It was an idea that I was already shuffling after trying some betas of Anno 1800. Basically I started to play and, one game after another I saw how the hours flew and I always had something to do. No waiting for the numbers to get where they need to be. Always a task to manage or carry out. So I kept telling myself if this was really it, if what I felt was true and Anno 1800 was about to become my new favorite city builder.
On more than one occasion I have commented on how much I like this genre and the embarrassing amount of hours I can invest in them, so you could say that I have a good basis of opinions on what I like and not on this type of titles for such a statement. Today, after not a few hours with the game, I can safely say that I was right: Anno 1800 is one of the best 4X in history.
A game created with passion
Ubisoft’s work with this delivery, and more specifically with the evolution of this saga, seems to me something to frame. Extending their bases, recycling old ideas and integrating new ones, they have built an almost perfect city builder in which there is no room for complaints. Neither in the interface, nor in the quantity of content, nor in a visual display with which it is impossible not to marvel.
Anno 1800 is a beautiful game, a giant diorama that allows you to approach the view at an insulting distance to show you, with all luxury of details, how precious are each of its buildings. All of them small moving models in which to watch children play or workers break their backs.
The work behind it is simply overwhelming, with an enormous number of constructions spread across five classes and with modifications that contemplate even more options for the works and buildings spread between the Old and New World. And that without adding the panorama that present scenarios and boats, without a doubt another candy with which to rejoice the sight.
Without a doubt an exquisiteness for someone who placed all his collection of LEGO or Playmobil on the typical carpet of a city as if he were preparing an exhibition in a museum. It may not be a determining factor when adding to it, but it does serve as a prelude to understanding the mime and passion placed in Anno 1800.
A day in Anno 1800
For those who don’t know the saga or what Anno 1800 has to offer, the best way to understand how deep it moves is to explain what it means to spend a day with it. His approach is curious because, in essence, it’s like going into a dozen small management games. All of them built one on top of the other so that they can function as an isolated element in spite of being one more piece of an extensive machinery.
The beginning, agile and bearable, is like any other title of the style that comes to mind. You have a deserted port waiting for people to work in it, so you start creating peasant houses while adding logging huts and sawmills that allow you to create boards with which to continue building.
After that, there’s a typical food source to feed your people and a branch of business to dress them up with, based on wool farms and sewing shops. All as part of a small wheel that starts to spin and whose main objective is that each of the houses you have built ends up full of happy villagers. When that happens it will be time to improve their homes, improving their condition and the number of residents of each of them, but thereby eliminating their interest in previous jobs and needs while generating new ones. Now instead of farmers you have workers, so you will have to check if your previous jobs have run out of manpower and, of course, start managing what your new citizens are asking for.
Here’s the loop that will accompany you through the rest of the game through five increasingly demanding population groups. What at first is merely a fish to put in your mouth, does not take long to jump into fur coats or canned products that, oh surprise, can not be produced on your island.
A tremendously addictive loop
At that point we have reached the time to start expanding by looking for other lands where, for example, we can create farms with more fertile soils to produce other products. By then you’ll have toyed with the idea of walking around with your boat, discovering other islands or people with whom to trade transporting part of your production, but it’s time to raise the level.
The idea is to create another settlement with its own population and resources, sharing only the money in your account. The rest must be transported back and forth to continue production, and then you discover another layer of depth, that of creating efficient trade routes and, more importantly if possible, protecting them from possible pirate attacks.
Here you load, there you transport and here you have the option of placing defenses that protect the ships that move from here to there and cranes that can fix the damage caused while the warehouses are filled with merchandise. Add the discovery of the New World to the mix and you’ll have three distinct colonies that require your constant attention.
That all this is more than controlled? Don’t worry, there’s still some fabric to cut, because if you don’t need your defense ships anymore, you can send them on expeditions across the globe with a system of small conversational adventures in which the transported objects will be your change coin to overcome the small challenges that arise. Why play it? To go in search of animals and museum pieces, for example.
Zoo and expeditions, their new assets
When your city becomes a tourist destination, it’s up to you to make it the most appealing city possible, and that doesn’t just mean taking pollution from your factories and taking it elsewhere, it’s also about creating events and buildings focused on attracting the attention of visitors and maximizing attractiveness. The first depends on the general welfare and, for the second, the great addition of this Anno 1800: the zoo.
When we speak of depth at the level of passionate madness is for elements like these. We are not talking about a building called a zoo that attracts tourists, but a network of possibilities that involves getting and placing up to 100 different animals acquired through commercial or expeditions. All of them on the ground. Demencial is not much, but it comes to certify what we have been saying for a while, that we are in front of one of those games that you don’t finish.
That means getting rid of the classic problem of inactivity, thus giving a constantly changing world that you must manage little by little, with the security of stepping firmly before taking the next step without everything getting out of control. It may seem easy on paper, but it isn’t at all. There may be room for improvement in information management, but as I said at the beginning, there’s no option to complain about the work behind Anno 1800, not only until the release of the game, but also after its release. To show a button, the fact that the first free update is intended to include detailed statistics on the different production lines and the buildings that make them up.
In addition, there will be other options such as a cooperative mode, community challenges that will unlock new aspects for your character and, of course, everything included in the three DLC that will arrive at the game via Season Pass, including a Botanical Garden that will add a mechanic similar to that of a zoo and museum.
The opinion of Vida Extra
The fact that I had to make an effort to finish this text and not jump headlong into playing Anno 1800 gives a good idea of the extent to which it is a game as attractive as it is absorbing. Going into it means spending an enormous amount of hours in a constant and fun loop whose depth reaches unhealthy heights even for those of us who are fans of the genre.
The applause to Ubisoft Blue Byte for what they have managed to capture can not resonate more strongly, and is that not every day is launched a game that marks a before and after in a saga like Anno and a genre like 4X.
A deserved achievement that, based on passion for details and good treatment of fans, has as a reward not only to be able to play this ambitious management game, but also to approach him to the point of checking how that white tiger that you just put in your zoo. Now, if you’ll allow me, there’s a grape export route to make champagne that requires my attention.