How Much Does Quality of Life Matter in Video Games? Comparing Anthem to Tom Clancy's The Division 2
Updated: Sep 11, 2019
The simple answer is: quality of life matters a hell of a lot!
During my time playing Bioware's most recent release, Anthem, I realized how jarring it can be to be missing features in a game that should be standard.
In a RPG/Looter game what is the thing that people want? I'll tell you: good loot! How do you tell what is “good” loot? Usually it involves bigger numbers and a color scale system (i.e. common items-white, uncommon items- green, etc.). Anthem has a color system, it even has some grasp of numbers with different inscriptions giving bonuses through six component slots, two ability slots, two weapon slots, and a support slot, for a total of eleven slots.
The problem is, by the time you get to endgame—past level 30—there are just too many numbers to keep track of without whipping out an Excel sheet!
Anthem has no stats screen... Nothing to look at from a start menu at all, unless you are in the Forge (Anthem's equipment screen, before setting up missions). There is no way to total up how many bonuses you have for say +Gear Speed unless you manually add it up yourself! This is simply ridiculous... There is no way this common and simple feature should not have been in Anthem.
This is where the comparison to Tom Clancy's The Division 2 comes in. Division 2 has a full stats page, it even has a firing range in the game for you to test and make sure your stats are correct, to make the most of your gear builds. To add to this, Division 2 has a seamless experience. There is one load screen and then you're off to the races with any other loading gracefully hidden from view. In contrast, you can't do anything in Anthem without tripping over another loading screen and these are NOT graceful in any way. Another bonus is that Division 2 has a functional map! Anthem has a map, yes, but no waypoints, no way to set a path to follow, no death marker to find where you were just at. The Division 2 kills it and has ALL of those features in its map.
I played Anthem for a good 100+ hours now, and when I played The Division 2 as my next looter game, I just got mad and depressed by the shortcomings of Anthem. I just want to take all these great things from The Division 2 and mesh them with Anthem, as Anthem still has better gameplay in my opinion—that Ironman feeling is AMAZING. It's just that Division 2 feels so much more rewarding for my time in the game...
The last thing I want to cover is Apex Legends. This is an amazing battle royal game that, while I have not played myself, I have spent hours watching videos from streamers. One feature from this game that everyone talks about in reviews is its intuitive ping system. You can mark almost anything in the game, from enemies, to loot on the ground, to even specific attachments. Your character will then "call it out". This allows people to contribute and work somewhat as a team even if nobody is actually talking to each other. Being a team-based game is almost a necessity. Now, there are three buttons dedicated to emotes in Anthem... why you can't change one of them to a select wheel and have some type of marking system to signal other players is beyond me. Anthem is a co-op 4-player shooter, but unless you are in party chat with three other friends, good luck working together well with your teammates. This is even more noticeable on Anthem on PC, as they don't even have a text chat option! On PC where you have a keyboard right in front of you!
Quality of life features in games matter to the longevity and enjoyment players get out of these games. Anthem is far behind on so many of them that I'm not sure how they will catch up. I'm still having fun playing it, but when I look at games like Division 2 and Apex Legends, I can't help but feel like it had more potential.
Until next time, happy gaming!