Eco Worrier: Hands On With Anno 2070

By Jim Rossignol on November 3rd, 2011 at 9:27 pm.

The fiction works! The world is all sea.
Blue Byte’s futuristic take on their competitive trading and town-building series, Anno 2070, is just a couple of weeks away, and I’ve had a chance to play with some of the sandbox elements of the game to get a taste of it. Head below for some thoughts on this near-future near-strategy! Or don’t. YOU DECIDE.

Those of you familiar with Anno 1404 – handsome, golden beasts with the sun in your smile – will already know much of what to expect from 2070. It is very similar indeed to 1404. For the rest of you, I can say that this is one of the gentler, more compulsive resource-managing games you will find nestled in the warm bits of the internet. While there is violent conflict in parts – limited generally to coastal defences and ship-to-ship battles – this is basically a game about colonising an archipelago as you compete with human or AI players. [And I should say, as a side-observation at this point, that the story works very well - global warming has turned the whole world in a watery series of islands!] It is not SimMedievalMerchant, but nor is it quite like any real-time strategy you might care to mention. It is, however, quite methodical, quite clinical, quite uh Teutonic.


So yes, a full campaign will grace the final game, teaching you the ropes and telling the story of the two sides in this eco-war – basically the wind and sea lovin’ Greens and the Old School Oil-burning Capitalists – but I got to taste the “continuous” mode, basically an open-ended set of maps for you to play through at your leisure, and without the pressure of overbearing objectives beyond those you accept from the NPC characters, or set for yourself. There will also be single-mission scenarios in which you are able to compete for quite specific objectives.

Anyway, the core of 2070 is your Ark, which is a giant submersible that turns into an offshore base. Your key ship is produced there, and emergency supplies can be helicoptered in to it if you have the cash. For a game about saving the world (or destroying it) after massive global warming, both parties sure are keen on colonising the virgin archipelagos that you discover – and something cringed in me as I noticed the future world map on the loading screen had the /wrong bits/ flooded – but anyway: building a settlement is the plan, and getting on with that can be a tricky challenge. The way building works in Anno means that your expansion is tightly limited, and it’s easy to get yourself into trouble if you’re not careful about what you put down. Getting your population up is the most important part, but it’s not as important as avoiding be stymied by a lack of specific resources. As in Anno 1404 I did find myself staring a large settlement waiting to see what happens next, thanks to a single resource being slow to produce. Hmm. Odd memory to have, that one. Not one of my treasured ones, I must say.


So yes, thoughts: I’ve not seen enough of the game to really make any deep judgements on either its scope (I’ve yet to see the underwater stuff) or to say whether this is a better game than 1404. It’s certainly has some character of its own – the world is lavish, and the animations are just lovely. Lots of little flying machines whizz about your islands delivering stuff, and zooming in on the individual houses allows you to see people wandering about in the streets and relaxing on balconies. There’s even a logging robot which is like an arboreal version of the exoskeleton Ripley wears at the end of aliens, quietly chopping down trees and taking them to be processed. Lovely, lovely.

The best touch I’ve seen so far, however, is the shop that turns up. A converted aircraft carrier covered in casino neon, tents, balloons, cranes, and fairy lights. Brilliant.


Browsing the other bits of Anno 2070 that I haven’t been able to play from this preview code – various scenarious and missions, the campaign, the fact that there are two competing factions, as well as all the other general options and scene-setting data – I have to say that I am excited. The game looks just as I had expected. It’s a kind game, without too much harshness, but with a definite challenge and the chance of danger and failure. My only worries are the voice of the tutorial AI – shut up! – and the few rough edges that appear in this preview code. Hoping the release isn’t going to be begging a patch when it hits. In short: I am looking forward to cracking on with the full thing.

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65 Comments »

  1. Smashbox says:

    Wow – I really hope this is all its cracked up to be. And has a free-form sandbox mode.

  2. HexagonalBolts says:

    I know the setting is completely different, but the pictures look so painfully identical to previous iterations of Anno that I’m concerned it’ll just be primarily the same game bar a few minor mechanic changes…

    • Bostec says:

      I’m playing Anno 1404 now and yes it does look same in the pictures, it looks like they have just changed the tileset or something, I was hoping for a little more shake up.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      It’s very similar, so far. But there’s a bunch of stuff I’ve not looked at.

