«Anno 1880» is back: how time flies when you’re having fun
After the series sidestep to the future in «Anno 2205», «Anno 1880» brings it back to colonial times: the campaign begins in the old world, having you build houses for your residents, felling trees for lumber, sending out fishing boats and raising sheep for their wool.
One difference to previous games is that «Anno 1880» provides various types of labour. When your population is content enough, you can upgrade your buildings to the next level. This doesn’t just add new building possibilities, however: demand is also increased. There’s farmers, workers, masons, engineers and investors. Farmers are supplied with fish and wool. Workers on the other hand demand sausages and bread. They even have the audacity to ask for soap. Those spoiled low-lifes.
There’s always a catch
Aside from demands, happines also comes into play. You can meet this condition with luxury goods such as booze or education. New building options are unlocked through your people’s growth and diversification. However, this also increases the need for micromanaging, which drastically builds up your workload. You’re constantly putting out real or proverbial fires. Running low on beer? Time to plant some new hop and wheat fields. This lowers the number of available workers. Requiring a few more housing blocks. Then your supplies of fish plummet and there’s no more wood, and on, and on: Sometimes you have an abundance of supplies, overfilling your storage, other times you barely have anything.
As not all islands you can settle on contain all resources, you’ll eventually have to seek out new soil. They, however, operate completely independently from your existing towns. This means you’ll have to first supply a ship with all the needed material, then sail to the island and build up a new settlement – which carries all the previous pitfalls with it. As soon as you discover the New World in South America, the game really heats up.
Expeditions and civilian missions
One aspect to note is the expeditions. Time and again, you can send your ships off on a thrilling adventure. You regularly have to choose between various paths to take. Their success rate depends on your crew’s morale, their ship and what tools they have with them. One of my ships once ran into a giant kraken. I had a bonus thanks to my legendary cannon. Even with this, the kraken managed to ensnare the ship in its grasp. I only succeeded on the next choice, when I decided to chop off its tentacles with axes that were on board. I received some new exotic animals as a reward at the end of that expedition.
Another important factor in the growth and happiness of your citizens is the newspaper. It reports on the life and the goings-on of your settlement. This has a direct effect on happiness and productivity. If you don’t enjoy negative press, you can easily replace it with your own – even if propaganda and censorship are sometimes frowned upon.
«Anno 1880» isn’t for (filthy) casuals. Thank god it’s not hellishly difficult, however. You’ll have to juggle multiple issues at the same time, but you get rewarded with simply wonderful graphics. You can zoom in extremely close, ogling at the comings and goings of your citizens. Another dream come true is again the totally realistic water animation: When watching your frigates in epic see battles, it’s easy to forget you’re supposed to send a trading ship, collect flotsam or put down the occasional rebellion.
«Anno 1880» is a wild party for any strategy gamer. But just like with every party: someone needs to organise and run the thing. You can judge how Raphi and I handled this task in our Let’s Play.