The latest instalment in the Anno series moves the game further into the future, but does it move forwards in terms of gameplay? The basics of the game are pretty much the same, you build houses to build up a population to generate you money, and you also need to produce consumables for your population increasing the amount of money they generate and allowing them to progress. You still need to produce power to keep all your buildings working just like in 2070, but the ecobalance system has been removed completely. Early game energy generation is much the same as 2070 with wind farms and wave generators being your main source of power, later on in the game you get to build fusion power plants on the moon and transfer the power to other sessions on earth much like the deep ocean dlc in 2070.
The biggest change to the game is the use of sessions, what you end up with is a series of sessions which each contain a map in one of the three areas (temperate, tundra, moon). The maps contain fewer islands than in previous anno games, but the areas are larger so you don’t feel clustered. Transport units are also gone, the transportation system has been simplified in that you simply choose which product you want to transport, which sector it’s coming from, where it’s going and how much you want to send. No more ships and balancing multiple islands and resource requirements, it’s all handled by the game.
As mentioned above, there are three areas available, temperate, which is the usual green grasses and mountains, basically the same as 2070, Arctic and moon, which as you’ve probably guessed is set in the Arctic and on the moon. The gameplay is pretty much the same in these new areas, but with one major change, which sort of replaces the loss of the ecobalance system. In the Arctic environment your factories produce heat in a radius around themselves; your houses must be built within a heated area. On the moon, you must build everything within the protection of a shield generator to protect the buildings from asteroid strikes. The heat system in the tundra is very nice addition in my opinion, it restricts you in a different way to previous anno games as you’re housing and production must be built together.
Another reasonably large change is the removal of the construction areas, in 2070 you could only build your houses within the range of a city centre and production buildings had to be built within the range of depot. This is now gone, and you can place any building anywhere on the map right from the get go. The only stipulation is that the building must be connected to a road which is connected to your warehouse. The island based transport units that picked up goods have also been tweaked, now you have a session wide transport count, the further a production building is from either your warehouse or a transport centre, the higher the transport cost of the building. In addition to this construction change, production buildings can now be upgraded with modules by using the rare materials which can be collected by doing missions or entering combat zones. The modules available can boost production, reduce manpower cost, reduce energy cost, reduce transport costs and energy generating buildings have a module which cuts down maintenance costs.
Combat is now conducted in a designated area/map now, you have a fleet of ships and your mission is usually just capture some points, with the difficulty level changing how many points you need to capture. It’s pretty boring and feels like it was just tagged on at the end, the only reason for really doing the missions, apart from to progress the storyline, is to get the rare materials.
Balancing of resource production has also been simplified, you no longer have to watch the amount of resources available and frantically build more when it starts dropping, you’re now presented with a menu bar that shows every resource and whether it’s increasing or decreasing. If it’s negative you simply build more factories until the value becomes 0 or positive. This takes away some of the classic anno gameplay and oversimplifies things too much.
Story wise, both Anno 1404 and 2070 had a reasonable story led campaign that gave quite a lot of playtime. 2205 however feels just like a continuous game from 2070 with a few scraps of a storyline shoved in afterwards. You’re basically a new corporation, and you have to build it up to be better than the other corporations, through doing this you’ll unlock the other environments with travelling to the moon being the sort of end-game story goal. After that you’re just left to keep building, unlock other sessions in the various environments and that’s it. There’s not even any research stuff like in 2070 to put your time and resources into. Completing the main storyline doesn’t even take that long.
The graphics look very good again, whether they’re actually any better than 2070 is hard to say, detail when zoomed in is increased a bit with more going on in buildings, the heat shimmer from factories in the arctic and the shield strikes on the moon look great though, and these areas are where the best changes from previous games are found. The soundtrack works well with the game again; much like 2070 it makes for enjoyable listening in and out of the game.
Overall, there are some nice improvements over 2070, the extra prettiness of the graphics and the heat/shield building restrictions, but overall, a lot of the changes feel like they’ve over simplified the game to the point where it gets hard to come back to once you’ve reached space and unlocked all the buildings. I can’t see myself putting much more time into 2205 but I can easily see myself going back to 2070 to continue some of the continuous games that I started at least two years ago. There is some DLC planned for 2205, both free and paid for, which will add new sessions and new environments, but I don’t really see these improving the game, as it’s the basic fundamentals of the game that have made it boring rather than the environments. I was rather disappointed after spending £50 on the collector’s edition, I’ve had much more value out of the £20 collector’s edition of 2070 and 2205 hasn’t justified the extra cost so far.