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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
Weapons and Gear are color-coded according to its rarity:
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.