    • Aaarrrggghhh says:

      Of course the mechanics etc are basically the same but some of the mechanics have chagned, new have been added, there are new/different ressources, production chains, you have to balance your energy production and pulution etc pp. So it still looks like an Anno and plays like one but it doesn’t feel as if you have already played it before. There is plenty of new stuff to explore, learn and master ;)

    • AdrianWerner says:

      Well, it is Anno, but it’s also very different from previous games in the series. Actually, it’s the first Anno that actually shakes it up. The three factions avaible for player all at the same time coupled with ecology mechanics is a huge game changer. There are more resources this time andf they’re not all just different icons. Taking care of electricity doesn’t resemble anything we had to do previously. For the first time we will be able to build on the bottom of the sea, the Ark mechanics are fresh too. The scale is realistic this time. For the first time there’s actually a full features multiplayer mode (the one in Venice was seriously lol). Blue Byte has also used the chances SF settings gives by adding ton of cool orignal ideas. For example: you can build huge TV screens in your cities and then air different vidoes of them that have different effects on your citiens’s behaviour.

      So yes, it is still Anno in a way that it’s a peaceful city-builder, but it has huge ammount of changes and additions to the formula. So if somebody tells you “it’s more of the same” it means they have no idea what they’re talking about

  3. Inigo says:

    The way building works in Anno means that your expansion is tightly limited, and it’s easy to get yourself into trouble if you’re not careful about what you put down.

    B-but I wanted nature-raping urban spraaaaaaawl.
    It’s not faaaaaair.

  4. Yorick says:

    Anno 1404 was an excellent game that I sank many hours into.

    It did however have quite a few show-stopper (as in hard crash) bugs even at the end of its patching lifetime, and was even messier at release… Here’s hoping Blue Byte can get 2070 stable.

  5. Voight-kampff says:

    I’m considering pre-ordering this. Sci-Fi city-builders are so few and far between. I’m hoping this lives up to it’s petential. After the mess that was “Men of War: Vietnam” I’m a little scared of pre-ordering. :P

  6. Tams80 says:

    Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?

  7. mwoody says:

    My problem with 1404 was that co-op didn’t let you pause-and-look-around, but pausing was the only way I could compete with difficult enemies in single player, so we’d get railroaded. That and I couldn’t make myself care about the campaign, but then, the varied and randomly generated skirmish scenarios more than made up for that. I look on this release with interest.

    • battles_atlas says:

      I hate Anno for this. I really enjoy playing it until the later stages when you have these huge supply changes and ever greater demand. If I could pause and issue orders (in single player, forget MP) then it would be fine, but it just morphs from an enjoyable building game to this horribly stressful logistics manager.

  8. PatrickSwayze says:

    Can anyone spell AGENDA?

    Why do the capitalists get portrayed as heartless polluting entrepreneurs?

    Why is it nobody suspects the tree huggers of trying to make a quick buck or two…

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Because capitalists are known for their care for the environment and tree huggers for their love of money?

    • jalf says:

      because the tree huggers aren’t actually *making* a quick buck or two. In order to be seriously suspected of cruelly and cynically abusing [X] in order to make money, you need to actually make money.

    • battles_atlas says:

      Also capitalism is heartless. That’s the point. You might as well say ‘why is racism always portrayed as racist?’

  9. ArgonautPollux says:

    So where did all the water come from again? Did a giant ice rock hit the Earth? Even if every single piece of ice on the planet melted, the seas would only rise a few hundred feet.

    Globally speaking, and without talking about current human settlements, that’s still A LOT of land left.

    • Aaarrrggghhh says:

      How exactly did the Koreans overrun the US in Homefront again?

    • ArgonautPollux says:

      This is scientific fact. Barring strikes from space (again), there will never be MORE water on Earth. That game was geopolitics. Unlikely, but based on human decisions that cannot be foreseen.

    • Resin says:

      I think all the mountain tops were removed and dumped in the sea……by Kevin Costner….

    • Christian O. says:

      The earth shrunk.

      Particular accelerators spontaneously transmutated all copies of the IKEA catalog into water.

      It rained really hard from space one night.

    • Tams80 says:

      Space rain. The best type of rain. The only thing that will draw me away from an IKEA breakfast.

    • ChiefOfBeef says:

      If anyone has been watching Frozen Planet, Attenbrough said in the first episode that 80% of the Earth’s fresh water is locked up in the polar ice caps. This does not include the salt water which makes up the oceans, but it is still a lot of water.

