with an unknown boss and a pretty good idea of what to expect from these repeatable endgame activities. We were shown a snippet of the end of expedition screen, where all players are shown with their respective earned medals, experience (XP) earned, and “Alliance” XP and tier. This screen is followed by a list of loot that was obtained from the mission, where you can scrap it immediately if you don’t wish to keep it. All other items are assumed to be returned to your vault where you can access them later.

We know there is a clan system in Anthem called “Alliances”, and that there are tiers to the alliances, but beyond that, we don’t know much else about them.

 Gatekeeper Sub-boss blocks the team’s progression. Gatekeeper Sub-boss blocks the team’s progression.

 The Interceptor goes to work with its Ultimate ability. The Interceptor goes to work with its Ultimate ability.

 Evade prompt when targeted by a turret. Evade prompt when targeted by a turret.

 Ben deals with a Scar sniper….with explosions. Ben deals with a Scar sniper….with explosions.

 The Freelancers get ready to infiltrate the Scar Nest. The Freelancers get ready to infiltrate the Scar Nest.

 End of Expedition Screen teasing Alliances. End of Expedition Screen teasing Alliances.

 Loot screen where you can salvage items. Loot screen where you can salvage items.

Lore

There were several hints to lore while we were introduced to the Stronghold. One quick bit that Mike threw out was that this took place about three quarters of the way through the critical path of the game. Therefore, we know we are generally established Freelancers at this point.

The primary objective the team had to complete was, “Infiltrate the Scar Nest and Locale Scelos.” For those who paid attention to the dialogue during the stream, you can see Faye and Sev speaking to you throughout the activity. We know Faye is one of our Cyphers, but this is our first introduction, that I know of, to Sev.

With the team progressing we can figure out a few things about our new friend. Faye states, “Of course. Corvus doesn’t do simple missions.” Our Freelancer also states, “Hope you weren’t expecting a covert mission,” to which Sev replies, “I know who I hired.” We know from the “Meet the Factions” article on the Anthem website, that the Corvus, “… prefer to contract out any of their messier tasks to third-parties, like the Freelancers.” It also helps that in the later part of the stronghold while the Freelancers are walking through strung up Lancer Javelin suits, he states that their pilots are dead. When Faye asks how he knows, he replies, “Corvus, remember?” So it’s safe to say Sev is one of our Corvus contacts back in Tarsis.

Now we aren’t able to ascertain who Scelos is, but we know a few things about the individual. Sev states that, “There are records of a Shaper Construct in this area,” and, “Just a hunch, but I think Scelos might use it to cause a Cataclysm.” We can assume based on this statement that Scelos is not an ally. It could be a known Scar leader, which would be odd from what we know of the Scar or a Dominion ally to the Scar that we haven’t heard of yet. There are a few possibilities outside of those realms, but it would require some more knowledge of factions.

 Sev fills us in with some information about Scelos. Sev fills us in with some information about Scelos.

 Faye confirms this is a Corvus mission. Faye confirms this is a Corvus mission.

Q&A

As always, the Q&A rests here for all questions asked during the stream. I’ve edited them slightly for clarity.

  1. What are some your favorite combos to do?
    Jon
    : “One of my faves is when you have the legendary freeze going on and you pull off a combo and it spreads out, you can actually chain that to a lot of different enemies and kill whole mobs if you’re skillful.”

    Ben then again explained the combo system that was covered in the previous stream where each individual Javelin has their own combo effect.

    Ranger: High damage to a single target.

    Colossus: Area of Effect (AoE) explosion damage.

    Storm: Spreads the element to surrounding enemies.

    Interceptor: Gains an aura of the effect, allowing them to spread it to other enemies by being in close proximity to them.

    While it may be great to pull off any combo, Ben states it could come down to who is in the best suited position to pull of the combo in the given situation.

  2. Is it possible to complete a stronghold with four of the same Javelin?
    Mike
    : “Absolutely!”
    Jon: “When you have four interceptors take on the Temple of Scar, you’re gonna want to upload that video, cause that is some bragging rights right there.”

  3. Can you customize Legion of Dawn skins?
    Mike
    : “We’re TBD on that. We want them to be. We just want to make sure that we set them up right so that even if you customize them, they still look awesome. So we’ll talk about that as we really get close to ship. For now, expect the Legion of Dawn skins to look awesome like this.”
    Ben: “You can do the color stuff.”
    Mike: “The color stuff yes. Anymore than that we’re kinda holding out on.”

  4. Are there any loot drops that only come out of strongholds?
    Ben
    : “No. So the way the loot system works is that there are loot tables, and then the harder the content you do, the higher chance you have of getting better loot. So if you do a Stronghold on a really hard difficulty, you’ll be getting really rare, epic, even masterwork or legendary gear, as opposed to if you were doing freeplay on easy, you’re more likely to get the kind of lower rarity gear.”

