Anno Online Now in Open Beta – Build! Build, I Say!
Recently I had a chance to check out the closed beta for Anno Online, the new free to play city building browser game from Ubisoft Blue Byte, and now you can too since the beta is now open for all to enjoy!
I started my game, admittedly a little skeptical. I’ve played Sim City. I’ve also played all the various free to play micro transaction based games like Farmville and other building sims on Facebook. So as I clicked into this world where I was to build my empire I was sort of expecting to get bored fairly quickly or be forced to make in game purchases. That was not what happened.
Right off the bat, Anno Online is different. There is a social element to the game that is missing from most others. There’s a chat, a place to add your friends, and even a trade channel where you can sell goods to other players. The player can visit their friend’s villages and cities as well so you can be jealous of all of the marvels they’ve built while you yourself still have a village with thatched huts that probably smells like sheep poo.
Once the player gets through the annoying and far too fast, yet necessary tutorial, the game really picks up. I say necessary because this isn’t a simply point and click sim where your actions will be guided constantly by the game. There are quite a few layers and nuances to the game that I have yet to figure out. I mean it took me forever just to make sure there were enough goats for my village, let alone trade routes, exploration and upgrades.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I present to you Apprentice Badpie. Because an avatar for any game is really one of the most important things to some people (admittedly me) it’s a good thing that Anno has a somewhat simple avatar builder that just happens to have a vast number of different facial combinations. You even get to choose a hat. I chose no hat. Screw hats.
Almost immediately a little friend shows up to offer you some advice on how to get your village thriving. Obviously you’ll need supplies like wood so you’ll need a lumberjack so you can build houses and populate your village. I like the idea of providing a home for a young married couple and then awkwardly telling them to populate the island (“Just pretend I’m not even here.”)
Once there are a few villagers making more villagers in your village your villagers will start to demand things like goat milk, a market and a chapel or something. You’ll have to give these to them so your village will grow into a township, and a parish, and a hootenany, and a sporfton. I may have made those last two up.
There is a definite strategy to the placement of your homes, warehouses, distribution things and what not since the radius surrounding any service or goods has to be small enough to encompass the homes there. Because obviously your little people can’t walk two extra blocks to go to church or purchase some wool. No wonder their life spans are like 37 years.
There is a lot of patience required to play this game and a lot of waiting for things to happen. Especially if you don’t want to speed things along with microtransactions. If you’d rather play for free this will require some sitting. And some waiting. This is good and bad. As a real time strategy game, I’m expecting to groan and whine when I find out I’m short on wood and can’t build the new warehouse I need. Because that shit takes forever. Truly. Watching even the lumberjack huts that are operating at 100% efficiency sloooowly add logs to your inventory can provide a standstill in gameplay for quite awhile unless you have the necessary rubies to purchase bundles of wood. But the waiting isn’t all bad. Anno is definitely a game where the player can set a few things in motion and then just sit back and let the minions do the work and watch the area thrive. Go make a sandwich, take a shower, clean the litter box, then come back to a bountiful pile of wood and rock.
If you don’t want to wait, the store is there waiting for you where you can purchase rubies and speed along your town’s development. And while it’s easily accessible, I never felt like the option to buy was shoved in my face as the only alternative.
The bottom line is, I’m having quite a bit of fun playing Anno Online and now you can try the beta too on the Anno Online site. If you register by May 21st you’ll receive a “mighty golden ship” with which to explore and conquer distant lands. There’s even community tasks you can take part in to win rubies.
Happy building everyone. And if you find yourself in Badpie24’s hood, let’s be super best friends.