The Anno series gained prominence with last year's
well-received Anno 207, and Ubisoft / Blue Byte hopes to build on that
momentum with Anno Online, a free-to-play return to the series' late
medieval roots. Guilds, production chains, and trading are distinctly
Hanseatic (and by extension, German) concepts at their root, so it was
only fitting that Blue Byte's Christopher Schmitz unveiled the project
at gamescom 2012, held this week in Cologne, Germany. Which is not
exactly on the Baltic coast, but close enough.
"This is not a simplified or casual version," Schmitz
explained, touting the screenshots that hold up extremely well against
the last iteration of the Anno series, Anno 1404. Which is all the more
impressive given that Anno Online is a browser based game, one of a
spate of free-to-play browser games (including Might & Magic
Heroes Online and Silent Hunter Online) unveiled by Ubisoft at
Since screen sprawl tends to be tighter in a browser, Schmitz
explained that optimizing the UI was essential. Gone are the minimap
and (apparently) the notifications bar in favor of a more minimalist,
dynamic interface that's nonetheless very reminiscent of Anno 1470 in
style and function.
Given the archipellagic nature of the Anno series, you might
think that a minimap would be missed. However, from what we saw in the
demo, each island is its own instance. Players must send out ships to
discover and trade with other islands, and these islands may or may not
be already inhabited. Over time a player can build an island empire.
Given the trademark wide variety of resources needed, not to mention
resource scarcity, of the Anno series, the stage is set for
confrontation, but also for trade and cooperation. To that end, Schmitz
explained that players can form guilds and work towards server-wide
objectives... or rip each other apart - the choice is yours.
Ubisoft's Odele Limpach explained that, given the influx of
new players Anno Online is likely to draw, accessibility is as
important as authenticity. She described an extensive tutorial system
which we weren't able to see in the demo, but here's hoping Anno Online
can dodge the grindy early game of its spiritual counterpart, Age of
Empires Online. It will certainly dodge much of the cartoonishness of
both Anno 1470 and AoEO.
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Anno Online Game Page.