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DevBlog: All about items

Introduced with Anno 1404, items have proven to be quite popular among Anno fans, so we decided to significantly expand the system for Anno 2070. It’s a feature which was missed by many Annoholics in 2205, as items did not make a return for the latest game in the series. With Anno 1800, we will not only bring this beloved feature back to the table, but thanks to added functionality it will be better than ever.

All about the items
Most Anno players develop (and tend to stick to) certain tactics after playing the game for a while; some straight forward, others way more elaborate than  simply focusing on trading or total domination of your enemies. As Anno 1800’s core gameplay gains increased complexity as you advance through the game, you can think of items as the control dials to modify your production chains, spice up your tactics with unique abilities and generally being a fun way of boosting your preferred playstyle.

Despite being seemingly straightforward, items can have a major impact on many aspects of Anno 1800. Today, our Senior Game Designer Christian will show you how they work and how items will impact your experience in the age of industrialization.

Let’s get an overview
Most gamers will be familiar with the general concept of “items”, as they are a big part of most of the popular video games out there. Usually they tend to be something player characters can use to overcome various challenges. For a strategy game like Anno 1800, that seemingly simple concept is used a bit differently. In many ways, buildings act almost like characters in Anno games, with their gameplay impact directly influencing the world around them. As you slowly build your empire, ordering the construction of more and more buildings, they directly reflect your actions and impact on the game world.
Most items in Anno 1800 modify the functionality of your buildings. Certain buildings can slot items to make use of the items’ effect in their area of influence. Currently there are three such buildings planned: The guild house impacts production, the town hall is responsible for your residents and city services and the harbor office can, among other things, grant you benefits when trading with other parties. Each building has its own influence radius and you will be able to construct more than one of each of them to affect different districts of your city. There is however a limit to how many of these you can construct, though that limit is expanded as your city grows over time.

One example of such an item could be a hard-boiled constable who will boost the effectiveness of your police force in that district. Other special buildings like the zoo will also make use of items. Here the effect works slightly different, as the zoo can be a major boost to your city attractiveness, without impacting the productivity of other buildings.

An item for any situation
We are currently planning to have a total of four different item categories in Anno 1800: cultural, specialists, consumables and machines. Each of these categories serves a different purpose, and may be tied to different gameplay systems.

Cultural items – the industrial revolution and the rise of the middle class greatly expanded the intellectual horizon of the people. Fueled by an interest in history, art and exotic places, cultural items can boost the attractiveness of your city significantly. Your newly opened zoo won’t attract many visitors without exotic animals to show off but acquiring them might be an adventure in itself…
Specialists – Gifted talents, inspiring personalities or visionary scientists. Specialists are unique visitors who might have been attracted by the attractions and marvels of your aspiring utopia. While a seasoned journeyman might simply boost the production of one of your workshops, infamous adventures are up to the challenge of capturing the rarest of animals, while a long-serving captain can turn the tide of a battle with his special abilities.
Consumables – And are there really problems that cannot be solved with some good, old-fashioned dynamite? Consumables are items with a strong influence on the game world but are limited by factors such as time or limited usage.

Machines – Your workers had heard rumors of course, but nothing could have prepared them for the astonishment of seeing an automatic loom working in your sails factory for the first time. Machines reflect technological advancements of the 19th century and how the rise of the machines paved the way for the modern industry. Naturally, they will be at the center of your attention when you want to boost your production buildings and factories.
There are a few more layers to the items system. Military items, for example, are not their own category but will fall under one of the above types, such as said seasoned captain who comes with his own special abilities or special armaments to surprise your enemy with superior weapon technology.

Rarity and gameplay value
Items will have different ratings, which determines how hard they are to acquire and also represent how effective and even unique their abilities are. While the most common items might give you a straightforward boost, rare items might come with unique effects or special abilities.

We will have five different rarity ratings in total: Common, Unusual, Rare, Remarkable and Extraordinary. While you will be able to just purchase common items from traders, the hunt for the most coveted objects and special personalities will lead you through quests and other challenging tasks. The attractiveness of your city is another way of acquiring specialists, as some special visitors might be among the tourists which decide to settle down on your marvelous island.

But being rewarded for your picturesque metropolis with exceptional personalities is only one of the new features to collect items in Anno 1800. How you can get your hands on the most exotic antiquities, animals and other rarities will be a topic for another future blog.

While there are various different ways and tasks, all of them will be solely acquired through gameplay.

Final words
Complexity is an important pillar of Anno 1800 and with that in mind, we wanted to expand the functionalities and variety of our item system. The new system gives you tools which are not only fun to play with, but we also wanted to ensure that acquiring rare items will be a fun task in itself; be it through challenging quest, as a reward for your great efforts to make your city beautiful or by other means which we haven’t even talked about yet!

