Friday, September 7, 2012

Anno 2070

So I purchased this game called Anno 2070 on Steam the other day, about a week before this posts to the blog. I am pretty much obsessed with it. I played it for eight hours straight the other day. Every two hours or so a little notification in the game pops up to say "Hey, you sure you don't want to take a break?" or something to that effect. They get increasingly more amusing the longer you play. Its a nice touch and a clear sign they knew how addictive of a game you had. The game is set in the year 2070 and humanity has taken to the massive ocean, as climate change and pollution and whatnot have melted all of the ice everywhere and drowned the world, leaving lots of islands all over the place. 

I am a big fan of the RTS genre, I like getting resources and building units and such. Anno 2070 is built in the vein of that, but it is a lot more complex than your standard "build a barracks and but footmen" style RTS. The production chains are a lot more complex and rely on a variety of resources. Actually, let me start with the factions. There are three. 

There are the environmentalists, the tycoons, and the technologists. Each faction needs different resources to grow their population to rake in taxes to pay for their industry, and the whole game is set up on islands, not continents. Each island has a set number of resources available. The environmentalists like tea and health food. So to meet their requirements for stuff to drink you need to build tea farms, which can only be farmed on an island with a tea resource (each island has three agricultural resources and the ability to be seeded with a fourth one if you purchase the seeds). Health food requires vegetables and rice. The tycoons like booze, which needs rice to farm, and convenience food, which needs meat and flavoring. Flavoring can only be farmed from an island with a vegetables resource and meat comes from beef farms, which can be built anywhere. It gets more complex, the tech faction likes algae based food that can only be farmed from undersea plateaus. Only rarely do you find an island that naturally has two resources that synchronize with one another (like rice and vegetables) and if you use your fourth open resource spot there will always be something else you don't have. Plus, each island has mineral resources like copper, sand, coal, iron ore, uranium, and so on with only a limited amount of nodes it can be mined from. To make pasta you need wheat and a river slot to put a mill, but river nodes are also used for gold mining and sand collection. Sand is also used for computer parts or glass creation. So it gets pretty complex and irritating trying to balance what resources you need with what resources you have available and what nodes you have open. 

You have to establish pretty extensive trade routes to keep your islands supplied appropriately. Your technologies and the resource collection factories and farms you can build are unlocked by upgrading your population. Upgrading your population also increases your tax income. However, your population needs to be 80% satisfied with six total categories to increase the population, so you need those supply lines. As your population increases more categories that need satisfaction are added, you start at two with just food and drink. You can force your population to upgrade by just building a shit ton of dwelling areas, but that just increases the amount of demand in your populations in the long run, which will net you income but make the next population upgrade more difficult to achieve because no one is fully satisfied with everything. You also have to worry about actually getting the resources to your people, so you have to have a bunch of warehouses built all over to actually hold everything you collect. It is all collected in one unified warehouse, but each warehouse has two or more transport robots that actually have to wander out across your island taking goods from point at to point be. This can make it a pain in the ass to make tools when your tool factory is on one side of the island and your iron smelter is on the other and there is a long ass road between the two. It find it easiest to just build way more warehouses than you need, increases your storage space, adds more transports, and ensures most of your production facilities are near enough to a warehouse that delivery and pick up are nice and quick. 

You can also trade with other factions by selling surplus to them or purchasing stuff you need from their trading ships, but that can get expensive if you have a serious need. Additionally, if a population stays unsatisfied below a certain point for a certain amount of time, people just up and leave, which leaves you with no tax income to collect. Your factories and resource gathering sites are all automated, so you don't need people to run them, but they do have maintenance costs and electricity requirements. So you have to pay to keep shit running and you have to keep a functional electrical grid running. If you put too many demands on the electrical grid, your factories run at a slower production rate. There is also an ecobalance to manage, if you pollute with a bunch of factories it impacts the satisfaction or your citizens and causes your agriculture resources to produce at a slower rate. However, if you have a positive ecobalance, it increases the rate of production for your farms and such. I'm not sure if you get a bonus to factory production facilities if your electrical grid has a positive balance. You can also find islands with nuclear waste or special eco devices that inflict massive penalties or bonuses on your ecobalance. Fires, crimes, and diseases can also break out in your population centers as well and reduce your population, destroy buildings, or reduce population satisfaction. 

Long story short, it is a really complex game that is very fun. I love tweaking the system and attempting to set up the perfect supply chain, that rarely happens however, heh. I've had a lot of "one more hour, one more hour, one more, oh shit it's five a.m., well, one more hour" situations crop up while playing it. It is a fun game for me, there is plenty of complexity and entertainment value to be gained from it. You can build military units, but they're mostly ships and submarines and a few air units. I haven't played around with fleet battles too much, just kind of sticking to playing with the economy. There are also quest givers among the other factions. They also sell special devices to improve a unit or collect a resource you otherwise can't, seeds for different resources, and upgrades to afix to your warehouses that improve certain production rates or reduce maintenance costs on that island. The quests can involve fetch and carry or destroying a unit, or running around on the bottom of the ocean with  a sub using searchlights to find sunken tech. 

Its a fun and involving game. I like it. 

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