Anno Online Review – Finally Real Strategy in an Empire Builder

By Remko Molenaar (Proxzor), OnRPG Journalist

ANNO Online Review

It is no real secret that I have a soft spot for strategy and simulation games, and being a fan of the Anno series, I was actually really happy when I heard about the upcoming Anno Online. The past years have been a kind of renaissance age of strategy titles going massively online and after one clone too many it’s good to see high quality names like Ubisoft throwing their name into the ring. I was among the first to test out Anno Online in this early state. I jumped into the game eager to see if innovation had finally arrived in this typically cut and paste empire building genre.

ANNO Online Port Management

Now don’t confuse my eagerness for being overly optimistic. I know better than most of the cash shop heavy drivel that clones Evony in this realm of gaming again and again. Of the near endless wait times waiting at end-game for those who think they will play free forever. Not to mention the sheer lack of strategy or depth that comes with the territory.  But when I caught the first glimpse of Anno Online most of these fears completely disappeared. Anno Online not only looked fantastic but would stay true to the one strength the genre has right, being a free-to-play MMORTS that can be played on almost any computer in the house. In Anno, your goal is to get a gigantic empire by satisfying your citizens and working the land for resources. In your medieval city, you are the one to do it all. In most MMORTS games the game itself is very limited, build this and that and you’re already done with your first city, castle or whatever your starting land is. In Anno Online however, you won’t be done so quickly. In fact the surrounding s of your island matter a great deal and there is a learning curve that players who don’t do their research or properly plan their city layout may lack the sophistication in their city that more prepared and experienced players have accomplished.

ANNO Online City Placement

From the moment you have been given your grant of land, you will have to start your town from absolutely nothing but a harbor. There’s no cut and dry tutorial telling you to build X on Y; the freedom is yours to do as you see fit. Your first goal is to hark in enough citizens to acquire the first few goals that can definitely help you out in enlarging your empire early on. In Anno Online, you will actually have to wait for people to move into your little village; this involves making your town attractive for would be settlers or else the trickle of new population will drive you mad. As I said before, you really have to work with what you’re given because every citizen asks for something. Let it either be security, food or an occupation, the demands are various and must be monitored and met when reasonable. Since I was close to water, and had a forest nearby my place, I decided to get myself rich with food and wood planks, ensuring I could feed a large population that then could effectively use up my lumber to continue building new houses and other construction projects.

ANNO Online Midgame

Luckily helpful notices make micromanagement not overbearing on the fun. You will be notified if you’re slacking on something such as your warehouse hitting max capacity or your town lacking a needed resource. The buildings will show this with an exclamation mark so you know what has to be changed in your little village. Unfortunately since I was enjoying building my resource acquirement facilities, my warehouses couldn’t keep up with storage needs. This is where I discovered a vital strategy decision lacking in this genre. You can your facilities the day off and let them sleep so you can stop the inflow of too many resources, lowering the running costs as a result. There is another thing to consider when placing your facilities on your land. When you place them too close to each other, they might interfere with the amount of resources they can bring in. You simply can’t just have two fishing huts side by side and expect them both to bring in the maximum haul of fish. Scattering each resource building is key. Knowing the space required for each building and preplanning your construction is vital to running a successful metropolis. Even though I have played many strategy games, I built without thinking and soon found vast levels of real estate inaccessible.

ANNO Online Island Expansion

On your island there’s a lot of different sectors, at first you start on a small piece of land that can keep you busy for a few days. But after a few days you will need to expand your empire and this can be done by exploring undiscovered sectors around you. These exploring missions take quite a while, so do not forget them because it can delay the process for becoming the almightiest of all empires.

When you have become a little more advanced and your city is running, you are ready to start upgrading everything to a high level. The leveling system in Anno Online is so well done graphically that it’s hard to believe it’s happening in the F2P empire building realm. For instance a simple residential house goes from a simple hut made of wood, to a building made from stone. And slowly you will see your empire grow from simple men into professional architects. And the money you were making a few days ago? It’s now flowing in tenfold from where you began.


ANNO Online Review Conclusion


Anno itself has always been a wonderful strategy series that always had a strong community behind itself. This new game hasn’t changed at all, from almost everything in the game to the community, everything remained the same and the game is definitely still as awesome as it used to be. With that said I also have to give credit to the men behind Anno Online that really made the first online strategy game that actually feels like a strategy game. I’ve seen hundreds of online strategy games but they all felt like they were missing the key elements to be even remotely close to what I am used to in B2P strategy games. Anno Online however offers the depth and consequences in every purchase and upgrade you choose. Oh you made this road here and you found out you don’t have enough space or you cannot upgrade the farm you have placed there? Well that is your own fault and you should’ve considered that before. That’s the thought process you need to have in a strategy game, and Anno Online really does this well.

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  • frusty

    this game is single player with only chat right now and very crappy
    trading one item at a time and it can take hours just to trade with one
    person so very not worth the time.

    they promise other features
    for multiplayer but this is the same company that promised pvp for one
    of their games and it’s been over 2 years and nothing so don’t expect
    anything new added for a long time

    not to mention people almost have reached the end game in 2-3 weeks before you could speed it up with money and there is nothing left to do as there is no endgame so it’s not worth staying around then