It’s Anno for your web browser!
Anno Online is essentially a web based F2P version of Anno 1404, it’s set in the same time period and uses a lot of the same buildings and core game mechanics. There is no combat in the game, the idea is to just satisfy your populations needs, through building of production facilities and shipping goods between islands. For a web based flash game, it looks very good, the textures are well detailed and the animations look good, this however does mean that it’s quite a resource heavy game, I see 25-35% CPU usage and 700MB of RAM usage while playing. It also means that it takes quite a long time to load initially, sometimes with you having to wait up to 5 minutes for it to fully load everything, it can also lag out quite badly sometimes. The game is still relatively new though, and with the regular updates and patches from the devs, it should hopefully get better and better.
As usual, the game includes micro-transactions, like Goodgame Empire (GGE), in the form of rubies. The cost of these is more than double that of the costs in GGE, and the price of items you can buy with rubies also seems more expensive. You do get a starting bonus of rubies, and levelling up will reward you with them too. A recent feature introduce is a ruby pit, which you use to convert uncut rubies into rubies, at a rate of 2:1, you’ll get uncut rubies from daily login bonuses, or buying them in game. As there isn’t really any competitive aspect to the game, the pay to play aspect is even less important than in GGE, as you won’t be at any disadvantage by playing for free, you might just have to put a bit more time into the game.
There are a few changes from Anno 1404, the first of which is the time progression in game, production of goods takes much longer than in 1404, the consumption of goods by the population is also matched to this time scale, so goods will last a lot longer than in 1404. This means that if your population is consuming more than you’re producing, you’ll have time to rectify this without the citizens becoming unhappy.
The tax system has also been removed, money is now generated based on the produce your population consumes, you still have an income indicator to show how whether you’re money will be going up or down.
One of the best features in my opinion, is the ability to move buildings after they’ve been constructed. In 1404, if you wanted to change the layout of your town, you’d have to delete buildings and rebuild, costing money and resources, in Anno Online however, you can move buildings around and alter your layout without having to remove anything. This is great, as you don’t have to worry about getting the most efficient layout to start with, as you can tweak things later on.
The social aspect of the game is a bit lacking, there’s a general chat box, a help chat box and you have a friends list. You can visit friends islands, and can apply boosts to their production buildings but that’s it as far as cooperative game play goes. There is also a guild system, but I haven’t get explored this aspect, so can’t say much about it, although from my reading, it would appear that all you get is a specific guild chat area and a tag next to your name. I would imagine that as the game progresses more features will be added to the guild system.
Anno Online is not without problems though, apart from the slightly laggy nature of the game. The shipping routes are the main issue, once a route is setup, you can’t alter the load or destination/origin of the route unless you cancel and recreate it, which takes time as the ship has to finish its current run and return to your main island. The most annoying point though, is that the maximum cargo capacity for a shipping route, is spread across both the outgoing and incoming voyage. So if your ship holds a total of 50 units, you can have either 25 in and 25 out, or 50 in and 0 out (and vice versa), which seems kind of pointless and counter intuitive. The point has been raised with the developers by many players it would seem, so hopefully this will get fixed at some point.
There’s not much more to say about Anno Online, it’s a very simple and easy to play management game, it doesn’t suck your spare time away as much as the fully fledged Anno games, but then it has been cut down to function better as a more casual game. If you like the Anno series, you’ll probably enjoy Anno Online, it allows you to get your fix of island development without having to dedicate several hours to the process.