One of the slight issues with Anthem as raised in our review is that it isn't great at teaching players its mechanics. One major system that makes Anthem's combat exciting and fun is the combo system - but it's a complicated system that isn't explained in an obvious way in-game. Diving into menus can give you some assistance - and players familiar with Mass Effect multiplayer will have a good idea of what the game means by primers and detonators.
Combos can really change the way you play Anthem and open up a lot of combat opportunities, but players will need to understand combo triggers, combo primers, combo detonators and combo effects - and on this page we're going to explain all of that.
Anthem's Combo System explained: how it works
Anthem's combo system is largely what you'd likely imagine from the name: it's a method where various attacks combine together when used one after the other or at the same time, the natural effects of each combat effect combining to create a new, unique effect that might damage an enemy or exploit a weakness more than a single ability would allow you to.
Combos are vital, especially in co-operative play, as it allows the abilities of different Javelins (Anthem's classes) to combine and create special effects. This system is, in large part, descended from the way character skills could interact in the Mass Effect titles, which of course were made previously by the same team behind Anthem.
You'll know when you get a combo as the word 'COMBO' will flash on the screen in yellow alongside the damage numbers. That makes it clear, but early on you might find that you do this accidentally. To understand how they work, you'll need to understand the component parts of combos - Primers and Detonators.
Using Primers and Detonators as combo triggers in Anthem
Combos are essentially made up of two parts - and these two parts are once again quite clearly named in spite of the confusion. Primers are attacks that prime or prepare an enemy for a combo to be executed on them. Once an enemy is primed, prepared, you can trigger the combo with a Detonator, the trigger. The primer lays a fuse, the detonator lights it.
- Primers are identified in Anthem's menus by an icon of a circle inside another circle.
- Detonators are identified in Anthem's menus by an icon of a four-point star. Consider these your triggers.
Each Javelin has a few primers and a few detonators, so even in solo play ylou can prime enemies and then detonate them by strategically using your skills. The combo system is best used in co-op, however, where collaborating players work together to set up and excute the most powerful combos they can manage, working together to string together primers and detonators in quick succession.
Combo Effects for each Javelin
The effects of combos vary greatly depending on attack but also depending on which Javelin is excuting the combo by casting the detonator spell/move. Here's a quick run-down:
- Ranger Combo Effect: Bonus damage to the enemy the combo was triggered on.
- Colossus Combo Effect: Explosive damage to enemies near the point of the combo detonation.
- Interceptor Combo Effect: Gain an elemental aura based on the element of the ability used to detonate the combo. Enemies near you will receive an elemental status based on that elemental aura.
- Storm Combo Effect: The elemental status of the enemy comboed spreads to other enemies nearby.
Anthem: Javelin Primer and Detonator move list for combos
Here's every primer and detonator in Javelin - so you can plan your load-out accordingly.
Ranger Javelin Primer & Detonator moves
- Frost Grenade [Primer] - Freeze your opponent in place.
- Inferno Grenade [Primer] - Set your enemies on fire, dealing damage over time as they burn.
- Venom Darts [Primer] - Inflict acid damage with a volley of darts.
- Seeking Missile [Detonator] - Fire a projectile that seeks out a single target but also damages those nearby.
- Frag Grenade [Detonator] - Blast everything in a large area with massive damage.
- Pulse Blast [Detonator] - Blast a single target with a massive energy burst.
- Sticky Grenade [Detonator] - A grenade that latches on to an enemy before dealing massive damage.
Colossus Javelin Primer & Detonator moves
- Flamethrower [Primer] - A continuous blast of burning fire.
- Firewall Mortar [Primer] - Light the battlefield on fire with a wall of flame.
- Venom Spitter [Primer] - Unleash multiple arcing shots of acid down on your enemies.
- Shock Coil [Primer] - Hit every target around you with waves of electricity.
- High Explosive Mortar [Detonator] - Bomb anything in your way with an explosive projectile that deals heavy damage to a small area.
- Lightning Coil [Detonator] - An arc of electricity that targets a random enemy.
- Siege Artillery [Detonator] - Hit your enemies with a hefty rocket.
- Railgun [Detonator] - Hit one enemy with a destructive kinetic projectile.
Interceptor Javelin Primer & Detonator moves
- Venom Bomb [Primer] - Toss a grenade that hits all nearby enemies with acid.
- Cryo Glaive [Primer] - Lock on to up to two nearby targets and freeze them on impact.
- Detonating Strike [Primer] - A melee strike that charges an enemy with electric energy. If killed while charged, the enemy will explode, dealing damage to those nearby.
- Venom Spray [Primer] - Spray corrosive acid that damages all enemies hit.
- Tempest Strike [Detonator] - A melee strike that deals high physical damage and force.
- Spark Dash [Detonator] - Dash forward, leaving behind a damaging trail of electricity.
Storm Javelin Primer & Detonator moves
- Ice Blast [Primer] - Hurl huge chunks of ice at close range to deal massive force and freezes enemies.
- Living Flame [Primer] - A burst of flame energy that seeks out and ignites targets.
- Frost Shards [Primer] - Rapid-fire shards of ice that slowly freeze a target in place.
- Shock Burst [Primer] - A discharge of electric energy that can be bounced off of walls.
- Lightning Strike [Detonator] - A targeted strike that deals area of effect lightning damage.
- Burning Orb [Detonator] - A fire element ability that can be fired quickly in small shots or charged for a larger exploding projectile.
- Glacial Spear [Detonator] - Fire a beam of powerful ice energy.