  5. Will there be VoIP in game?
    Yes. Both push to talk and always on.

  6. Will there be dedicated servers? Also, I am in North America, will I be able to play with my friends in the EU?
    Jon
    : “Yes and yes. One of the cool things about having every session hosted on a dedicated server is that we’re able to sync up the day and night cycles, the weather, world events, so it feels like we’re all living in the same world. You’re both going to experience the same things in the game.”

  7. If players want to run Strongholds more than once, is there something that keeps them coming back?
    Ben
    : “I think that was answered with the loot question.”
    Jon: “It’s the best way to chase masterwork and legendary weapons, is by running Strongholds, cranking up the difficulty until you’re running it at Grandmaster 3.”
    Mike: “For those of you who haven’t followed the game very closely, we have six difficulties in total. Three of them are open during the crit path, easy, normal, and hard, and then we have three more difficulties, which are unlocked at level 30 called grandmaster 1, 2, and 3. That is also scalable on our side so we can continue to do things all the time.”
    Ben: “We can add more, yeah.”

  8. Can you explain the medal system?
    Ben
    : “Feats on any mission or stronghold are things you can achieve to earn bonus XP at the end of the expedition. So you might have one that says “Trigger five combos in this stronghold,” and you would get extra experience at the end, or you may have one that says, “Get 10 kills with weapons” and so on.”
    Jon: “And they’re coded bronze, silver, and gold.”
    Mike: “And some of the challenges we have in the game are tied to certain crafting things. We’ll talk more about that stuff later.”
    Jon: “Have we mentioned that the cool thing about playing as a group is that we all get to share in that big XP pool?”
    Ben: “You should explain that.I think that needs a little bit of explanation.”
    Jon: “We love it when people are playing together. The game really plays well when you’re in a squad, and when you’re playing as a squad you actually all share medals and therefore you share XP. So playing together is going to be a huge advantage for you.”

  9. Is there matchmaking for Stronghold or do we need to form up as a group?
    Mike
    : “Yes there is matchmaking for Strongholds. It works like matchmaking for the rest of the game. You can matchmake into an existing group, you can have your friends as part of the existing squad, you can invite your friends, but yes you totally matchmake in if you don’t have any friends.”
    Jon: “You can make new friends!”
    Mike: “If you’re so inclined.”

  10. What is that glowstick ability?
    Mike
    : “It’s a highly overpowered ability that we will likely be removing.”
    “Real Answer” Mike: “It’s an emote.”
    Jon: “You can actually use it to communicate something like, ‘Hey, look over here.’”

  11. Will there be raids?
    Ben
    : “We can answer this question kinda. I think we believe that every game needs aspirational content. So the idea that there’s a lot of activities to do in the game and it feels meaningful to have this long-tailed chase towards something. Either something is challenging or something that is rewarding or that gives you better stuff. So at launch we have a lot of amazing aspirational stuff to do. As you go through the crit path and get towards max level, you start getting a better idea of what Javelin and role you want to play. Then you start chasing this loot and getting really powerful. Then as you enter the Elder game, you have Strongholds and Legendary Contracts. As you’re doing these harder difficulties, you’re building these loadouts and creating these synergies and playstyles, trying to work out how to take on the hardest challenges by yourself or amongst a group of four players. Then as we enter the live service,we plan to add more and more stuff. We have some really exciting aspirational stuff for the live service that we’re not  talking about yet, that will come pretty soon after launch that everything you do will get you ready for the things that come later. We’ll be talking about that next year.”
    Jon: “It’s cool and it’s different. We don’t call them raids, but it fills that aspirational content.”
    Mike: “We want to talk about it, we just can’t. Best of all it’s tied into the very fabric of the game and the chaotic world, so we’re really excited about it.”

  12. Interceptor Unlimited Melee?
    Mike
    : “That is one I wanted to hit. When you have your ultimate ability, melee is unlimited until the ability ends. In normal play, it doesn’t seem like it is. Ben do you have the deets?”
    Ben: “Yeah, so we’ve changed it a little bit since this build. So we made Interceptor melee, greatest thing of all time, and it was a little too great, so there are some nuances with it. During the combo, there is a little bit of a cooldown, we’ve reduced the damage a little bit because it was a bit crazy, but on smaller enemies you use the interceptor melee ability to stun lock them. You can use that to create a situation for your friends to take advantage of. That won’t work against a Scar heavy or something more meaningful. The primary uses will be do you need to lock something up for a friend? Are you trying to trigger a combo? Weaving those two things and using your weapons and gear in between is kind of where we want that dance to be.”

  13. Where can I find out more information about the game in general?
    Official Anthem Site
    Michael Gamble’s Twitter
    Ben Irving’s Twitter
    Jon Warner’s Twitter

Demo Information

VIP Demo: January 25th – 27th
Available to: Pre-orders, Origin Access subscribers, EA Access subscribers on Xbox. You will also receive codes to give to friends.

Open Demo: February 1st – 3rd
Available to: Everyone!

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