Platform: Microsoft Windows
Developer: Ubisoft Blue Byte Mainz
The Anno series took a leap into the future in the previous instalment, Anno 2070. Whereas these popular city-building games had always featured historical contexts, Ubisoft broke tradition and chose an environmentally-conscious setting: players were tasked with building floating metropolises after the Arctic ice cap had melted and raised the global sea level.
Now, for the latest in the long-running series, Ubisoft has gone even further into the future, embracing a sci-fi-rich setting: players can finally unleash their inner city-planner on … the moon!
That’s right: unlike the huge number of Earth-based city-building games, Anno 2205 allows players to set up their own lunar colonies, experimenting with new technologies and resources.
So, is this a small step for the series, or one giant leap for the genre?
Step into your Moon-Boots
While the moon features heavily in Anno 2205, the game begins with Earth-based building: multiple cities must be constructed, with their average size being five times bigger than those in previous games. Players can link their cities together with bridges, and buildings & facilities can be relocated once built (without charge). Unlike Anno 2070, there are no pollution or no underwater-segments, due to the addition of moon-based gameplay.
So, how does the lunar landscape come into play? Once Earth-set cities have advanced enough, players can conduct research into launching rockets – once they arrive, colonisation can begin.
However, the moon’s colonies are built for more than just exploration: the inhabitants work hard producing Helium-3 and other metals, which are then sent back to Earth in exchange for food, water, and other essentials. Building settlements is par for the course, as in previous Anno games – only now, due to the moon’s thinner atmosphere, you’ll also need to create shields to protect civilians from meteor-showers.
A Not-so-vicious Cycle
While the moon setting is new and exciting, fans can rest assured that the basic gameplay remains the same: over time, you create your own city, upgrading civilians’ housing to improved levels (taking workers from low-level grunts, to executives and then, ultimately, moguls); as you build more buildings to gather vital resources, you’ll need more workers, who need houses – the cycle goes on and on, allowing you to expand your humble settlements into sprawling metropolises.
Unlike many games set in the future, Anno 2205 has been designed with an optimistic mindset: this is meant to be a world in which players would want to actually live, rather than one filled with war and bloodshed. This helps to make this a more relaxed experience, based around keeping your populace happy, building a productive civilisation, and keeping the capitalistic cycle going. Collecting raw, natural resources to manufacture materials locally is one way to do this, but trade routes can also be set up, allowing you to import these from elsewhere.
Cities include more than residential buildings: such creations as water-distillation facilities, robot-production factories, sunflower fields, and more are all available. Another new feature is the ability to add to existing buildings rather than starting each turn with fresh ones: for example, modules can be affixed to mining camps to reduce the amount of energy used, while turbines can be installed to capture energy.
Thankfully, players can switch between managing their Earth- and lunar-based cities at the same time: this prevents players from losing control of one city while they attend to another. This helps to keep the gameplay feeling fresh, with both environments offering a different aesthetic and feel.
Fans of the Anno series will have plenty of new features to enjoy without needing to worry about drastic changes to the gameplay, and we’re excited to see where the experience will extend to next time: Maybe colonising Mars? Interstellar travel? Perhaps establishing a new galaxy-spanning series of settlements?
Whatever Ubisoft decides to add to future instalments, Anno 2205 gives fans and newcomers alike lots to see and do, with the same fun, intelligent city-management structure we’ve come to expect. While this doesn’t redefine the genre, it’s absolutely a great purchase for fans and gamers searching for a more cerebral experience.