Freelancers just getting their bearings in BioWare’s Anthem may find the quickest way to spruce up their knowledge is to take a look at a beginner’s guide. While it’s a more action-oriented game than the studio’s previous titles, it is still a role-playing experience with tons of customization options and play-styles. It can be downright overwhelming to decide which Javelin class to start with, which missions to complete, and how to choose the best gear for your character. Once you understand a few basics, however, you can quickly become a powerful Freelancer and start helping the people of Fort Tarsis deal with nearby threats. Here is what you need to know when starting Anthem.
The Javelin is a powered exo-suit that is the source of a Freelancer’s special abilities, providing them with the ability to fly, conjure powerful spells, and launch enormous rocket salvos at groups of enemies. You don’t pick a character class in Anthem, with the Javelins instead filling this role, and you’re free to swap them out as you see fit – provided that you’ve unlocked them all. After completing the tutorial, you’ll have the chance to unlock one Javelin of your choice. They become available at the following levels:
You can easily make it through all of Anthem only using one or two Javelins, but keep in mind that you’ll likely only be around level 16 or 17 by the time you complete the campaign. This means that you should make your decision carefully.
All Javelins can equip firearms, and they all include two offensive abilities, a support ability, and an Ultimate ability. These operate on recharging timers, with the Ultimate ability taking much longer than the others to recharge.
The Ranger is the standard, balanced Javelin choice, with well-rounded offensive and defensive capabilities. It doesn’t excel in any one area, which can make it somewhat ineffective when playing with a squad, but the class can effectively fill most roles and is great for solo missions. Its abilities include:
- Grenades – Similar to the grenades in other third-person shooters, the Ranger’s grenades can be thrown at enemies to cause damage or other status effects, such as freezing or fire damage, and certain grenade types can also stick to enemies or seek them out from the air.
- Assault Launcher: The assault launcher can be used to take out larger targets, either with missiles, pulse blasts, energy beams, or darts. When facing off against Titans or other enemies with large health pools, it can quickly take out a chunk of their life bar.
- Support Gear: Your support choices as the Ranger are either the “Bulwark Point” or the “Muster Point.” The former creates a bubble to stop incoming enemies, while the latter’s bubble increases weapon damage for those inside.
- Multi-Target Missile Battery: If you’ve seen pre-release videos, you’ve likely seen this ability in action. The Ranger’s Ultimate ability sends a huge salvo of missiles that can lock onto several targets. It’s best used when you have a large group of weaker enemies moving toward you.
- Shock Mace: When you need to attack an enemy up close, the electrified shock mace can deliver damage without making use of your abilities’ cooldowns. As with most melee moves, it’s best used after an enemy is frozen or unable to attack back.
The Interceptor is the fastest of the Javelin classes and specializes in close-range combat. It can deal immense damage to enemies, and also has the option to use certain projectile abilities, as well as support moves that can increase your squad-mates’ damage output. This comes at the cost of durability, but it has an extremely powerful dodge maneuver that allows it to get out of the way of most attacks before they land. Its abilities include:
- Assault Systems: The Assault Systems for the Javelin include a mix of thrown weapons and special abilities. Available systems include the “Venom Bomb,” which covers targets in acid, as well as the “Cryo Glaive,” which can lock onto two targets and freeze them. The “Spark Dash” ability is also tied to this slot, and gives Interceptors a dashing move that leaves electricity in its wake.
- Strike Systems: The similarly-named Strike Systems focus primarily on doing direct damage, including several powerful melee moves. Among other attacks is the “Wraith Strike” which lets you send out a projection to fight for you, as well as the area-of-effect move “Venom Spray.”
- Support Systems: Both of the Interceptor’s Support Systems directly affect the entire squad. “Rally Cry” clears any status effects, such as burning or acid, while “Target Beacon” increases all allies’ damage against a particular enemy.
- Assassin’s Blades: With Assassin’s Blades, the Interceptor monetarily turns into a walking death machine, capable of carving through enemies with melee attacks. Once hit, each enemy will continue taking damage for 10 more seconds.
The polar opposite of the Interceptor, the Colossus is as close to a “tank” class as any Javelin in Anthem. Capable of taking more hits than the other classes but at the cost of maneuverability, the Colossus is excellent for crowd control, with a powerful melee ability and attacks with area-of-effect coverage. Its Ultimate ability is also very impressive, if a tad imprecise, and it can use special heavy-type weapons unavailable to its peers. Its abilities include:
- Heavy Assault Launcher: Most Heavy Assault Launcher abilities are aimed at taking out a group of enemies directly in front of the Colossus. These include the shotgun-like “Flak Cannon” and the “Flame Thrower,” but the “Railgun” can deal impressive damage at slightly longer distances. If you’re being surrounded, the Heavy Assault Launcher is likely your last resort for escape.
- Ordnance Launcher: The Ordnance Launcher, meanwhile, is great for taking out large groups of weaker enemies from a distance. Available gear for this slot includes the “High Explosive Mortar,” which damages all enemies caught in its blast, as well as the “Firewall Mortar,” which ditches rockets for flame.
- Support Gear: The Colossus’ two Support Gear abilities are designed to protect your teammates from danger, and serve little purpose in solo play. The first, “Battle Cry” is essentially a “taunt” move, and makes enemies comes after you while lowering their resistances. “Shield Pulse” offers increased damage resistances for your allies.
- Heavy Smash: A massive melee attack, the Colossus smashes down into the ground and damages anything within the attack’s radius. It’s capable of devastating weaker enemies and thinning groups before your teammates finish them off.
