hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Preview: Anno Online

6:00 PM on 05.10.2013 // Chris Carter

Quaint, peaceful browser-based city building

Simulation fans have had quite a storied history of games to choose from. While the genre may seem homogenized to outside viewers, sim-nuts can't get enough of the technical nuances of each title, and although they may look similar, it's one of the most varied genres out there.

Although the Anno series was one of my go-to games, it wasn't until Anno 2070 that I really became a fan. Two years later, Ubisoft Blue Byte is handling the all-new Anno Online, which seeks to marry the city-building genre with a persistent browser-based experience. It's not everything an Anno fan would want, but I have a feeling that more casual simulation gamers will enjoy it.

Anno Online (PC)
Developer: Ubisoft Blue Byte
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release: TBA
MSRP: Free (with microtransactions)

Anno Online is a browser-based game, which means you won't download anything, and will play it directly from the web. As such, you could say it utilizes "always-on" DRM, which will probably scare a bunch of you off. On the flipside, it is free, and doesn't force microtransactions down your throat every step of the way, even if it nudges you for them later on.

Anno Online will feature daily quests as well as a general questline, tasking you with typical city-building things like "attract 120 citizens," or "acquire 120 wood stockpiles." A robust but non-obtrusive tutorial serves to show you how to place buildings, and how locations of said buildings can influence production.

First you'll start off with a humble settlement with a marketplace, a few houses, and a fisherman's hut. Eventually, you'll start to make your mark on the world as you juggle hundreds of settlements, inter-city trading, and general empire management. The interface is fairly simple, with your economy indicators housed on the top left, social features on the bottom left, and the bulk of your tools on the bottom right.

Somehow, the social element of recruiting friends seems more fitting in Anno Online than other games. It also has an optional chatroom available on a per-server basis, which is extremely helpful when you feel the need to ask questions -- after all, everyone is working together for success. If you want both the friends list or chatroom to be hidden, you can do that. Right now it doesn't look like there's any annoying forced Facebook or Twitter integration, so the experience can be as isolated as you want.

In line with most free-to-play experiences, there's multiple forms of currency: in-game funds like lumber and stone, and real money funds called rubies. Just like any city-builder, all the in-game funds help expand your city as normal, and the rubies allow you to insta-buy more resources or upgrade buildings. You can earn rubies through questing and leveling up, but it offers diminishing returns as you progress.

Anno Online has a strict focus on peaceful city-building, as disasters and destruction have been turned off -- so if you're a more hardcore Anno fan, you may be left wanting for a bit more strategy. Alternatively, there are a ton of gamers out there who love simply city-building as a form of a zen garden, and turn off disasters anyways (some easy-going Sim City and Anno 2070 runs come to mind).

The world is persistent -- so if you don't manage your budget, go to sleep, and come back, you may find a lack of funds. Likewise if you kick ass at budgeting and increase your stockpile capacity through warehouses, you'll come back to more resources than you'll know what to do with. For the most part resources are constantly stockpiling, allowing you to play the game at basically any time, but exploring new territories do have a time-gate (around an hour or so until they open up).

The only major issue I've found so far is that after a number of days, things start to get stale as you fill your island(s), and wait for more resources to come in to progress into major transitions. Of course, that dirty word is involved with the project -- microtransactions. Thankfully, they're not really that intrusive, as you can play the vast majority of the game without them. For the most part, ponying up cash will just help facilitate faster construction and easier trade routes -- two features you can also get for free with patience and careful planning.

In the full game you can pay to earn more than six islands, but I'm nowhere near that point yet, even having extensively played the beta. There isn't an "energy" (wait-wall) mechanic per se -- progression is tied to how much your town produces. Still, you may feel the sting of waiting once you've progressed farther in the game, and I wish there were some sort of way to trade resources with other players to earn rubies to alleviate that.

An open beta test is planned later this year, and thankfully, the developers have announced that any progress through the closed or open beta will not be wiped. So far, Anno Online seems like a great alternative to the new Sim City. Although technically the new Anno has to be played online, the simple fact that it's free puts it streets ahead of EA's latest also online-only foray into the simulation market.

Chris Carter, Reviews Director
 Follow Blog + disclosure DtoidChris Tips
Chris (Magnalon) has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, make an account, and start blogging in January of 2009. Now, he's staff! -----------... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
Wow I just want a mic for the PS4...why are they so expensive ;_;
ikiryou avatarikiryou
Went to play MGSV, got prompted to download the MGO data; it's not on the PS Store yet. Or maybe it's Kojima-san's way of telling me it's not the real MGO data, but is instead a janitor who once protected me from a puddle of pee and now wears my face.
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
Going grey >>>>>>>>>>> Going bald
Rudorlf avatarRudorlf
Recently watched the Cannon Films documentary, by the director of Not Quite Hollywood. Super entertaining, hilarious, and it almost made me want to watch some of the Cannon films. Almost.
CaimDark Reloaded avatarCaimDark Reloaded
PEOPLE! PEOPLE! PEOPLE! Tomorrow I'm meeting Shade of Light in RL!
able to think avatarable to think
Tip for those who have plasma TVs and are playing MGSV; go into settings and make the weapon icon only appears when you're aiming. I had to buy a new TV because the weapon icon got permanently burned into my plasma.
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
Any of you cute little butts gonna be at London Comic Con?
Jiraya avatarJiraya
You felt your sins crawling on your back... [youtube][/youtube]
Halflocke avatarHalflocke
what was the first game that used crowd motivated you to contribute ?
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
Mad Max, Critters and some The life and times of Tim to finish the night. T'was a good day.
techsupport avatartechsupport
I was excited to learn one of my favorite Philip K. Dick novels, The Man in the High Castle, would be receiving its own TV show. After watching the pilot, I'm cautiously optimistic. Looking forward to the rest in November.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
I'm going to be honest; this is my new favourite line in anything ever. GOTY 2015 and all that. Also cocks: [img][/img]
I thought Laura Kate's Destiny piece for Polygon was pretty neat.
Barry Kelly avatarBarry Kelly
Bungie have decided Kojima isn't the only one who can do 4th wall breaking shenanigans. Congratulations Destiny players, you're all now The Taken King.
I have (jokingly) wanted a remake/sequel to Geist. And then I went to YouTube to watch a longplay to see it in action again and thought, "nevermind!"
The humblest person I know avatarThe humblest person I know
I'd been worried that Jim had been losing his sanity with all the Steam sludge he's always attacking. If you've been feeling the same way, good news. His new vid warmed that void and reminded me that I follow him because he had no sanity to start with. ;)
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
Reading the Star Citizen expose reminded me of the whole Firefall mess last year. [url=""]Found the gamefront article [/url]
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
I went from listening to the soundtrack of SMT IV, to the soundtrack to Mario Kart 8, Smash 4, Fire Emblem, and now chilling with some Mother 3. All of it was pretty awesome by the way.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
After the 11th, I'm going into cryosleep until SMT IV Final is out. I'm sure Mike, Occams and Strider can manage without me. [img][/img]
TheLimoMaker avatarTheLimoMaker
In need of another writer for my monthly blog on the PS Plus games. Given how nobody really reviews all of them (and after spending time downloading bad ones), I thought it'd be a nice time to try and do it for the PS users out there. So... Need some help
more quickposts


destructoid's previous coverage:
Anno Online

  Jul 16

Review: Anno Online

Simple city building

  Jun 13

Anno Online is giving out some free currency for E3

Use them to attempt to satisfy citizens that will never love or respect you

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!


Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -