Back at E3 2017, Electronic Arts revealed its next major franchise, "Anthem." Showcased alongside the Xbox One X, the game shows potential and is shaping up to be one of the publisher's most promising new franchises in some time.

However, after its initial E3 debut, we're now left with more questions than answers. With little information outside of a seven-minute demo, details surrounding the game still remain somewhat vague. We've brought together everything we know so far about Anthem and what to expect ahead of its planned launch this fall.

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Story: Venturing beyond the walls

Coming from BioWare, the renowned developer of Mass Effect and Dragon Age, Anthem marks a new and ambitious direction for the studio. In the game's world, hostile monsters rule the wilderness, and humanity has taken refuge inside a walled city known as "Fort Tarsis." Freelancers, bounty hunters bearing "Javelin" exosuits, are among the few who can venture outside these walls, forming the basis for Anthem's gameplay. Diverging from the developer's heritage solidified in narrative-driven experiences, Anthem pursues an online shared-world, built with action-adventure mechanics in mind. While a story is set to intertwine with Anthem's gameplay in some way, few details have been shared up until now.

Electronic Arts has been keen to stress that Anthem is not a role-playing experience.

However, that's not to say story won't be a notable component of Anthem – quite the opposite. Even if action lays at the center of Anthem, the developer's role-playing legacy won't be completely out of the picture. Earlier this year during a conference call with investors, EA CEO Andrew Wilson purposely guaranteed that Anthem won't leave behind "the great RPG character development and story progression that BioWare is known for," even if a new, and potentially ambitious approach may be taken in the process.

Gameplay: A world of loot to explore

While Anthem's first on-stage demonstration teased class-based gameplay, loot systems and crafting, the game's publisher, Electronic Arts, has been keen to stress that Anthem is not a role-playing experience. Andrew Wilson has previously emphasized to investors that Anthem is being created as "an action-adventure, not RPG" – assumedly putting focusing development on core combat mechanics.

So, if Anthem isn't an RPG, what exactly is it? EA's claims somewhat echo statements previously made by Bungie, with their own online shared-world shooter, Destiny. Back in 2014, the studio was reluctant to pin down a specific genre for the game – even to this day, its genre is still somewhat ambiguous. After the reveal, Anthem's influence from role-playing titles is still evident. As of right now, the game appears to be shaping up as an action RPG, taking advantage of some elements seen in massively multiplayer online games (MMOs).

The vertical-slice of Anthem gameplay showed for its reveal heavily revolved around the cooperative multiplayer features of its sandbox. Featuring scripted interactions between friends as a part of the demo, communication and teamwork were portrayed as integral to the intended experience.

Shortly after its E3 debut reveal, Corey Gaspur, the previous lead designer on Anthem, assured fans that the game will also accommodate solo players. Designed with both single-player and cooperative parties in mind, players can supposedly "enjoy an amazing BioWare story and explore an incredible open world," regardless of their allies (or lack thereof).

Exactly how Anthem will handle single-player is yet to be disclosed, though this will assumedly be near-identical to cooperative play. Like similar games on the market, we can expect shared-world content to cater for both solo players and groups. It's also safe to assume Anthem will be an entirely online experience, forcing those playing solo to still connect to game servers.

As expected from a modern multiplayer title, Anthem will adopt a Games-as-a-Service (GaaS) model for providing content post-launch.

Anthem will leverage online features significantly more than any other BioWare titles.

Live services are nothing new in the modern age, allowing dozens of games to maintain healthy player bases – sometimes years after their release. By purchasing Anthem, you'll be buying into the game's service, with future updates expected after launch. Few details have been shared on how this "live service" will develop going forward – although content updates, events and larger expansions are all common with this business model.

This also feeds into Anthem's concept of a shared open world, adding an interconnected and somewhat dynamic edge to the experience. Anthem will leverage online features significantly more than any other BioWare titles, through both gameplay and post-launch support.

As briefly teased during its unveiling, collectible loot will also play a major role in Anthem's progression system. Examining footage, instances of both new weapons and suit upgrades are among the loot offerings, obtained through both randomized drops and crafting.

The weapon unlocked during the demonstration was a Level 35 "Legendary" rifle, which points toward rarity tiers and gear progression systems, as seen in RPGs. Searching for new gear, grinding through upgrades and other progression mechanics can all be expected at the heart of Anthem's gameplay loop.

Following the abysmal launch of Star Wars Battlefront II, a game also from Electronic Arts, questions still lie over Anthem's gameplay and item economy. Battlefront II was ridiculed at launch for its "pay-to-win" approach to monetization and loot boxes, leading to widespread outrage, which even extended to government intervention. With similar purchases expected to surface in Anthem, the publisher will have to tread carefully how these are implemented. Brenon Holmes, creative director at BioWare has stated there's an "ongoing discussion" in how a loot box economy may be implemented, though details aren't set in stone.

Enhancements: What to expect on Xbox One X

Electronic Arts appears to have worked closely with Microsoft to tailor its upcoming titles for Xbox One X, and Anthem is no exception.

Electronic Arts appears to have worked closely with Microsoft to tailor its upcoming titles for Xbox One X.

Used to showcase the power of the console at Microsoft's E3 2017 press conference, Anthem will run at 4K resolution on the console, with support for High Dynamic Range (HDR). With a 30 frames per second (FPS) gameplay video feed at E3, it's also safe to assume this will be the target framerate on Xbox One X.

Upon further analysis from Digital Foundry, Anthem's supposed Xbox One X reveal points toward a "checkerboarding" technique used to achieve a 4K output. Although implementation can differ between titles, the technique essentially renders a smaller percentage of the image and estimates the remaining pixels. Reducing tax on the system for a little trade-off, this allows resources to be used on other visual enhancements.

While Anthem does appear to be pushing the Xbox One X to its limit, the game is currently among the most graphically impressive titles showcased on the console. However, as a vertical slice of the full experience, it remains to be seen how this performance translates to the final product.

Preparing for Anthem

Electronic Arts is yet to commit to a release date for Anthem, aside from the period of "fall 2018." With nearly a year remaining until its expected launch, a lot could change before release. As of right now, the game isn't even available to pre-order in the United States for Xbox One, showing it's still early days for the project. However, like many big-budget games of today, expect preorders to start at $59.99, with higher tier editions containing bonus items. As always, let us know what you think of Anthem so far, in the comments section.

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Updated: January 15, 2017: Added the latest information on Anthem, ahead of its launch expected this fall.