Yesterday, BioWare launched another update for Anthem, the second after the "Day One" patch that was released last Wednesday. The patch brought Anthem to version 1.0.2.01 and released with a small set of noted fixes, including one for the game's final mission.
Post-patch, some players noted that it felt like the drop rate of loot in missions and Strongholds had been lowered. It was a contentious subject on the Anthem subreddit and forums, given players only had access to anecdotal data: some reported lower loot drop rates, while others felt the drop rate was the same. Without confirmation from BioWare and nothing on the patch notes, there was no real way to put an end to the argument.
Today, Anthem lead producer Ben Irving confirmed that the loot drop rates had indeed changed.
"In our Friday changes, one of the edits we made had the side effect of increasing certain drop chances. This was not intended. Once we identified the problem we changed it back to how it was before. That was about 11 hours later. Took a little time for that message to make it around internally and to make sure we understood what happened and how to avoid it going forward. It’s never our intent to make changes without being transparent, so we wanted to come in here to respond and clarify," said Irving on Reddit.
So, BioWare released one patch on Friday, only to notice the increased drop rates, and they followed with a fix on Saturday. The problem is the fix came with notes similar to the Friday patch, meaning there was no indication of the rollback change. Hence players calling the change a "stealth nerf".
Anthem's current loot system has dropped weapons receiving a random set of inscriptions, which are additional bonus effects. The problem is the inscriptions are pulled from a pool completely at random, so you can end up with useless inscriptions, like bonus elemental damage on a weapon that does no elemental damage. This means part of Anthem is collecting a lot of loot, because you may receive a Masterwork or Legendary level item with the wrong inscriptions; without a reroll system your only option to hope the same item drops again with better inscriptions. (You can unlock crafting for Masterworks, but the materials needed aren't trivial to collect. There's no Legendary crafting at the moment.) With the increased loot drop chance, Anthem felt a bit like Diablo: you collect a ton of loot and sift through it for the stuff you want.
Since the confirmation, players have noted that they preferred the increased drop rate. Some say if the loot system is going to continue to give bad inscriptions on high-level weapons, then the loot drop rate should be higher to compensate. It also doesn't help that players are running Grandmaster-level content, and are still seeing Common, Uncommon, and Rare loot drop, which is useless at that level.
"The buffed drop rates made it fun, we had a blast filling up our inventory and find one or maybe two upgrades out of 6+ from a run out in the open world. We did the same runs yesterday and just scrapped poorly-rolled Masterworks for 3 hours with no upgrades. It wasn't fun, it felt like I was wasting my time. If you are going to have a slot machine loot system, then let me pull the lever a lot more," wrote Reddit user RottenOyster.
Anthem producer Darrin McPherson confirmed on Twitter that the inscription system for Masterworks and Legendary items will be improved in the future.
Yo Luke. We hear you and we making changes to how inscriptions are distributed. 1. Masterwork, & Legendary items are MUCH more likely to get rolls that improve them. This is happening very soon. 2. Inscriptions on items are more tailored to that item type. Ty for the feedback!— Darrin McPherson (@TaliskerDev) February 23, 2019
It's another small misstep for Anthem around launch. It does help that BioWare continues to be transparent about issues and fixes for Anthem, though the lack on notation for the smaller Saturday patch isn't the best look. Over in our review, I found Anthem to be disappointing game, which was a shame since BioWare had other competitors to look at over the game's long development period. With the release of the game's roadmap and BioWare's commitment to fixes, perhaps Anthem can get back on track.