Anthem apparently won't follow Destiny's expansion model and carve up story content and fracture the playerbase: future story DLC will be free. Plus BioWare touches upon the game's post-story content.
As a live service game it only makes sense that Anthem won't have a season pass. Post-launch content will be funded by cosmetic-only microtransactions--lootboxes won't be in Anthem--rather than paid macrotransactions (expansions, passes, etc) and will include various endgame activities called Elder Content. Anthem's Elder Content umbrella enfolds numerous things to do when players finish the story, such as Strongholds, a high-level 4-player event that doles out strong gear, as well as rotating seasonal content to keep users engaged.
In a PAX West 2018 panel BioWare devs touched on Anthem's endgame:
"[Anthem] is a game that's designed to be played for a long time. After you finish the main story there will still be missions to do with agents and other stuff available from a storytelling perspective," Anthem executive producer Mark Darrah said during the panel.
"But there'll also be Elder Content. Strongholds are something we've already shown, which is Elder Content which you run in order to get better loot, better equipment, and boost your Javelins. We'll be talking about some other Elder Content in the future, which will be more seasonally-based where you'll play for a season with more specific higher-level rewards.
"So yes, it's definitely designed to have longer play after you finish consuming the story."
Strongholds won't have an 8-man team like Destiny's raids, but they will reward players with some higher-end gear. It's likely that Strongholds will see a team of four Javelins take on titanic monstrosities as seen in various screenshots. Only higher-level players will be able to take them on, though:
"Strongholds are four players, and they will give certain things specially but there's going to be other ways to get certain gear," Anthem producer Mike Gamble said.
BioWare's lead level designer Victor Krengel also talks about Contracts, or mini-missions that can be done after (or during) the story to build agent relationships and earn currency and gear.
"We've created a system called Contracts. So if you want to continue spending more time with your agent after the bespoke story stuff is over, you can load into Contracts with them and they will lead you on quasi-systemic missions out in the world. There are many, many ways those can play out. It's kind of like a 'story lite' version of quests," Krengel said.
The studio says that agent relationships are key to any Freelancer's story, and that how you interact with them in dialog choices will not only affect their lives, but the hub world of Fort Tarsis itself.
Last but certainly not least, the developers confirm that Anthem's story DLC will be free and highlight how microtransactions will essentially pay for post-launch content.
"So there's no random lootboxes. There will be some cosmetic stuff you can pay for. [This content] will always be earnable. So we might give you the opportunity short circuit out of sweat currency--you'll be able to earn sweat currency to buy cosmetics--but we will also let you spend money on those," Darrah continued in the panel.
"For storytelling, we don't want to divide up the audience. We want people to be able to experience the same story at the same time. So none of [the story] will be locked behind any kind of paywall."
In other news, it appears BioWare has invested so strongly into Anthem that future Mass Effect and Dragon Age games could use a similar online model.
The thought process here is to continually evolve storytelling on-the-fly via the streamlined and tighter infrastructure live games offer; developers can now check player data and forge stories accordingly versus blindly releasing DLC that's static and locked into place. This will allow a more living, breathing feel to each games' hubs and give BioWare the opportunity to continually evolve in-game worlds.
All in all Anthem appears to have all the necessary trimmings of a live service game and seems to incorporate BioWare's penchant for strong storytelling, but we won't be totally sure until we get to try it for ourselves.
Anthem releases on February 22, 2019 for PS4, Xbox One and PC.
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