Anthem BioWare E3 2017
Four players ready to explore the world of Anthem. EA

Five long years after the its last outing, Mass Effect returned in March with what was intended to be the start of a new era for the character-driven space opera. Instead, despite its merits, Mass Effect Andromeda failed.

A troubled development played its part, but the prevailing sense of events now is that Mass Effect never really needed to return. It's clearly time to move on, and at EA Play, ahead of E3 2017 next week, BioWare made clear that it wants to.

Anthem debuted on Saturday night with a short teaser before another, more detailed appearance and gameplay reveal at Microsoft's conference on Sunday.

Creative director Jon Warner walked players through a demo in which two players - known as freelancers in the game - explored a lush alien environment while on one of the game's many missions.

Each freelancer will have a variety of exo-suits called Javelins, which players will be able to customise in appearance and function. These suits will support various play-styles, with two shown off in the video: the all-round Ranger and tank-like Colossus.

"The world of Anthem is hostile, and threats can come from any direction," Warner said, adding that there will be weather and story events for players to take on and adapt to. At the end of the demo, we see a team of four players jetpack off into a violent storm.

Given they're both sci-fi RPGs, BioWare was careful to differentiate Anthem from Mass Effect, emphasising the former's co-operative, Destiny-inspired play over story and character which may have been too reminiscent of the story-focused Mass Effect series.

Not a lot actually happened in the gameplay demo for Anthem, and in terms of its visual design and how it appears to play it wasn't a particularly strong debut. Without a doubt the best part was when the freelancer seamlessly travelled from above ground to underwater

It looked nice, it's from BioWare. That's reason enough to be excited for a lot of people, and that's an entirely just reaction. Given it's being developed by BioWare's lead team there's every reason to believe Anthem will live up to any hype, but the reveal isn't exactly going to be remembered as a classic E3 moment.

The main purpose of EA and BioWare announcing the game now is the show off what's next for BioWare. Anthem represents a move for both developer and publisher into the world of games as services, something also seen in EA's decision to not sell future maps and characters for Star Wars Battlefront 2.

For BioWare it's a start of a new era that likely means the end of Mass Effect for now, and after Andromeda performed worse than expected, now was the right time to look to the future.

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