As a lover of city building sims, Anno is a series that has been dear to me since my introduction to the series with Anno 2070. Unfortunately due to an evergrowing backlog of games, I was unable to play the latest entry to this series till now. Almost 3 years have passed, and the game has seen three season pass’s along with a plethora of patches. Does it still hold up? The short answer is yes, Ubisoft has improved on everything that made the Anno games so great in the first place and introduced new ones, and with the huge amount of content available in the base game and DLCs, this is pretty much one of the best city builders in the market now.
AT A GLANCE
Release date: 16 April 2019(Base game)
Developer: Ubisoft Blue Byte(now Ubisoft Mainz)
Final Score: 10/10
The addictive loop of Anno 1800 boils down to a deceptively deep constant cycle of improving your small village into a sprawling city full of life. Starting off from humble beginnings where your residents have simple demands of keeping their bellies full and a roof over their heads to managing their demands for luxurious goods and more and more exotic foods. Things that you cannot produce on your own islands can be imported via trade, while surplus resources can be exported for profit.
Once you are comfortable with one island and have made it as efficient as possible, it’s time to create another settlement with its own population and resources, with shared money. Resources that are required for upgrades and keeping your local population content but not available in that island must be transported back and forth to continue production, requiring you to creating efficient trade routes and, more importantly, protecting them from possible pirate attacks.
Add to all that mix the discovery of the New World and sending your fleets out to explore for animals and musuem pieces, and what started off like any other city builder soon evolves into a complex strategy game with multiple layers that require you to manage each facet of your colonies to ensure that you are operating them in the most efficient way possible.
But trade and expanding your city are just a portion of what Anno 1800 offers. You can slowly turn your city to become a tourist destination, by making it the most desirable city possible, reducing the pollution from your factories and taking it to another place, placing buildings that increase the attractiveness as well as increase attraction to your city – such as the zoo. While in other games this might have been a simple static building, Anno offers you the opportunity to build an extensive customised zoo, letting you place over 100 animals that you yourself have captured.
It’s marvelous seeing how Ubisoft has managed slowly reveals the many complexities of this game without overwhelming you. Although I am used to the depth that comes to all the games of this genre and accustomed to this series, I have seen my fellow writers who haven’t touched a city building genre before easily adapt to this game without facing too many challenges. Before you realise it, the game has ramped up the difficulty by a few notches and the gameplay loop now requires you to efficiently juggle multiple gameplay elements.
The game also constantly increases the difficulty and throwing challenges at you, never giving you a dull moment. Unable to manage the expectations of your residents? your citizens can go on strike, not enough defenses? prepared to get raided by rival factions and pirates. And all of this happens in a way that is completely dynamic, and never feels like challenge for the sake of challenge.
Almost all of the stuff I just described was just the base game, without any paid DLC content, which expands and enhances the gameplay in more than one ways. The few shortcomings the base game had are almost all addressed through these DLCs, with the latest Seeds of Change overhauling the New World portion of the gameplay.
Anno 1800 is a gorgeous game, and there’s simply no other way to describe it. Zooming out to see your bustling city full of life and activity, with the day and night cycle offering new perspectives on your creation. It is simply overwhelming, especially once you are able to expand your constructions across the land. The attention to detail that Ubisoft Mainz has shown to the gameplay is visible in the visuals as well. Seeing the workers in the factories, the farmers in the fields, the pigs in the farms, tourists visiting your zoos. It’s simply breathtaking. It’s also quite demanding, managing to tax my 2070 quite a bit at maxed out 1440p, but the visuals make it worth it.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of gameplay systems and depth that Anno 1800 packs, but once you get used to it, there’s simply no other game on the market that comes close to what Anno 1800 offers.