With the release of the game, we will have a vast amount of different items, from the must have basics to pieces with quite a unique character. We are interested in your ideas about the new item system- what do you think is a must have or do you have some truly inspiring and creative ideas to share with us?

24 Comments

  1. tcuvillier2 tcuvillier2

    Could be interesting to have expeditions level up item characters that are equipped.

  2. olblf olblf

    Please fix the doors! They look weird when placed in a slope. You need to make a straight line where the door ends, and not just drag it down to the floor and make it look weird

  3. banan1996.1996 banan1996.1996

    I like the idea of certain buildings using items. Previously items were used only by warehouses and ships. Giving items more importance and allowing us to use more number and kinds of items at the same time is great.

    I think that the town hall could have an island-wide radius so that one building affects the whole city. In my opinion it wouldn’t make sense to build numerous town halls in one city. And I also think that a town hall could serve a similar role as a statistics center in 2070 or a bailwick in 1404 – it would gather all information about island’s population and production. Such building or such a menu is extremely useful.

    I hope that machines will be created in our universities or laboratories via some research system. Maybe the university could also provide us with some specialists? And some consumables, like dynamite, as well?

    It would be cool to be able to combine some items to gain the better ones. For example couldn’t some world-known specialist teach some other not as talented specialist thus improving his skills and creating a better item that way?

    I am also thinking about improving factories by using items directly in production buildings. Each factory could have one item slot allowing us for some modification – it could improve our production in the same ways as modules in Anno 2205, reducing the needed workforce, maintenance etc.

  4. Underp4ntz Underp4ntz

    Do i see this correct? leveled buildings on a angled ground?!

    Anyways Do we get the “postcard” mode back with a camera control too? Maybe Depth of Field, Vignetting and other lens effects?

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  5. HannesDS HannesDS

    How would you acquire new animals?

    Maybe an island you can only build on a limited number of small (coastal) plots (camps) and send resources (and items) to, for funding the expensive expeditions and supporting the explorers.

    Because you don’t own the island (or all the plots), other players can have expeditions to. Maybe implementing a system like the 1404 Venice council to acquire more plots.

    You can only build special buildings on the plot (like 1404 in the orient). Better buildings can give you rarer animals, better explorers or expanding the building plot.

    The rest of the island is covered with fog. To find animals, you send out explorers who build tiny camps (like 1404 armies).

    If you are not that successful in finding animals, you could use spies to send to enemy camps to acquire knowledge about the animal living area’s. Then, building traps with bait (maybe items) to lure them. Or the native inhabitants can tell you in exchange for a trade.

    This is an idea about how exploring could work.

    Maybe you already have found out a balanced system, because once explored, you need something to keep it interesting.

    I would love to hear more about that.

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  6. MMateos19 MMateos19

    Could the images that you post in these blogs available for download in several resolutions? They would be great wallpapers!

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  7. Altayr1995 Altayr1995

    One thing that I would like to see is native cultures represented in game like neutral powers in Anno 1404. This would give a more imersive feeling of colonization and exploration.
    The players could choice between two paths when dealing with the natives: to take what you want through brute force, which will give a regular font of goods and some cultural itens (but they can rebel and some more progressists tourists would avoid your cities because your politics of domination), or to approach diplomaticaly, which can lead to some quests and give rarer itens and even specialists.

  8. BlueBreath BlueBreath

    Was also wondering if the animals in the zoo breed. To be a source of the currency you will use for getting items. Doesn’t need to be a deep system,
    only having two of a kind animals in the same zoo, for let’s say 20 minutes of game time, should do it.

  9. matt.9305 matt.9305

    Happy to see the comeback of items!
    One of the ways to acquire items could be creating them? Like creating machines using your engineers research… (using some special building plus coal, steel, time, etc.)

  10. BlueBreath BlueBreath

    If you will also give more than 3 slots in buildings with the initial game release (2070 wink) I will be happy.

  11. depotop3 depotop3

    Really awesome feature! And i love the 3 buildings as well!

    An awesome feature would be though if we would get an opportunity to blend 2 lower tier items into higher tier items. or a least some other way to not get stuck in late game with tons of low tier items.

    Keep up the good work! 😉

  12. MyLittlePiglet MyLittlePiglet

    Is there a way to store items in between game sessions? (Similar to storing items on your ark in Anno 2070). I would love some kind of out-of-game account/level system with which you can advance as you play more, and collect various rare items over several game sessions.

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  13. Dutch_Paratroop Dutch_Paratroop

    Is one of the unmentioned systems of attaining items lootboxes?

    I would not expect this since it does not fit the game in any sense of the word. But with the recent controversies and examples it’s a question that I sadly have to ask. Other games where I did not expect lootboxes have had them. So I have become incredibly wary of this phenomenon.

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  14. AmpeImann AmpeImann

    Really excited to see items return! You don’t mention anything about items on ships, will items be available on ships at all?

    Given the lack of land combat, I was really hoping that ships would have items to add further complexity to naval combat

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