Anno Online – So You Like To Build Cities?



By Jordan Hall (ApocaRUFF), OnRPG Journalist

Anno Online is a f2p browser-based strategy game brought to us by Ubisoft. It's based on a popular series of RTS games of the same name. Designing cities, trading with others, and doing your best to grow your empire are all goals of the game. It seems like it should be a great game with many interesting features. Let’s see if Blue Byte has been able to capture the magic of the Anno games and put it into your browser within an MMO setting.

Customization

There aren't any real “characters” to customize in Anno Online, except for your avatar. Most customization comes from how you decide to design your cities and build your empire. That being said, you will basically be exactly the same as almost every other player. However, given the genre, this is OK in my opinion. Holding a lack of customization against an RTS game is like being angry at an FPS for not having any sandbox features – you can't really do it unless you're just being unreasonable.

Customization

Graphics

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised as it's 2013, but I have to admit that I was pretty happy with how good the graphics are for a browser-based game. I mean, sure, the graphics aren't much better than an RTS game you would find in the mid 2000's, but they're still good. Especially when you consider that you don't have to download a client or extra plugin to experience them. The world is beautiful in detail and the citizens of your city are all animated. I loved that I could watch my citizens go about their business and I am quite pleased with the graphics quality of Anno Online.

Anno Online Graphics

Controls

Being a browser-based RTS, a majority of the “control” in Anno Online centers around the mouse. From what I experienced, the mouse was always smooth and the UI was as responsive as you could want. The few keybindings I made use of worked very well, too. There were a few times that I had a bit of lag, but I believe it was an issue on my side. I've had no real negative experiences with the controls. I'm glad that all the pleasantries of a client-based game have been incorporated into the browser, so there isn't much to want for.

Community

Being developed and published by a big publisher, combined with the already well-known Anno name, the community for this game isn't hurting. The global chat is always moving and questions are often answered very quickly. If you're having issues, be they game or technical issues, you will generally meet a helpful response when you ask for help. Occasionally you'll run into the odd troll, but they haven't been an issue for me yet. Overall the community in Anno Online is of a healthy size while still remaining helpful.

Gameplay

Gameplay in Anno Online revolves around your standard progression that you will find in most RTS games. You start with nothing and follow the tutorial to get a jump start from rewards. You then develop your city, balancing production with citizen happiness. As you continue along, more and more buildings and features will be unlocked. If you've played a modern RTS in the last three years, this won’t be anything new to you, but you will appreciate how smoothly everything works.

As you play, you gain access to new types of buildings and designs. What might start as a small fishing village can grow into a bustling town that spans across a whole island. The drive to play the game comes from wanting to expand your empire even further, being as efficient as possible with your city designs to optimize production and trade. Trade happens on many different scales. There is trade within a city, trade with other cities, and even trade with other players. Economic success is the true name of the game, and just about everything you do will be towards that goal.

Anno Online New City

After a while, you might get tired of designing cities and directing your empire. To make things more interesting, more than a few interesting features that will add a bit of change have been added. An example of this is treasure hunters. You can have ships built and man them with a treasure hunter and send them off to find you goodies. It seems like these rewards can be anything and everything so there is a chance to strike it rich. It is little things like this that help change things up and keep it from getting boring.

ANNO Online Ships

Level progression is a thing, but it seems to mostly pertain with unlocking certain features. It acts as more of a show of how far along you've gotten than anything else, which is fine. The cash shop, which uses a currency called “rubies” seems like it will be pretty pay-to-win. That is just an early assessment, though. While it will certainly give you an advantage if you use rubies, I haven't been able to tell if that advantage will actually be any good against other players or not. Another thing worth mentioning is that it is possible to unlock new hats, titles and other customizations through various means.

Anno Online cash shop Rubies

Conclusion

Anno Online appears to be a very solid MMORTS. I enjoy the idea that my city lives on and trade continues when I log off, as it's nice to log on each day to see how far your economy has progressed in your absence. It adds a lot more fun to the goal of building an efficient city and trade economy. If I had one gripe, it would be that player interaction doesn't seem to be as big as it should, especially in the early game. I also want to mention that the game has some superb music that really fits the setting. Often, I will mute the music of a game and listen to my own playlist, which is something I didn't do with Anno Online. All-in-all, my time was well spent in Anno Online and I had a great deal of fun playing. Check it out if you are a fan of the city-building and RTS genres!

Features: 3/5

Customization: 3/5

Graphics: 3/5

Controls: 5/5

Community: 5/5

Overall: 4/5 – A great RTS experience! But could use some improvement.

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