by Sergio Brinkhuis, reviewed on
Anno 2070, the fifth iteration in the popular Anno franchise, poses something of an enigma to fans of the series. After four games that were set in the past, the city building game turns to the future to renew and expand itself beyond the beaten path. That this causes fans of the series more than a few concerns was made clear right from the start of the demonstration at this year’s GamesCom. “We know it is a big departure from the historical setting and fans have voiced their worries, but those that we gave hands-on time with the game loved it without exception.” Reassuring words, surely and while time will tell if these lucky fans are representative of all of the game’s fans, I must admit that Anno 2070 brings a lot to the table that no Anno based in history ever could.
Set in the future, Related Designs adopted a futuristic world where water levels have risen and mankind is divided into three different factions, each with their own philosophy on how to save the human race and rebuild our civilization. The Eco faction feels very strongly about living in harmony with nature and their buildings and technologies all reflect this. They build their cities roomier but with respect to their surroundings and they power their vehicles, houses and facilities with clean power wherever they can. The Tycoons, on the other hand, have no qualms about doing damage to the environment and will do whatever they can to push their production to ever increasing heights. The third faction, called The Techs, plays a similar role as the Orient did in Anno 1404. They aren’t actually playable but smooching up to them unlocks new technologies as the game progresses.
Reading the previous passage, fans of the series will undoubtedly have noted it revealed a new resource, namely Energy to power your civilization. There are multiple sources for creating power, ranging from oil and coal to solar and tidal power. One of the buildings that provide solar power is modeled after the Solar Thermal Power Plant from present day Seville. It is a monstrously large facility in real life and as such will prove to be a real space hog on your islands, but when the sun shines, it’ll power your city with completely clean energy. A huge jolt of power was added to the Energy resource meter when our demonstrator placed a dam at the mouth of a lake. Besides providing energy, the dam’s sheer size made it a sight to behold.
That is true for pretty much every aspect of the game as well. Anno 2070 looks absolutely fabulous and cities look and feel larger than ever before. The tallest buildings dwarf the cathedral in 1404 and they look a lot more detailed too. Going vertical and futuristic also allows for flying vehicles, both civilian and military. Blimps and flying cars hover through your cities at any given time and flying fire engines will douse any fire quickly and efficiently. The cities themselves reflect the philosophy of the faction that inhabits it, making the Eco cities look lush, green and spacey whereas Tycoon owned cities look a bit grimy, probably from the smoke coming out of their production facilities.
While adding flying units is a big departure from the previous games in the franchise, taking it under water is nothing but a landslide. While not all structures are available in underwater environments, there are enough to keep any city manager as busy building and optimizing as they would above water. In most missions it is up to you build underwater or not, but the rewards in resources are high and will usually be worth the extra effort.
And more, much more
We only had 20 minutes with the game and I have no doubt that there are a ton of features that I never got a chance to see, but a couple of noteworthy smaller ones are the Education Network where you can research new technologies to help your civilization’s growth, more depth in how you manage your citizens happiness and an improved combat system. The interface is also a lot more revealing and there are handy little tidbits of information popping up everywhere. Best of all though, we’re pretty sure that there will be a multiplayer mode. When asked, the presenter of the demonstration said “we haven’t announced that yet”. Note the ‘yet’ and draw your own conclusions.