- Siege Cannon: The clumsy but extremely powerful “Siege Cannon” delivers a massive blast of energy that ends in an explosion, and with multiple shots during each use, it is excellent for dealing damage to bosses or taking out multiple clusters of targets.
Arguably the best Javelin class in Anthem at the moment, the Storm is essentially the game’s version of a superhero – you even have a cape. As the Storm, you can call down literal lightning bolts from the sky, deliver powerful blasts of frost or flame, and create elemental explosions large enough to end a battle in seconds. As with the Interceptor, you can’t take very much damage on your own, but you can often kill your enemies before they have a chance to do much damage. Its abilities include:
- Blast Seals: Blast Seals are your crowd control abilities, each offering a different elemental attack for use over a small area. “Lightning Strike” delivers a bolt of electricity from above, while “Ice Storm” creates icy explosions that can freeze enemies. They are best used when groups of enemies are close to each other and can be followed up with a melee attack to deal combo damage.
- Focus Seals: Focus Seals deal large amounts of damage to a smaller number of targets. “Glacial Spear” and “Arc Burst” both affect targets directly in front of the Storm user, while “Shock Burst” and “Burning Orb” give you more choice over where and how you hit your targets. When used in conjunction with Blast Seals, they can quickly decimate enemies.
- Support Seals: The Storm can choose between two different Support Seals that offer very different benefits. The “Wind Wall” can be placed almost anywhere and blocks enemy shots, while “Quickening Field” creates a space with reduced cooldown on the ability for all squad-mates.
- Elemental Storm: The Storm’s Ultimate ability is “Elemental Storm,” which gives you three powerful explosions of elemental energy. They’re ideal for taking out groups of enemies, but are still effective against boss targets, such as Titans, especially if you land all three hits.
Weapons and Gear
As with a typical online role-playing game, Anthem features loot in the form of gear, split into different types to indicate their power and rarity. The gear will vary slightly in name depending on the Javelin you selected – you will only get Focus Seals as the Storm, for instance – but it effectively fills the same few slots.
If you’re using an Xbox controller, one piece of gear will be tied to LB, another will be tied to RB, and a third will be tied to LB and RB together. You’ll also be able to equip two weapons, as well as extra Components that offer passive bonuses and consumables.
Pilot level unlocks
The slots will gradually unlock as you increase your level, and as you give your Javelin gear with higher statistics, the power level and, eventually, the rarity of your Javelin will go up, as well. Below are the gear and ability unlocks associated with each pilot level:
- 2: New Javelin
- 3: Second Weapon Slot
- 4: Component Slot
- 5: Support Slot
- 6: Component Slot
- 8: New Javelin
- 10: Consumable Slot
- 12: Component Slot
- 14: Component Slot
- 16: New Javelin
- 18: Component Slot
- 20: Consumable Slot
- 23: Component Slot
- 26: Final Javelin
- 30: Consumable Slot and Grandmaster difficulty modes
Weapons and Gear are color-coded according to its rarity:
- White: Common
- Green: Uncommon
- Blue: Rare
- Epic: Purple
- Masterwork: Orange
- Legendary: Yellow
You likely won’t encounter any gear above Rare during your first playthrough of Anthem, as Epic gear will not begin dropping until you are level 20. After level 30, you can try Grandmaster missions to receive Masterwork or Legendary items – you can also receive Legendary weapons as part of the “Legion of Dawn” edition.
Javelin customization and cosmetics
Unlike in other role-playing games, you cannot equip gear in Anthem immediately after receiving it. Instead, you must go to the Forge in Fort Tarsis, which is located just beside your Javelin used to begin missions. Here, you can equip gear across your different Javelins, save pre-set configurations, and customize the look of your Javelin.
From the Forge, select the “Appearance” tab, then pick an individual piece of gear you wish to change. The “equip” tab will show what you currently have available, and if you select the “buy” tab, you’ll be given the option to spend your Coins – and sometimes Shards –to unlock additional armor or animations. These items are purely cosmetic, and Coins are awarded through completing activities such as Challenges in normal play.
Shards are Anthem’s premium currency, and if you open the main menu and head to the store, you’ll see the option to purchase them with real money. However, any item available to purchase for Shards is also acquirable with Coins, instead. You can also complete the game’s weekly Path to Glory challenge to unlock Shards.
Faction loyalty and contracts
There are three different Factions in Anthem – the Freelancers, the Sentinels, and the Arcanists — and you can earn rewards through all three of them by completing challenges. These rewards are primarily Component Blueprints, allowing you to craft your own passive ability boosts using materials.
Talking to certain characters and collecting items you discover in the open world will also give you reputation boosts. For the Freelancers, for instance, these characters include Rythe, Yarrow, and Faye – if someone has a bubble above their head or you find the dialogue bubble on the map, go talk to them! World events like There Be Giants are Anthem’s version of the “public events” in Destiny 2, will also give you reputation, as will completing the main story and missions given to you by those at Fort Tarsis.
If you need to know your exact progress for a specific faction, open the game’s menu and select the “challenges” tab. Scroll down to “factions” and you’ll see your current progress for all three factions as well as the challenges you’ve completed.
Contracts are also available for those looking to further increase their level or earn better loot. They can be identified by banner symbols, either on the map or on top of posters scattered throughout Fort Tarsis. These missions are short, but can sometimes open up access to additional missions that give better rewards. Matthias will offer Arcanist reputation for completing his missions, while Sentinel Brin will offer Sentinel Reputation and Yarrow will offer Freelancer reputation.