Anno has made yet another leap forward into the future with all the extra technology and science that comes with it. The corporations of Anno 2070 are long since redundant and although some remnants remain the factions are all but gone. Instead there are new global factions that represent mega corporations that have made it to the moon and created a settlement there in the hopes of solving the energy crisis. Oh yeah, Anno is going to the moon!
Clearly building on the moon is a fairly big change for Anno and the main structure of the gameplay has changed to accommodate it. Rather than moving a settlement to an island and building it up until there’s no space left you will now be in control of several different maps at once. Your first area is ‘Temperate’ and forms the core of your population mass and therefore your financial income. Your chief concerns are similar to Anno 2070 in that you will be balancing farms and various factories to give your civilians what they need.
The second area you get control of is in the ‘Arctic’ which provides a completely different set of challenges. Factories and mines will provide a certain area of heat and your colonists must be housed within to make use of the warmth they provide. There’s quite a different aesthetic once your settlement is built up as you create smaller pockets of civilization rather than sprawling, uniform cities. The Arctic is also where you will attract your scientists and produce valuable minerals and resources not available in Temperate climates. It’s actually quite freeing to build like this and finally have to get over building everything obsessively symmetrical.
The final frontier is the ‘Lunar’ environment which is only available after you have sufficient upgrades to your spaceport so that you can reach the moon. Yet another set of challenges await you on the moon as your buildings will need to be shielded from asteroids and other space debris that impact on the surface. There is a similar gameplay to the Arctic except you can directly control the areas that are shielded for you to build in. There are also different resource concerns once again and the balancing act is significantly different in each of the three areas.
One of Anno 2070’s main tasks was organizing shipping routes to ensure goods got from one island to another. This time around resources are shared on an area wide scale so having huge amounts of intricately planned shipping lanes isn’t necessary anymore. Instead each area will need resources from the other regions. So your transfer routes will be set up on a global scale without the need to build and manage ships. Instead there is just a financial cost to maintaining the route depending on where the goods are coming from, going too and how many you’re moving. It’s a lot less fiddly than it was back in 2070 and despite taking some of the management out of the game it’s a welcome change.
Balancing production is much easier now thanks to the altered UI and production values. When you check out your inventory now there isn’t the option to store huge amounts of resources but instead the net resource production is displayed as a simple integer – whether it’s plus, minus or zero. The production rate of factories and farms is also clearly displayed so it’s quite simple to adjust a value and get production back up. You don’t have to guess or spend hours on the wiki anymore then wait until the production rate catches up, instead placing a building updates the net production instantly. It’s much more satisfying now that you are given the important values you need to create a balanced production chain. There’s also a lot less buildings that tediously require something like 70% of the previous building in the chain which often leads to surplus resources.
A lot of buildings still allow you to build extra satellite buildings but it’s no longer a requirement. It used to be that placing a building would require, for example, 4 extra buildings (such as fields or factory buildings) to get production to 100%. Now the single initial building will produce at 100% but you can add extra modules to boost production. You can also add small modules that give you the option to reduce the maintenance cost, power consumption or required manpower which can be extremely valuable especially when using extra production on a single building as the reductions are a percentage.
The UI and building tools are all clean and basically work perfectly. After 10’s of hours I can’t remember placing anything wrong even once due to the build tools. Dragging roads and placing objects is efficient and there is even an extremely useful new feature, move. No longer will you need to basically completely destroy your city when you develop enough, you can just easily move stuff around to fit extra buildings in. You can even use it to expand when you run out of space and move production to another island as I did. You don’t even have to set up endless shipping lanes when you do so. Or if you need to place a building because a population has upgraded and has different needs you can shuffle the buildings around easily. Plus upgrading residences is not automatic by default anymore either so no more wondering were all your resources have gone and cities upgrading houses in a different order than the one you wanted. There’s even a new tool for using the mouse when upgrading so you don’t need to click on each house and press ‘U’ individually – although you can if you want to.
Combat has been moved away from the city building experience and now takes the form of individual scenarios for you to play using a prebuilt fleet of ships. The objectives are simple and combat still only concerns naval units so the combat itself isn’t all that different. Not having to spend hugely rare resources on something you hardly ever use is a nice relief and you tend to risk the ships more knowing that you’ll start with them again in the next missions without totally crippling your economy. The missions are strangely similar to the economy balancing act as you collect powerful single use abilities and fuel used to repair your ships and decide when to use them tactically. Learning to use these abilities is absolutely the key to success in the combat zones and can’t be ignore unless you play below your level.
The only big problem with Anno 2205 are the technical hitches. Frame rates can drop unexpectedly and ruin everything and even normally it’s difficult to get a smooth visual. It’s such a good looking game which is the real shame because a few lost frames constantly niggling really destroys the experience. The three totally different regions to play in really vary the looks which helps keep things fresh rather than looking at the same map for the entire game but at times it’s challenging not to notice the lost frames.
The new multi region gameplay is also satisfyingly progressive and having to overcome three challenges at once offers some interesting layers to the gameplay. The same old time-destroying Anno gameplay is still very much present but now you have better tools to build with and balance production. Moving the combat away into separate missions is another great decision allowing Anno 2205 both better city building and combat at the same time. Aside from the technical difficulties, which I seriously hope can be resolved with an update, Anno 2205 is a brilliant move forward in every respect. I had high hopes for Anno 2205 and it delivers everything I expected and more across the board. Once again, Anno is by far the best city builder there is.