The city-building genre has always been a tricky one to lure gamers into – you either love it or hate it. But the Anno series has always had an interesting twist to it, throwing players into framed time-periods in order to not only only give gamers a snapshot of the past or future, but an interesting dynamic where you have to manage the social and trade elements of a nation in-progress. Anno 1800 sends the series to the 19th century, booming from the advent of the Industrial Revolution, which is a fascinating time and a great setting for any game; but does Anno 1800 click the right pieces together to avoid a revolt from fans and newcomers alike?
The real-time management of essentially starting from scratch and building up your small village or seaside town into a flourishing empire is as satisfying as ever. Players begin with small tasks, such as mapping out your town and doing some geographic planning, but once you start producing your own goods and trading with other AI players on the map (along with avoiding or embracing some naval warfare), this is where Anno 1800 really shines.
Building trade-routes and cultivating relationships with neighbouring islands and other colonies is a delicate balance of ensuring you have the capacity (and attention span) to manage their demands, while also ensuring your own little slice of heaven continues to grow. Keeping your town-folk happy and providing their needs is a task unto itself too, so there’s a great diversity of managing micro and macro relationships within the game, as it definitely makes you feel like the small changes to your own city or personnel can have an effect on the larger dynamics across the game world.
One of the deterrents of strategy games can be the UI and presentation, and thankfully, Anno 1800 does a great job at bringing together the best visual cues, graphics, and a slick interface to ensure you know what to click and where to find it. The finer details of the structures, character animations, and the world itself all look great, and provide a far more immersive experience than a facade of spreadsheets and numbers.
So, should you buy it?
There’s no denying that Anno 1800 has its hurdles for newcomers – some of the more intricate elements of the game take a bit of time to get used to; but anyone who is somewhat familiar with the franchise or genre as a whole will find a lot to enjoy with Anno 1800 – just be ready to flex your patience and diplomacy skills when booting up.
Anno 1800 is available on PC