Anno 1800 Review

Just like Brunel when he built the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the SS Great Britain, I too will leave my mark on this (virtual) world as I try to become a master of production during the industrial revolution.

Developer:
Publisher: Ubisoft
Price: £49.99
Players: 1 local – Online multiplayer
Genre: Strategy, City Building, Management

This product was provided for free.

Humble Beginnings

What’s it about?

The Anno series has been around for over 20 years now, but this is the first time I’ve jumped in to play the real time strategy, city building game. Anno 1800 takes us back to the Industrial Revolution, a time of massive change, hulking factories and mass production in the modern world.

In Anno 1800 you’ll settle on a new piece of land and from there you’re free to start creating your empire. To start with you’ll only have a few options for buildings such are farm houses, market places and warehouses, but as you’re settlement grows to a town and city and you head through the ages of technology you’ll gain access to a wide range of structures and production lines.

Anno 1800 places a lot of emphasis on production too, with multiple buildings needed to produce certain resources. For example, in order to make bread you’ll need a grain farm, flour mill and bakery. What I like about this is that you get to see all the carts moving from place to place bringing the necessary resources with them to move on to the next part of production, it makes it feel more like a real living place you’re creating. It also allows for a lot of creativity and freedom to design your town as you see fit.

Anno 1800 has a single player campaign, a sandbox mode and multiplayer available. Both the campaign and sandbox mode play pretty similarly the main difference being that there is a little more exposition and story with the campaign, but the gameplay elements remain the same.

Look & Feel

Right from the very get go it’s easy to see that Anno 1800 is a gorgeous game, the islands are densely packed and detailed with wildlife running around, the sea looks fantastic, the detail in the buildings when you zoom in is great. There’s always a lot to look out for when you get in close to your city.

Ship Building

The game controls like any other RTS and I can’t really fault it for that, although I have had some issues with a daul monitor setup and my mouse leaving the ‘game window’ meaning I can’t use it to scroll around the map. It’s easily overcome by using the keys, but it’s a slightly annoying issue. That is pretty much my only gripe with the game in terms of how it plays and it’s performance, I’ve not had any other bugs or issues at all which is great to see.

In order to succeed in Anno you’ll need to manage your production lines well and understand the supply and demand of neighboring islands so that you can provide them with resources to sell via trade routes created that your ships can sail to them.

Some of these elements are fairly clearly explained but others just aren’t, for example, there is a break down of how much money you’re making with the overall amount either showing you a plus or negative. But there are certain costs within the breakdown that just aren’t explained which for me meant on one of my saves I wasn’t really sure why I started loosing money, it was just happening. The shift in what you make or loose also happens constantly, meaning one minute you’re money is going up, but the next it could be going down, and I couldn’t figure out what it was that was actually causing me to lose money.

The trade routes also aren’t explained in that much detail either, but thankfully they aren’t that complicated once you try out a few things. But it’s these little areas where information just lacks slightly that had me falling behind and losing money when I first started playing and it seemed that nothing I did ever changed that. I just teetered on gaining a bit of money and losing some. The main source of income basically became completing quests for other AI players dotted around on other islands.

There is lots of detail in Anno, which means there are lots of nuances when it comes to optimizing your output, but some of the detail behind that isn’t really there, whilst you can see that you’re making X amount from farmers you can’t see which actual products are making the money – at least not that I could see.

You can also gain access to special characters that will help with certain production lines. You can listen to your towns folk for suggestions and they might grant you special items for bonuses. There is certainly a lot to get stuck in to and you can easily be kept busy with the campaign for 15 hours or so and even longer with the sandbox and multiplayer modes.

You can end up with something like this!

War not Peace

If peaceful trading isn’t your thing then you can always take a tougher approach by engaging in warfare with ship to ship combat. Its not really an area I’ve explored that much as I prefer the trade and building of production lines, but there are a number of different ships to build each with there own unique look and play style. Some ships are speedy but lightweight with armour, others are slowly heavier beasts that pack a lot of fire power.
You can also fortify the areas around your ports with gun turrets that will protect you from any enemies trying to get too close.

It does feel like there are a lot of options for how you want to set out on your domination of the world, giving you a nice variation to gameplay should you want to change things up a little, but my preference is usually a more peaceful route.

Pros

+Gorgeous environment and visuals
+Fun rewarding gameplay
+Loads to unlock and build

Cons

-Some patchy tutorial elements
-Not the greatest detail on money making

Summary

Anno 1800 is a great game, as I said I’ve not played the previous ones but others have stated it’s more of a return to form for the series. Whilst I can’t comment on that, I can certainly say that it’s a great game well worth investing some time in to should you be a fan of the genre. Beautiful visuals, engaging gameplay and a lot of depth will keep you playing for a long time. There is also future content planned for the with the season pass being available that will add some interesting sounding DLC!

-Will

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