My first impression of Anno 2205 was the game’s friendly announcer telling me that an unusually long playtime has been detected, accompanied by a small pop-up message suggesting I take a break since I’ve been playing for 2 hours. I double-checked my watch and indeed, two hours have gone by in what I’m certain was some evil corporate trick. I swear I only JUST sat down…

Anno 2205 is exactly that kind of game. It’s deep, engrossing and utterly time-consuming. You’ll sit down for an hour, maybe just to add another apartment complex, and before you know it you’ve built a trans-continental bridge, settled in the arctic circle and established a multitude of shipping routes, delivering all sorts of goods across your regions. Of course, you now need a few more workers in the other zones so just one more apartment complex and you’ll totally quit for the day. Definitely. And then the sun comes up and it’s apparently tomorrow and you still haven’t fully optimized the juice production process.

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Anno 2205 is, as I’m sure you guessed, the sequel to Anno 2070 and the series has gone full-blown Sci-Fi, with hovercars, nanobots and all the usual bells and whistles. Core gameplay remains the same, with corporations replacing the more traditional nations and empires. The world has been reduced and divided to shares by the massive corporations known as “The Big 5”. They de-facto rule the world and as you start the game, you are just a tiny company trying to get by and earn a buck or two.

At its core, Anno 2205 is all about micromanagement. You begin with nothing more than a parcel of land on one of Earth’s temperate regions and a dream to one day overtake even The Big 5. To do so you’ll build housing, factories, mines and farms – all working in perfect harmony to satisfy your citizens’ needs. Of course, productive citizens are happy citizens and you’ll spend the overwhelming majority of your time trying your hardest to get that extra percentage of efficiency out of your settlements. To reward you, when the needs of your population of workers are met they can be promoted to operators. Satisfy THEIR needs and they can become executives and even investors. This is what you’ll spend most of your time doing – vicariously climbing the corporate ladder from Joe Nobody to Joe Nobody, CEO.

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Workers are fairly simple, all they need is food on the table, drinkable water and an education before qualifying for operator status. Operators are more picky – they don’t care for plebian water, they want vitamin-rich juices among other things. Juice doesn’t grow on trees, though… you need fruit (which, I’m told, DOES grow on trees) and workers to plant and harvest said fruit before your first juice factory pumps out even one carton of vitamin-in-a-box. But more workers requires more food and water, maybe your power plant needs an upgrade, and the cycle continues.

With each new level your citizens will want more goods, some of which are a multi-tier productions chains. Furthermore, not all goods can be produced in your starting region. In fact, to become executives, operators need implants which can only be developed and produced by scientists all the way in the Arctic. Of course, scientists are much like juice – they also don’t grow on trees. Unlike juice, you can’t just liquefy them into a box and ship globally, so it’s off to the frozen arctic circle we go.

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Arctic outposts are drastically different from the temperate ones, of course. Your workers are going to die unless they can get dwellings near factories, as those emit the required amount of heat without which your people will freeze, not unlike a carton of sweet, sweet juice. Of course, they also need their dose of vitamins and you guessed it, time for juice. Since the arctic region isn’t exactly known for its fruit-bearing trees, for you to have any hope of promoting science in the arctic, juice will need to be imported from your other region – once the proper plantations and workers have been harnessed to the task, naturally. More workers, more food, more water, more plantations and more juice factories – and then, at last, SCIENCE. This might seem like a lot of hassle just so Joe Nobody can get a cool robotic eyeball but trust me, it pays off. Once promoted to executives, your operators unlock even more buildings, and potentially generate even more revenue for your gold vault to make gold angels in. Of course, if operators were picky and wanted juice, executives are not going to be happy until they can be provided with the finest organic beef and most luxurious clothing. Again, the cycle continues.

Of course, there is much more to Anno 2205 than juice – although juice does play an uncharacteristically large part in your success. There are RTS-like naval battles, trading, corporate intrigue, loads of side-missions and the grand prize – the Moon itself, which is what this is really all about. As this is still just a preview, the scope is rather limited but from what I’ve seen I can say that Anno 2205 is easily high up on my list of most anticipated games, and I can’t wait to review it fully once it releases on November 3, exclusively on PC.

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