I happened across this gem during the Ubisoft free week promotion on Game Pass. The PC game Anno 1800 was ported to Series X/S. I played a little on PC with little success. A little older, and a little wiser, I’ve taken another crack at it on console.
Visually it is very smooth and detailed. Zooming in far enough will allow you to see your individual citizens. The detail on the grand Victorian buildings is beautiful. A game like this is hardly taxing on the GPU, but it’s nice to see the level of detail that the models have.
The gameplay is reasonably challenging on normal difficulty. I remember having much more difficulty, but after learning where to find key metrics, I’ve been able to prevent my citizens from running away in disgust. Sustainable growth is key. It’s easy to attract lots of citizens. It’s a lot harder to get them to stay for any length of time. Pay close attention to the needs and wants of your citizens, and you will reach plateaus of stability where you can focus your attention elsewhere.
This is not just your same-old city builder, though. While there’s aspects of economy in choosing what to build, the goal is to make money and defeat your competitors. To that end, you can also build weapons and ships. You can establish trade routes both with your competitors and with your other islands. Trade routes don’t operate in virtual space. You will need to build ships that will have a concrete existence for the duration of the trade route. Therefore – piracy!
The learning curve is rather steep, which is to be expected with so many features. The Campaign serves as a tutorial for all of the features of Anno 1800 and leaves you in sandbox mode at the end. Like its contemporaries, Anno 1800 has monetized the customization of the finished model. Once you have built a sizable city, there are many DLCs available with new ornaments and buildings to customize your Victorian city, just the way you like it. Given the detail in the base set, I think I’ll have a look, assuming I can ever get a city with more than a handful of people!
Overall, I think the game will appeal to a broad group of gamers. For 4X players, the 4X are all there. For city builders, the opportunity to build in a different era. And for general strategy enthusiasts, I think it’s worth a look. Patience and planning will pay off, and your citizens will thank you for it.