The Rube Goldberg Consumer Machine
You start Anno 2070 with an Ark, a floating base from which you launch your operation to re-colonize the world. This amounts to buying a Commando Ship to build a warehouse on a new island. From this warehouse you build a town center and a bunch of houses for your population to grow from. To make your citizens happy, you need to meet all of their different needs. At first this includes food, drink, and entertainment, but once you’ve satisfied those goals, your citizens will upgrade to a different tier with new requirements ranging from luxury goods and foods to information and participation. Each tier of citizenry progressively increases your population and credit income.
To create the goods required to satisfy your population’s needs, you will have to build up a vast network of industry. Each product requires a long chain of succeeding resources to build, one example of which would be some of the earlier products: tools. You need tools to construct your buildings, but to fabricate those tools you need coal and iron from their respective mines to go to the smelter, which will in turn send refined iron to the tools workshop to be worked into the finished product. However, iron and coal are also required to create weapons, electricity, steel, and many other products. You must prioritize what you do and don’t need at any particular time so that you don’t bottleneck production.
The island you start off with only has so many resources, so you will eventually need to expand to other places. Some products have absurdly long chains of production that can cover three entirely different islands, and so an extensive fleet of merchant ships to transport all of your goods between them would be required. To add to the complication, you may need to defend the fleet against pirates and aggressive rivals with your own military vessels. You will also need to balance out power requirements and the fragile state of the environment. Screwing any of that up could mean your citizens becoming unhappy and your economy stalling. If that happens, it is usually very hard to recover from.
As you can tell by now, there’s a lot to take in when you first start playing. The tutorial in Anno 2070
spans a few early missions of the campaign, and it does a well enough job of immersing you in the basics. Beyond that, however, the campaign is pretty much useless. The story is nonsensical, the voice acting hideous, and the missions are even less entertaining than a wait at the DMV. Instead, the meat of the game lies in the sandbox mode where you can customize practically everything and make it as easy or as hard to play as you like.
At the beginning of the game, you must choose an allegiance and side with one of the two main factions: Global Trust, Inc., the tycoon industrialists who will destroy the world to make a quick buck, or the Eden Initiative, a bunch of environmental activists who espouse the use of ‘green’ technology. There is also SAAT, the Scientific Academy for Advanced Technologies, who exist purely for the sake of science. They aren’t available from the start, but you do gain access to their services later on, no matter your starting faction. In fact, you eventually have access to all three factions about mid-way through the game, making the already precarious balancing act that much more complicated.
Each faction in Anno 2070
has their own population requirements that are separate from those shared with the other two. You need to build their own population centers, their own chains of production, and keep each respective faction’s citizens happy. Of course, you can choose to stick with just one faction, but you would be missing out on some pretty big bonuses, such as SAAT’s ability to build on underwater plateaus. Each faction can step on each other’s toes in terms of resource consumption, so you really
need to keep an eye on what’s being made in surplus and what’s suffering from a shortage.
If there is a shortage, it’s almost invariably because the factory doesn’t have enough transportation to send its goods to a depot. Unfortunately, there’s not much that you can do in that area aside from building faster roads…. You’re usually left guessing whenever your assistant, EVE, tells you that there’s a “production breakdown at one of your factories.” The UI gives you absolutely no details other than what you need to build. Oh, and you can only build in clusters…