      I Googled ‘Earth sea water volume’ and a Wikipedia page on oceans was high up. It cited the 2003 book The Physics Factbook as a source that the volume of the Earth’s oceans is 1.37 billion cubic kilometres. This is the liquid water.

      However, ice which is already in the water is already making the sea level rise as much as it already would anyway. If it’s floating freely, it is displacing the equivalent of it’s weight. If it’s partly submerged but not floating freely, it is displacing it’s volume. If any of the ice in either of these two circumstances melt, they will not increase the sea level.

      So how much of the polar ice is not displacing water? The Wiki article says 3% of Earth’s water is fresh water and the rest is salt water in the oceans, but doesn’t specify if the 3% includes the polar ice or just liquid water. The most useful thing I found was this http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/earth/geophysics/question473.htm .

      The US Environmental Protection Agency is cited for the rise in sea levels over the past century being 6 to 8 inches. If the ice of the Antarctic continent melted completely sea levels would rise 61 metres/200 feet but this is extremely unlikely because in most places it never gets anywhere near to above freezing point. Arctic sea ice would not raise sea levels because it’s floating on the sea already, but Greenland has enough ice on the land that if that melted it would raise sea levels by 7 metres/20 feet and this is more likely than the Antarctic ice melting.

      Projections are bad enough that it would cause problems for coastal cities and places below sea level, but to bury continents would require the Antarctic to melt and that is *extremely* unlikely without a sci-fi explanation.

    • Tams80 says:

      To sum up what ChiefOfBeef was typed:

      In terms of melting ice causing sea levels to rise; only the melting of land ice will cause sea levels to rise as sea ice displaces the same volume as it would if it were water. Very little water is stored as ice on land.

      Of course there are other factors such as thermal expansion.

    • Mctittles says:

      Has anyone ever had a drink with ice cubes in it before?

    • Rii says:

      Stephen Baxter’s recent novel Flood concerns a global flooding event that by 2052 covers Mt. Everest. The mechanism the novel proposes for these events is the welling up of vast quantities of previously subterranean water from the seabed. In the afterword Baxter notes the following sources he draws upon in support of this, which I present without comment:

      “Meanwhile there is some evidence that the mantle, the deep rock layers of Earth’s structure, may indeed contain lodes of water that would dwarf the existing oceans (see A.B. Thompson, ‘Water in the Earth’s Upper Mantle’, Nature, vol. 358, pp 295-302, 1992). Recently two American scientists have claimed from the evidence of seismic waves to have discovered an ocean locked in the porous rocks deep beneath Beijing (New Scientist, 10 March 2007), while scientists from Tokyo have observed the dragging-down of water at subduction zones (Science, 8 June 2007). New theories showing how worlds even close to their parent stars could form with immense lodes of water were reported at the 37th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference held in Texas in March 2006.”

      Also reported in the novel and of relevance to this discussion is the rapidly-eclipsed IPCC worst-case scenario of a sea-level rise of 70m, that level representing the melting of all presently frozen water on Earth.

    • Joshua says:

      Water does have this tendency to expand while hot – like any other material. Thing is – When it gets too hot, water might actually escape from the stratosphere, so there would be less water (although it really has to be pretty damn hot for that to happen).

      However, this is a game which, unlike Fate of the World, does not (have to) try to be scientifically accurate.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Urg. A sci-fi book that feels the need to justify itself with scientific research in the afterword? “Hello reader, by the way, if you were unconvinced by the novel you just read, think again! Here be facts!”

      Sorry. That just triggered the snooty enzymes in my frontal writer’s cortex.

    • Rii says:

      @Lenny

      Well Baxter is primarily known for writing Hard SF whereas this is more on the eyebrow-raising side. So I guess it’s a HAY GUYS NO I DIDN’T SELL OUT TO HOLLYWOOD thing.

    • jalf says:

      Very little water is stored as ice on land.

      You may have heard of a place called the antarctic?

      Do you think you can guess at why it is considered a continent? Hint: It has something to do with land vs. not-land.

      There’s a lot of ice there.

      Greenland has a fair bit of ice too, despite its name.

      That is all.

  10. TParis says:

    ANNO was NEVER BlueByte’s series, they are just helping out. Related Designs is the main developer.

