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Anno 1800 Review – Back to the Roots

Published in 2015, Anno 2205 turned out to be a true circumferential bombast, causing cheers among friends of futuristic worlds. Now the successful series has been back since 16 April with Anno 1800 and, despite a clear focus on its own roots, does not forego exciting innovations. Whether the current work of Ubisoft, including the class system, also poses challenges to connoisseurs of the series will be explained in more detail in our following test.

We Get Our Own Island

But let us first come to the story of Anno 1800: You will find yourself in the middle of the 19th century – a time of industrial revolution. You slip into the role of a young aspiring founder, whose father was sentenced by the crown and dies in prison. His once proud empire ends up in the clutches of your mocking uncle, who only has more contempt for you and your deceased father. From now on it is your mission to clear the name of the family and prove the innocence of your father. So you will settle your own island and appoint yourselves the founder of the future. But beware: Other civilizations are also struggling for power and not every people is well-disposed towards you. And even the sea is teeming with predatory pirates. Your mission begins and it quickly becomes apparent that the building of a civilization is fraught with its own pitfalls.

Not More Strategic Depth Thanks to New Class System

In terms of gameplay, Anno 1800 clearly reflects on the strengths of its predecessors while still brimming with clever new features, which we will discuss in more detail in the following lines. You start with the construction of a small village, you ensure a lively exchange of goods by creating markets and you don’t miss out on one or two convivial drinks with a cosy inn.

In order to provide every citizen with sufficient food, clothing and other important goods, farmers, lumberjacks and fishermen in suitable production facilities are necessary. Little by little you are building new buildings, such as bakeries and mills, and planting generous fields of grain for a productive harvest. To ensure that your residents also reliably carry out their tasks, it is essential that their basic needs are adequately met at all times. Anno 1800 distinguishes between basic and luxury needs, although you are more flexible with the latter. If you want to keep your production chain and employees running, you have to provide a marketplace for retailers as well as production facilities for clothing and co. If you also provide for a little luxury, such as a tranquil tavern, then your reputation and the social interaction of your residents will be further strengthened.

One of the most significant new features of Anno 1800 is the so-called class system, which adds tactical depth to the game. So you start with farmers who can be upgraded in the course of the game to become workers, engineers or investors and can thus also be used for other areas. But beware: While you can’t get a farmer enthusiastic about producing glasses, an engineer doesn’t see himself called to work in the field. At this point always pay attention to a balanced ratio of all classes, because otherwise you will quickly be missing in one or the other employee at the decisive moment. At this point we recommend that you always keep an eye on the lack of certain occupational groups as well as on unemployment in order to be able to act with foresight.

New Trading Partners and Nasty Pirates

But even if the contemplative South America produces some goods, you can only manage efficiently if you cultivate sustainable trade relations with other peoples. By ship you import and export various raw materials, plan trade and charter routes and determine the ports for loading and unloading your ships. With every additional retail chain, it is important to plan more efficiently and carefully and to consider not only transport times but also weather and wind conditions. Oh yes, and there are the not so friendly pirates who like to plunder your bunk and can be found almost everywhere on the map. If you want to be on the safe side here, you’d rather take a little detour. But not only the pirates will make you frown again and again. Other parties also haggle over the scarce resources of your trading partners, so that it makes sense to deal well with one or the other faction. Since each civilization has its own motives, you will have to decide for yourself whether a generous gift of money will be fruitful for your counterpart.

To make sure you don’t get bored, there are some entertaining missions that will keep your population happy. So it’s a matter of sending wild animals that have lost their way to your city back into their terrain with small lures, conducting photo shoots or spying a little by ship.

If the endless game and the story mode are not enough for you, you can also let off steam on the map in a flexibly configurable multiplayer with up to three other players. So you can practice trading with your comrades-in-arms or declaring war on them, and you can set very different conditions for victory.

Balanced – but Not Quite Beginner-Friendly

When it comes to balance, the Anno 1800 is largely balanced – but it’s not right down to the last detail. Although the navigation and interface are tidy and clear, the game would have benefited from a more detailed explanation of individual game details. The AI is pleasantly clever in the battles, so that some opposing parties demand some combat skills or diplomatic skill from you. While this will appeal to connoisseurs of the series, newcomers will be well advised to get involved with the good players. All in all, however, in the year 1800 one has to admit that every type of player will quickly find his way around here and, above all, passionate founders will not be bored.

Clearly Structured Menus with Somewhat Shaky Camera Work

The menus already mentioned are structured as usual in Anno 1800, but with minor shortcomings. So the camera work is a bit messy in some moments and also one or the other tool to find buildings that can be upgraded would have been desirable. Sometimes it is unavoidable to search the card for corresponding production sites.

Detailed Graphics and Moderate Soundtrack

If you want to breathe a sigh of relief between the wild planning, building and trading, then the beautifully staged island is always worth a closer look. Thus, the graphics were also given a proper fine-tuning, while dynamic intermediate sequences underline the events again and again. Even though the dialogues constantly drive the plot forward, the German synchro sometimes turns out to be somewhat emotionless and deprives the scenery of the desired authenticity.

Result: A Successful Construction Game That Is Not Only Interesting for Genre Lovers

Anno 1800 proves to be a successful construction game, which is in no way inferior to its predecessors in terms of complexity and game depth. Again and again one is motivated to establish production chains, to transport raw materials and to constantly advance the development of one’s own settlement. Each element fits perfectly into the other, while the new class system presents even passionate founders with entirely new challenges. While the story rather functions as a solid accessory, there is an important new detail to be found at every corner, which can play an important role later on. Both connoisseurs of the series and beginners will find exciting play food in Anno 1800 and get an optically polished up construction game. Fans of the series can once again devote themselves to strategic long-term planning, while newcomers find an ideal introduction to the genre in Anno 1800.

+ atmospheric industrial age
+ playable in story mode as well as endless mode
– very sudden end of actual story
+ logically structured production processes
+ complex trade relations
+ Authentic class system provides additional depth of play
+ always new possibilities of building and planning
+ Multiplayer for up to four players
+ challenging naval battles
– partly generic missions
+ informative game aids
+ different AI types for each player type
+ many challenges for connoisseurs of the series
– not every detail is sufficiently explained
Control unit
+ Structured menus and navigation – partly unclean camera work
Graphic & Sound
+ detailed representation of the game world
+ improved graphics engine
+ atmospheric soundtrack
– partly little authentic german soundtrack

Simon Lüthje

I am co-founder of this blog and am very interested in everything that has to do with technology, but I also like to play games. I was born in Hamburg, but now I live in Bad Segeberg.

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