Ubisoft’s Anno 1800 is one of the city-building games that’s a massive timesink and requires your utmost attention to the tiniest of details. It’s set at the onset of industrialization in the world, giving us new ways to modernize society. Unlike other city-building titles out there, Anno 1800 focuses more on managing resources and population as opposed to your city.
The game feels familiar to previous Anno games but relates the most to the fan-favorite Anno 1404. Bringing the classical element to the game instead of a more modern and futuristic approach. On paper, it looks simple enough at first but as you progress, there’s a heck ton of micro-management with things starting to get tricky as you progress.
Anno 1800 introduces a host of new features as compared to the previous installments while also expanding on some of the fan-favorite features – things that fans were looking forward to during the development phase.
Anno 1800 Review
As a guy who skipped the last Anno game for obvious reasons, Anno 1800 surprised me in all the good ways. I started my campaign and was so hooked that I finished it in one sitting. The story was interesting and kept me in a state of shock throughout the campaign.
It’s highly recommended that if you are new to the game, you should start the campaign instead of going straight for the sandbox experience. The campaign is designed as a tutorial to help newcomers understand the basic concepts of the game. Anno 1800 offers a variety of features and difficulty settings for the Sandbox Mode, as it was present in previous installments.
I felt that during my sandbox experience, citizens were more aggressive in demanding their needs as opposed to earlier installments. However, the one thing that made me restart many of my runs was my inability to plan properly for the futuristic needs of my citizens and thus not having any space for luxury buildings.
The city planning aspect is very important and one that can bottleneck your progress. An unplanned city can ruin your many hours-long progress in a matter of minutes.
The game also divides the basic and luxury needs of the citizens. You only need to cover the basic needs of your citizens to advance them to the next tier. Fulfilling their luxury needs will make them happy and increase your tax income. While the needs of citizens have increased in the game, they’re divided so you only need the basics instead of requiring everything.
I also found that even the large islands aren’t enough to sustain a large population. You can maybe have a medium-sized city to a certain level that requires a lot of planning and city management. On top of it, if you’ve got a highly industrialized city, your crops can suffer from fertility issues, resulting in population loss.
Planning is another important aspect in terms of both agriculture and industrial buildings as well as future spacing for housing. During my playthrough of the game, it took me a few restarts to get the desired city for my needs.
You’ll have to keep your agricultural production separated from your industrial zones. Alternatively, you can spread out your industrial setup so it doesn’t pollute your island too much. Highly industrialized cities have the potential of losing some fertility bonuses. While in previous entries, you only lost production efficiency, the punishment is far more severe in Anno 1800.
The game wants you to settle new lands to get goods to funnel into your home base. As opposed to previous Anno titles, you could simply rely on trade for some of your required goods. It isn’t the case anymore and you’ll only get minor help from AI.
In one of my test runs, I jump started my settlement and shifted all my agricultural and industrial buildings to other islands. This, somehow, worked wonders for my main settlement. I was making so much money that I could buy shares on an IA island every 20 minutes or so.
Speaking of islands, similar to previous installments, you can basically take over someone’s island in a hostile takeover by buying all of its share that is one of the fun approaches you can use to expand without conflict. However, do note that this can also be done to you so always look for pop-ups regarding share purchases.
One of the best or worst (depending on perspective) things I got in the game was my economy collapsing in a matter of minutes. Especially during the transition phase of my switch to higher-ranked citizens because I was expanding way too fast for it to be sustainable.
The game keeps you on your toes all the time which is the thing I love about Anno series. It’s a city-building game where preplanning is always important and helps you in the latter stages of the game.
Having a huge bulk of the cash is also very important now, as they fixed trade farming AI from the previous game where you could sell your surplus goods to AI that kept you afloat. While I always monitored my trading transactions, I was hardly making any money from it. While I think this makes the game a tad harder, trading is an important aspect of the game and needs a few tweaks. Well there are some money farming exploits you can do but lets not get into that here.
At times, I felt clueless about my economy. It fluctuates a lot at times without any major event in your settlement. You get an overview of your total income and your current islands income that makes things a little trickier. If one of your islands is in a loss, you’ll not know what’s wrong with it in terms of making money.
One of the great additions to the game is the active workforce of your settlement. You require a certain type of workforce for every building. If that workforce is not sufficient for your settlement, you’ll need to build more houses of that population type. You may not notice it in the early stages of your game but as you progress, it can start to become a problem.
Just like Anno 1404, you have two types of “Population”. Similar to 1404, we get the New World in 1800. While the Colonization Age began nearly two centuries ago, Anno 1800 allows you to be an adventurer and colonize the vast lands of New World of Islands. You can simulate the Age of Exploration and exploit the riches of it.
You’ll be able to charter your ships to establish a Trade Network between your Old World and New World colonies. Trade is made a lot simpler as compared previous games but you’ll still need to get a hang of it to understand how it works.
Many of AI interactions are quite boring and can get annoying at times. I felt they should’ve done better, especially those characters who are involved in the campaign. Voice acting felt a bit lackluster as well, especially the grunt sound they make when you start an interaction. In a vast trade game, if you’re interacting with many AI, it can get a little annoying.
In the end, Anno 1800 tells the tale of a developer listening to its core fanbase, improving on it, and delivering on what everyone wanted and loved about the franchise. The game execution is on point and if you love playing a city-builder, Anno 1800 is definitely worth it.
A PC code for the game was provided by Ubisoft.