    • AdrianWerner says:

      Not on Anno 2070. Blue Byte is the lead team here, while Related only helps. Rumors are Related themselves are already busy working on more traditional Anno on new engine (2070 uses upgraded 1404 engine)

    • Kakrafoon says:

      No, you’re wrong there. Anno 2070 is developed entirely by Related Designs, while Blue Byte chips in with some QA and a lot of Brouhaha for the press.

    • BurningPet says:

      I dont know who’s in charge of what, but somebody has to get shot for those idiotic “click the drunken guy” or “click the runaway nun” missions in the campaign.

    • UnravThreads says:

      The way it works is Related Designs are the developer, Blue Byte are the producer (And I suppose they help with some aspects of development, QA, testing, marketing, etc.) and finally Ubisoft are the publisher.

    • AdrianWerner says:

      Weird, that’s not what they told during the annoucement event and I asked specifically for this.

  11. Zelius says:

    I’m curious about you saying the wrong parts of the world are flooded in the game. Which parts are?

  12. Gunsmith says:

    I loved 1404 and even if it is a skin job, take my money already damnit!

    2 weeks, until then I have only trailers to entertain myself with, cant remember the last time I was looking forward to a game this much. actually I can it was UT99

  13. c-Row says:

    Well, so much for the NO MORE OCEANS campaign.

  14. Ragabhava says:

    Native english speakers please help me out: where’s the voice over guy from ? To me he sounds like a chinese who learnt english in th US.

  15. free keno says:

    Personally, I’m not considering pre-ordering this game. I already got the opportunity to try a shot to the previous opus and i wasn’t convinced at all…

  16. Xaromir says:

    They only choose a futuristic setting to get a better grip on the US market, because they think sci-fi will sell better there, but they disappointment much of the hard core fan base. They made it sci-fi and i’m not buying it, besides that i find it very ugly, the houses are also harder to tell apart, and i they didn’t make a particularly big effort to port it into the future, you can’t even ship send stuff in a plane, boats only – in the fucking future! Wtf?

    • Timmytoby says:

      you can’t even ship send stuff in a plane, boats only – in the fucking future! Wtf?

      That’s not very unusual for Sci Fi in a near-future setting.
      Since the worldwide air infrastructure relies almost entirely on oil and fossile fuels will be too expensive to waste on air-travel, it’s a very common theme in many sci fi novels to point out how vast distances suddenly are without a gazillion gallons of cheap kerosene to waste.

      A few good examples:
      The Windup Girl – Huge Zeppelins with gigantic windup propellers are the only remaining aircraft and still extremly slow.
      Ready Player One – Only the insanley rich (think Bill Gates) can afford airtravel.
      The Postmortal – airtravel completely shuts down until a solar-powered plane is invented decades later.

      It would be more surprising to see aircraft in the game, not to mention actual spacecraft.

  17. Squirrelfanatic says:

    “As in Anno 1404 I did find myself staring a large settlement waiting to see what happens next, thanks to a single resource being slow to produce. Hmm. Odd memory to have, that one. Not one of my treasured ones, I must say.”

    At first, I made similar experiences, but after getting into the game a bit deeper, this happens less and less frequently.

    - Most of the time you can increase the speed of production by building multiple production sites. This might increase your expenses dramatically for a short time, but after that, you can always put these building into “slumber” mode which lowers maintenance costs.
    - Often, you can buy goods not available to you on your island from other players.
    - Finally, you can always increase the game speed until you have passed a production bottle neck.

    These things tend to happen, it’s just that you don’t have to stare at them. :)

  18. Squirrelfanatic says:

    Edit: Double post is double.

  19. Wilson says:

    I’m curious about whether you have to play a bit of both factions to get the resources you’ll need (as with the last game) or whether you can or have to pick one side.

  20. MythArcana says:

    Please don’t screw this up. Please don’t screw this up. Please don’t screw this up…

  21. pupsikaso says:

    I tried the demo and liked it, but my main concern is ubiDRM. Now I know that many features are obviously locked out in the demo, but the waythey were locked out is what concerns me. Every feature that was locked out had a message when you hovered your mouse over it saying something along the lines of:
    “This feature is not available in offline mode. It will become available again as soon as your internet connection restores”.
    Which leads me to believe that this game might be using the always-online ubiDRM? Does anyone know if that’s the case?

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