Preview: Anno 2205 (PC)
Welcome to the year 2205. The moon was populated 100 or so years ago and after corporations were overly greedy, this new resource was placed under state control. The people of the moon were largely left to their own devices. Now at the beginning of the 23rd century the resources and energy of Earth are all but spent. It is time to head to the moon once again.
It is up to you to build a city that can support your residents, providing them with food, vitamins, shelter and whatever other oddities they require. In exchange they will generate income for you and work in the various buildings that you create. This allows you to slowly amass products and cash, which you can use to build cities in other sectors. For the first time in an Anno game you can manage multiple cities simultaneously, This means you can use one city to curb the expenses generated by another while you aim for maximum rare resource output. Then you can send those rare resources to a third city for refining and creating a utopia, if you wish.
Getting to the moon isn’t going to be a clean cut process though. You require technology and infrastructure to get there and as CEO of an unknown startup you will be going up against five massive corporations that control more resources than most nations.
Things start slowly with only low-skill workers and tasks available. As you build your settlement you will slowly begin to unlock new buildings and classes of citizens. A good place to start is in a temperate region, where life is pretty easy. Sunflower oil can be harvested by drones which is then taken to the Biopolymer factory. This wonder material is used to build your other buildings, like apartments for workers and rice farms. While your warehouse will generate a little power, you will eventually need to start building wind parks, which feel rather expensive and inefficient for your requirements. Still life is pretty good here. The workers eat actual food instead of tablets and water desalinisation plants provide drinking water, if you have the appropriate coastal site on the island you chose to live on.
By this point you are in the standard rhythm of an Anno title. Build, expand, unlock better buildings, rebuild a section for better land use and repeat. But that final part doesn’t seem to come too soon as the game has provided massive tracts of land for you to conquer and populate. You can build on multiple islands in a sector, each island with coastal or mountain sites for mining, fishing and many other important resources. The nice part about living in the future is that if one of your warehouses has a specific resource, you can access it from any island in that sector. Building an island as a farm complex won’t create a logistics nightmare for you as your population will get the food delivered without you having to handle things to such a zoomed in level. This gives you time to think about the bigger picture. Much bigger.
Eventually your citizens will ask for a resource that you can’t get in your current sector. Then it is time to head to the Arctic. Living here, as well as building here, is pretty tough. The Arctic Custodians watch over this area, ensuring that nobody upsets the delicate balance of what is left of the polar ice caps. Industry has to be performed in a controlled manner with almost no pollutants. It is hard to work there and rather expensive to start off too. It is so cold that your houses will have to be heated by the industry you build here, adding a new sliding scale to your mix: do you have enough industry to heat your homes and what industry will you build if you want to increase your population quickly? The arctic has the last concentrations of fish high enough to make them worth fishing for. The mountains contain molybdenum and aluminium, which can be used to construct super strong alloys for the space elevator. It can also be used to build Neuro Implants, which your second tier of workers back in the temperate region require to be happy. Slowly you will build a network across the strategic map of resources travelling from one region to the next, allowing cities to export their excess to allow growth elsewhere.
Eventually I hit a ceiling imposed for the preview and I couldn’t continue the story and head to the moon, but I wanted to build more. There was still a few unlocks left and there was so much SPACE to build. I claimed another island, built huge bridges and started creating a little haven with ultra efficient buildings. Most industries allow modules to be built on: a rice farm can have a few more rice paddies added to improve output, or an expensive building can have its cost reduced by installing finance calculators on site. You can even make industry run without staff by building drone hives that do all the work. This costs rare resources instead of money, meaning you are always faced with a choice: do you build the same industry multiple times using cash and space, or a few super-efficient ones with modules. Modules are earned from quests or in conflict zones, contained maps where all the combat happens.
Combat happens in missions that remind me a lot of the Starcraft missions where you can’t build units and must make do with limited firepower and health. The split between building a city and combat is really appreciated. When you want to, or have to, fight you have a set region to destroy you enemy in with your ships. When you are busy building your masterpiece you don’t want silly fools destroying your newly built power station. That would make things ugly. Have I mentioned how stupidly gorgeous this game is? It has a postcard mode for a reason!
Anno 2205 releases on November 3.