Anthem is finally back.
BioWare’s loot-shooter debuted in February with a bug-laden launch, receiving strong sales out of the gate and a mixed critical reception. After an exposé from Kotaku detailed the game’s rocky development, developer BioWare announced that the Cataclysm event - initially planned for release in May - would be delayed indefinitely.
Apparently, indefinitely has arrived.
At the end of July, a distant storm appeared in Anthem’s sky, visible while players were out in the open world. Given the playbook that Fortnite has established, many assumed that this weather phenomenon was a clue that the Cataclysm would arrive shortly. They were right. As of August 6, the update is available for all players for free.
We've put together this handy guide on everything we think you should know about Anthem's Cataclysm event.
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Anthem Cataclysm requirements
After completing Anthem’s campaign, a lengthy checklist of in-game accomplishments appears on a wall in Fort Tarsis. 'The Challenge of Valor' has an impressively noble-sounding name, but it amounts to nothing more than an extremely long, extremely repetitive to-do list.
Thankfully, to start playing the Cataclysm update, you don’t need to engage with any of that. In fact, you don’t even need to have completed the campaign. The Cataclysm update is available, for free, to all players who have finished 'Incursion' - the sixth story mission in the base game.
Like any mission in Anthem, Cataclysm's 'Echoes of Reality' can support up to four players, but can be tackled solo, if you choose. Likewise, matchmaking works as it always has. If you want to play with friends, you can. If not, you’ll be matched up with three strangers (unless you manually specify that you want to play solo).
How Anthem's new in-game currency works
At the end of each run in 'Echoes of Reality', you’ll be rewarded with pink Crystals for your performance in the storm. These are divided into two categories, Major and Minor, and they’re your best friend in this new season of the game.
During the series of story missions that BioWare has added in the lead up to 'Echoes of Reality', your freelancer is introduced to a new shopkeeper named Herschel. Herschel's stall is situated right outside the big double doors separating the bazaar and launch pad from the rest of Fort Tarsis. This merchant sells a variety of seasonal items that can only be purchased with this new magenta currency.
You will need a combination of Major and Minor Crystals in order to buy many objects on offer at Herschel’s booth. For example, Radiant Burst, a new graphic overlay that will make your Javelin slightly resemble the Thing can only be purchased with four Major Crystals and 300 Minor Crystals.
However, if you have an abundance of Minor Crystals and are Major Crystal poor, you can purchase Major Crystals at Herschel’s store for 500 Minor Crystals. You can, likewise, exchange one Major Crystal for 500 Minor Crystals.
How to rack up Crystals
While tackling 'Echoes of Reality', points are awarded for a variety of in-game activities. Taking down enemies always grants points, but the amount of points varies from minion to minion. A lowly Dominion Shocktrooper, for example, will award a few dozen points, while a Frost Brute will bring in a few hundred.
The points gained for bringing down enemies, however, pale in comparison to the points awarded for completing an event. 'Echoes of Reality' offers three events (that are visible on the map at the beginning of each session and can be tackled in whatever order you please), before the final confrontation with Vara Brom. Each of these will grant a few thousand points upon completion.
Once you finish 'Echoes of Reality', you’ll hit a pink completion screen, where your score will be added up. Then, that score will be translated into Crystals. You’ll earn one Minor Crystal for every thousand points you put on the board.
However, you came here to kill Vara Brom. The newly minted Dominion leader awaits at the end of a run, and will be available to challenge after you’ve completed two events. Defeating her will double the points you’ve accrued so far in that run. Here’s how to cut Vara down to size.
Taking down Vara Brom
Vara has a few easily dodgeable attacks and a big weak spot, so defeating her is fairly easy if you know what to do.
However, in order to do any damage at all, you’ll need to take out the floating ball of chaos right above her head. When this spectral sphere glows yellow-orange, fire a few rounds into it. This will change its color to the normal bluish black, after which it can be safely ignored.
Now you can begin to dish out damage. The “big weak spot” we mentioned above is Vara’s head. You’ll notice this right off; shooting it will cause the normally white damage numbers to turn bright yellow. Use a weapon that can dish out a high amount of damage fairly quickly. Shotguns take too long to aim, so you’ll probably want a machine pistol or a Defender assault rifle.
Most of Vara’s attacks are fairly straightforward. She has an ice beam, a fire beam and an energy beam that she’ll fire straight at you, and a few moves she can use to rain pain down from the ceiling. Dodge these. Additionally, she’s got a few fire attacks that target the floor. One will turn the ground to magma. When this happens, Vara disables your flight so hop onto one of the many platforms situated around the arena. She’s also got a burning attack that will send hot rings across the ground like angry Skip-Its. Jump over these when they pass by (or hover for the attack’s duration - or, again, jump on one of the platforms) and you’ll do just fine.
There is one attack that may frustrate you at first. Vara can create a wall of fire, surrounding the perimeter of the arena, which she will cause to constrict toward the center of the map. If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice that a section of the ground in the middle of the arena - which Vara hovers right above - will glow blue during this attack. This spot is safe, so fly to it quickly as soon as she begins winding up for the attack. (It may look like you can fly over the top of the flaming barrier. You can’t. Don’t try it. And especially don’t try it repeatedly like we did).
For most of this battle, melee attacks won’t be very useful. The notable exception is when Vara occasionally collapses onto her knees. When this happens, feel free to go crazy with melee, but note that her head is still her weak spot, and attacks targeted here will still do best.
There. Got it? Nothing in the Cataclysm update is especially difficult. Instead, the real challenge is in racking up higher and higher scores. Follow these simple tips and you should be well on your way to the top of the leaderboard.
- Check out our full Anthem review