Root Awakening in Anno Online
Recollecting basic supplies for life, milling masses and comfortably building
Easy living has come to an end! Put away your freezing coke and imagine you getting up at 5am. Not for gaming, but for putting your farmer’s boots on, milking your livestock and building your house with own cut wood. Welcome to the Middle Age, welcome to Anno Online!
Developed by Blue Byte Studios and published by Ubisoft, free-to-play flash PvE Anno Online is the first browser version of the famous ‘Anno’ series. Those who became addicted to PC version will easily recognize a similar playing system and working processes. As shown in the launch trailer, the game is based on populate lands, build an economic system and establish trading relations.
What’s it all about? Mainly, Anno Online is played the same way the “original” Anno´s were: We build farmhouses, woodcutter huts, market squares… but if we are misleading, game needs only 5 seconds to urge us to connect them all for our resident’s well-being and satisfaction. And this is all the action we will get in the game; AO feels like driving with applied handbrake, as releasing it would require to invest a lot of money. In the beginning it doesn´t take any effort, because you are guided by missions to expand your village. But, as in real life, things get more complicated the more responsibility you are charged in. To build farmhouses you need wood, that needs to be cut by woodcutters, who need to drink milk and eat bread while for its production in a mill you need to work loads of wheat fields and to run a bakery, etc… Fortunately, you can move and refit built houses later. Once you spent your money and materials, you’ll have to wait. Patience is the key.
Higher levels: aristocratic houses, tournament places, emperor’s cathedral, streets paved with flagstones
Time is money: Further, you need to calculate talent to manage resources and spend coins wisely. If not, you’ll be urged to buy additional items or you’ll have to WAIT… AND PAY… In some cases up to 1 day and a high quantity of items to unblock the fog-covered parts of the island to continue the game. 1 DAY! If you don’t want to wait, for “only” 57€ you get the completely fog-free island. You better calculate twice before buying items, when the alternative is waiting. Once again, it´s like in real life: Building a house is cheaper but requires a looooot of time, while buying a prebuilt house is more expensive, but faster and more comfortable. In conclusion, logical thinking is indispensable: If the cider brewery needs 2 minutes to produce 1 cider, while apple farm needs 4 minutes to deliver apples, you logically need twice as much apple farms as cider breweries. Pure economy! To prevent bottlenecks you need a good planned strategy for the automatically overnight processing of workshops and farms. You can increase efficiency of your production halls, and also satisfy your employees with fried fish and sweets.
Gameplay: While playing Anno Online you might feel alone because, despite of the “Online”, there is no interactive playing. PvE Mode consists in defending your islands against pirates who try to steal materials. With three types of war ships, you can attack the intruders and scuttle their ships. In fact, these are the only military elements you’ll find in AO. As the game is still under development, currently there is no PvP Mode available, but there are debates about it.
Actually, at higher Levels you and other players can join to form guilds with a maximum of 25 members to build islands and monuments together, organizing it; you also can use private chat rooms. Game currently ends up at level 60- according to calculations, being a 24/7 gamer you’ll need two years to reach this.
Your caravel (left) and the pirate’s caravel (right) front side and backside
Community: At lower levels, you’ll have to use the game chat room so frequently it’ll make you feel like entering in a family reunion: they cuddle, they help, they tease each other… Both at lower and higher levels you are invited to join it, as this game has a big and active community, also in their official forums. You are always accompanied, but nearly never depending on others. Individuality is the outstanding point of AO: nobody else ever will have the same estates as you; your land properties are the unique product of your creativity. Be proud of them!
Bird’s eye view: AO graphics are outstanding. High resolution permits both an overview of the island and a detailed view with a nine times zoom (with mouse wheel). It enables you to watch farmers pushing wheelbarrows, people nattering, goats grazing, stonemason lifting hammer… even smoke coming out of tradesmen’s houses chimneys. Saturated colours accentuate variety of graphic elements, where lush green forests and sandy shores end, come up fishes dancing in crystal-clear water. It’s that colourful and idyllic, it doesn’t looks like dark Middle Age. The 3D and flash graphics make it more vivid, like green arrows floating above farmer’s houses that need to be upgraded to tradesmen’s houses.
Anno Online is absolutely worth playing! It supports our self-thinking and self-solving problems. This slow down version feels like an urgent need and overdue exercise to calm down in fast-moving, overloaded 21th Century times. Beware- according to “Annoholics”, as they call themselves, users in forum detect addiction if you are trying despairingly to move Google Maps with right mouse button.
The fact that we didn’t even moved 2m from our chairs while gaming means we are not in the Middle Age. So enjoy the game and your coke!