I’ve played a lot of Destiny 2. It feels great to play. The guns are snappy. Running and jumping around the environments is smooth. It is an incredibly well-made game—except the story. Both on a macro and micro level, the writing in Destiny 2 is often half-baked, bordering on nonsensical. Or worse, cheesy. A cardinal sin for a game that takes its space opera world-building so seriously.

So if you asked me, “What does a game need to do to beat Destiny?” Story is the key. And when you tell me BioWare, long one of the most respected studios when it comes to story, is making a Destiny-type game? I think, “maybe they have a shot.”

But I wish they’d focused on those strengths a bit more when crafting an E3 demo.

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anthem 3 Bioware

Here’s the thing: Anthem ($60 preorder on Amazon) plays great. We were forced to use an Xbox One controller for our demo, even though we were running at 4K on a PC, with a mouse and keyboard sitting mere inches away. Frustrating.

Even on a gamepad though, Anthem is a blast. The mission we played is the same one EA showed off during its EA Play event earlier this week, a four-person co-op adventure that took us past gleaming waterfalls, through a bandit camp, underwater, and finally into the lair of an enormous alien spider.

None of it is exactly “unique.” I mean, giant spider boss? Come on. But Anthem is a joy to control, especially flying around in your Javelin mech suit. You’re incredibly mobile: jumping, then transitioning into flight, hovering in mid-air to fire a few shots, flying forward again, diving underwater, then exploding out of a lake on the other side and soaring upward again with water droplets falling around you.

Destiny’s movement (with maybe the exception of the Warlock’s jump) feels great. Anthem feels better.

It’s a movement scheme that seems geared toward making exploration fun, and that’s a good start. There’s obvious Mass Effect: Andromeda and Dragon Age: Inquisition DNA in Anthem, which makes sense—that’s where BioWare started with these huge open-world areas. But both those games were a chore to chart, mostly just watching your character walk across empty spaces. At least in Anthem you’re jetting down cliff faces, weaving in and out of caves, and generally having a great time just holding the left stick forward.

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