After playing about 13 hours of Anno 1800’s Open Beta this weekend, I can confidently say that I am hooked. This has been some of the most fun I have had building and managing a city, making alliances and enemies along the way.
The early hours of the campaign put you in charge of a small island, that you need to build up and develop. There’s a lot to absorb here, but Anno 1800 does a great job of tutorializing everything. You start off with a small marketplace and a population of less than 100. After putting them to work, you slowly start expanding. You clear out some of the neighboring areas of debris, and put in some structures there as well.
Slowly, you come across other leaders with their own settlements that they’re expanding. You can choose to ally with them or take over their territory. While Anno 1800 does not a huge militaristic bend to it, there are some standoff-ish situations that you need to handle once in a while
As with any good city builder, the most satisfying part of the gameplay is in seeing the numbers go up. As your city expands, your workforce and population goes up too. Farmers get upgraded to workers, and so do their residences. You unlock access to higher tier structures, industries, workshops, etc.
As the workforce improves, their needs also increase. While farmers were happy with a few distractions, skilled workers will demand more from you. This constant push and pull of upgrading your city and fulfilling the needs of the residents makes for a very satisfying gameplay loop.
Eventually the resources on the starting island will run out, and you’ll need to chart further territories. If things do go sideways, you can always take control of the presses and start pushing out positive stories in the newspapers. Of course, no amount of fake news can change the ground reality of what’s actually happening, and a really displeased population can lead to a riot.
You can send out expeditions to explore and discover new lands that you can colonize, and they will give you a lot more resources. You can trade resources across different locations, while building settlements on them separately. As the game progresses, it becomes a lot more demanding. You’ll be managing a fairly big population spread across multiple islands.
The campaign does a good job of introducing mechanics, giving you a sense of progression and direction, and keeping you busy with tons of quests. You can also go into sandbox where the possibilities are seemingly endless.
Anno 1800 is releasing on the 16th of April for PC.
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