Anthem combines third-person shooter and action role-playing game elements in a "contiguous open world" shared with up to three other players in which they take the role of a Freelancer donning fully customizable exosuits called Javelins. These suits can be customized to have various unique weapons and superhuman abilities. Two classes of Javelins were shown during Anthem's presentation at Microsoft's E3 2017 Conference: the Ranger, which is an all-around and balanced Javelin, and the Colossus, which is a larger and more heavily armored Javelin made to fill in more of a tanking role. Other Javelins include the Storm, which uses powerful technology to unleash the "rage of the hymn" while floating effortlessly in the air, and the Interceptor, which is focused on close-quarter combat and can move quickly into and out of combat.
Players can build relationships with various non-playable characters, but they cannot establish romantic relationships with them, as was a trademark of previous BioWare games. The central meeting point of the game takes place in Fort Tarsis, the central stronghold of Anthem. Built by the eponymous General Helena Tarsis, it serves as a fortified settlement against the threats of the outside world and is also the point where the player goes to receive new missions and freelance assignments. It is a melting pot where all the different factions of the game meet, including the Sentinels, Corvus, Cyphers, and Arcanists.
The game features both single-player and co-operative multiplayer elements in a "shared world" that can have up to four squad members per team. Teams can fight savage beasts and ruthless marauders while exploring lost ruins and experiencing massive, world-altering terrain occurrences, such as "Shaper Storms".