Anthem has clearly been one of the most anticipated games of 2019, yet there has always been an undercurrent of negativity surrounding it. As Bioware’s first new IP in awhile, and marking a major shift from the traditional RPG developer, the loot shooter has represented a lot of things to a lot of people. As the game nears its final and global release, many players have gotten into the game early, resulting in reviews from both critics and users.
Many of these have been rather poor, docking the game for its bad pacing and story, along with gameplay design choices that seem to hinder the experience overall. After a major patch fixed some of these issues though, the reviews have been called out by Xbox VP Mike Ybaraa, referring to them as “whining” and “embarrassing”.
Linking to a PC Gamer article that breaks down how the latest update fixes one of the biggest complaints with Anthem, Ybarra says “This was actually very easy to do. Amazed at the whining. One reviewer, not the below (meaning not PC Gamer), reviewed the game yet in the review cited that he didn’t even know how to do a combo. Embarrassing to review with such a lack of knowledge.”
Later on Ybarra is asked what his own review of Anthem is. His response has drawn criticism from fans as well as game journalists who have also called out his original tweet. He says “I don’t do “reviews” because everyone enjoys different things. I’d suggest “modern reviews” should be watching streamers play a game, doing the demo, listening to what your gaming friends think – and if it seems like something you will enjoy then great.”
The criticism of Ybarra has come from many angles. Waypoint’s Patrick Klepek summed up his thoughts by saying “What’s specifically infuriating about this tweet is the chief criticism—not knowing how to do a combo in Anthem—isn’t explained by Anthem itself, unless you dive into a hidden tutorial menu. I learned about combos after wondering WTF an “aura combo” was in an item description.”
Others, such as VG247’s Kirk McKeand took issue with Ybara’s claim that streamers offer a more objective view of games. “Yeah, you should watch those sponsored streams for your impartial look at upcoming games,” he tweeted. Giant Bomb’s Jeff Gerstmann felt that Ybarra’s original tweet showed poor judgement as well, saying “Nice to see Xbox getting into the “lul whiners get gud” market.”
Anthem’s reviews have been far from the glowing praise heaped on previous Bioware titles. The issues cited have been quite varied, and while many can be fixed with patches, as some seem to have, that doesn’t change the fact that it was released to a wide audience with these issues in place. As games shift to a longer update schedule, with many anticipating a bare bones initial release that is filled with fixes and content later on, it’s tougher to get a full understanding of when to release a review, and how seriously issues should be called out. Ybarra seems to feel that longer should have been given to Anthem, but reviewers apparently disagree.