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Union Update: Closed Beta and a special Announcement

In today’s Union Update, we reflect on the Closed Beta. Plus, make sure to read all the way to the end for a special announcement!

Thank for making our Closed Beta a full success
Wow, what a week it has been for all of us on the Anno Dev Team! So, where to start? First by saying “Thank you” to every single one of you who has participated in our Closed Beta- you managed to not only help us reach, but actually crush our expectations for this test. From the number of players, to how often you came back and how long you played during these few days, we were truly humbled by your dedication to helping us test Anno 1800.

We also want to thank everyone who created content for the game, be it live streaming, videos, screenshots or even creating the first cheat sheets and tools to calculate the most efficient production chains. Many of us on the team were glued to our various screens to watch streams and videos throughout the test, and we have to be honest with you: seeing “our baby” reach the #5 spot for most viewed games on Twitch on Friday night was more than just a little bit surreal. Fair to say that you all made our day(s), and that seeing all this excitement will be a great morale boost for the team as we tackle the feedback reports in the weeks to come.

But of course, it is not just about making us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Watching so many different players of all experience and skill levels was also very helpful for our game and UX designers as they were able to check many of our assumptions and guesses how players would behave as they get familiar with Anno 1800 against real player behavior.

Your Feedback, and how we will act on it
Which brings us to your feedback. Not surprisingly, we have received plenty of feedback from you, ranging from crash reports to bugs, wishes for improvements and praise for new gameplay elements you love (like the blueprint mode).

While we will not be able to comment on all of them, there are a few hot topics for Closed Beta testers:

  • Game Balance: As you know, we recently made the difficult decision to delay Anno 1800 to April 16. Between these additional weeks of development and all the feedback from our testers, you can safely assume that nothing you have seen balance-wise should be considered final. This is also true for the influence system (more on that in a second).
  • Desyncs: First, a big thank you to everyone who helped test the multiplayer mode. A test at the scale of this Closed Beta is immensely helpful for us when it comes to testing multiplayer functionality, as having so many players (on many different ISPs, routers etc.) out in the wild helps to find lots of issues we would never come across in our internal testing. Thanks to your help, we have received a lot of valuable data to improve the multiplayer experience at launch. One thing to keep in mind here is that a lot of different behind the scenes issues can result in a desync error for the player (for example, you could still experience desyncs after our Closed Beta Update 1 fixed several different issues causing them, though we managed to dramatically decrease their frequency).
  • Performance: Another topic that we saw many questions around was in-game performance. This is another aspect of the game where we are hard at work optimizing and improving to ensure that as many people as possible can enjoy playing Anno 1800. This large-scale test helped us to get much more insight into the plethora of system configurations in our community.
  • Influence: We addressed this topic in our notes for the Update from Friday, but want to reiterate our points here. We know that your experience with the influence system during the Closed Beta was not optimal, for a variety of reasons. Three of them are especially noteworthy.
    • As you know, the game is still in development, and this is especially true of the influence system. The current balance you have seen in the Closed Beta is not final, and we will keep iterating on it, as we get closer to launch. You have already seen some live changes to that during the test.
    • One important aspect to keep in mind when evaluating the influence system in the Closed Beta is that due to the content being limited to tiers 1-3 and lacking the endgame, the player behavior was artificially changed from normal play patterns. Watching players engage with the full content, they are more likely to try to make vertical progress by reaching tier 4, rather than spending many hours creating their own endgame on tier 3. To give you an idea about the influence balancing in the full game: The fifths residential tier, the Investors, will provide a huge boost to your influence pool which will allow players to customize their experience way more freely in the late game of Anno 1800.
    • We absolutely agree with your feedback that the game needs to do a better job giving players the right information and context to make educated decisions on how to invest their influence points. Internally, we have already made some improvements here with better tooltips, though they sadly did not make it into the CB build in time.

Announcing the Anno 1800 Open Beta
With all that said, we want to leave you all with a special treat to show our appreciation- the Anno 1800 Open Beta, coming April 12th-14th. So what does Open Beta mean? Just what it says on the cover- it will be open to anyone interested in testing the game prior to launch! No need to sign up, no need to cross your fingers to receive a key- just download the Open Beta client, and start playing once it goes live on the 12th.

AnnoAfternoon – The Age of Steam – February 8th 4PM GMT
Save the date once more, as our Community Team takes to Twitch again to play Anno 1800 with you. We’re going through the Closed Beta Build and will be happy to follow suggestions from the community as to how we should build.

When: February 8th, 4PM GMT
Where: twitch.tv/ubisoftbluebyte

And that’s it for this week’s Union Update. Thank you, and se… oh, you want one last final teaser? Okay then: the Open Beta will give you access to some new content that was not playable in either the Technical Test or Closed Beta.

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