In the Anno 2205 preview, I had a small view of a juice-powered empire: Juice extends life. Juice expands consciousness. Juice is vital to space travel. I had great fun with fruit and now, in the full version of the game, I can honestly say that he who controls the juice, controls the universe – or at the very least, the Earth and Moon.

The more time I spend playing Anno 2205, the more like an intricate spider web it all seems. Even dispensing with the obvious “once you get into it there’s no going back out” aspect, the comparison is quite apt. It might not look like it at first, with fairly simple and basic first zone and production tier, but as I weaved my web of resources, production and supply I couldn’t help but feel like a happy little spider lording over an ever-increasing construct of interwoven threads.┬áLike in the preview, the first threads are quite simple: Workers in the temperate regions are easy to satisfy, but they are the center of a global commercial-industrial complex to be. Then come the Operators, bringing a new tier of industry and another set of requirements. Then the Executives show up, closely followed by Investors and by then I was managing tens of different commodities in what is actually just a glimpse of what’s to come.

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If the temperate region begins slowly and easily, arctic life begins hard and continues even harder. If a Worker’s needs can all be satisfied locally with a few rice farms and a desalinization plant, even first tier Arctic dwellers (known as “Protectors” for plot reasons I won’t spoil) need imported goods – namely, the all-powerful juice on which your empire is built. Since temperate regions also need it, it’s a matter of doubling down on your already existing production threads to thicken their girth. Once the juice flows and some professional nerds show up, their needs are going to take you all the way to the moon for a girl’s best friend – that’s it for the Arctic, unfortunately, as it only has the two tiers.

Once the first shuttles lands on the moon, time to really step up the game. If Workers needed cheap and readily-available rice, Protectors needed imported juice and generated heat, Miners on the moon need… air. Breathing is a big deal on the moon, apparently. So is not being squashed by a meteor. In fact, to get your lunar colony even remotely functional is going to cost you an arm and a leg, not to mention loads and loads of electricity and a fortune of construction materials. Likewise, the second lunar tier (Officers) require fancy commodities not found on the moon.

Apart from racing to the moon to be the first to construct a fusion reactor, Anno 2205 also has several other goals you’ll want to accomplish. Sometimes to get rare resources, sometimes for revenge and other times because you’re not really a bigshot company until you erect a colossal statue in the middle of the ocean. For variety, each sector has a single “Super Project” which will require time and resources on your part, so if you want to complete them all you’ll need to colonize and develop all possible sectors.

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When you’re not building, planning or otherwise managing your company, you can also engage in an RTS-like “Crisis” mission using your fleet. These missions can take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour to beat, depending on how thorough you want to be, but they reward you with rare resources which help you enhance your facilities. The strategic simplicity of crisis missions stands in contrast to the depth of Anno 2205’s core gameplay but it’s still fun to go on a boat and bombard everything in your path without thinking of juice supplies for a change.

Unlike other micro-management games, Anno 2205 steers clear of dropping a load of information on you immediately. In fact, due to how unlocking new buildings works, Anno 2205 has a naturally mild learning curve that may seem too simple for the more seasoned veterans of the franchise. To offset it, Anno 2205’s difficulty can be customized beyond the typical easy/normal/hard choices by fine-tuning multiple aspects of your corporation: revenue, loss conditions, side-mission availability and rewards can all be adjusted along with many more settings. You can go as hard or as easy as you want, with my personal recommendation is to aim for the 2-star difficulty, unless you’re completely new to the genre, and go for the maximum 3-star rating if you’ve played Anno 2070.

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Graphically, Anno 2205 is absolutely gorgeous. Each climate’s buildings look unique, from the lofty penthouses of the temperate, to the small camps of the arctic, to the squat, shield-covered lunar structures. Zoom in and you can see people, hovercars, worker drones and lots of other little details. Likewise, turn on the purely cosmetic day/night cycle and you’re in for a treat, as day becomes dusk becomes night with all the changes in light and building appearance you would expect. Crisis missions are also beautiful graphically, with explosions and other effects that wouldn’t look out of place in any modern RTS. Anno 2205’s sound and music are on-point with a soundtrack that doesn’t get in the way and voice-acting that feels right if somewhat goofy in places.

If I had any complaints regarding Anno 2205 they could be summed up in two things: First, even maxed out, the difficulty is rather easy – especially compared to Anno 2070. I routinely had the maximum credit balance for my level, without much effort or holding up on upgrades – at maxed difficulty settings. Some of the more challenging mechanics from the previous game were stripped out as well. Factories no longer need to be in a certain range of their resource manufacturer, control areas are gone and production/consumption is a mostly at a very convenient 1:1 ratio, meaning a single Fruit Plantation provides exactly enough resource to run a single Juice Factory at 100%.

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Second, although unavailable at the time of writing this review, Anno 2205 will have a companion app which is tied into the special resources required to enhance your buildings. While I understand the appeal of having something Anno to do even away from your PC, it still feels redundant and detrimental to the game as a whole. Since I did manage just fine without it, I’m guessing it’s not going to be as crucial as other attempts at companion apps, but the idea irks me on a very basic level – call it a personal quirk if you will.

Anno 2205 is a game I find easy to recommend, as long as you’re not looking for a hardcore challenge, as its adjustable difficulty opens it up for everyone. Its multiple regions and their respective challenges provide variety. Graphics and effects are beautiful and there’s a sense of competition against the AI-run companies that will keep you going even after you’ve technically “won”. This is a game you want to play and play again, probably until the next installment in the series.


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