Whether it is teaming up with friends to end Alonso Graves’ reign of terror or taking on three other players to see who will be the last man building- playing Anno 1800 alongside and against your fellow human players can make for tense adventures.
So today, we want to talk about Anno 1800’s multiplayer mode, what options it gives players and also give you some interesting insights into how we make it possible to run an enormous simulation with more than one player.
Multiplayer – conquering the world with friends(?)
In Anno 1800’s multiplayer mode, up to four players can join a match to settle and conquer islands in an alliance or in a race against each other to reach the victory conditions first. Players can freely trade among each other, and with the possibility of trading any goods, they can decide if they want to start a trading conglomerate with specialized production on each side. And should you find yourself short of a full set of human players to stage a naval battle to rival Tsushima Strait, you can always fill any open slots with an AI character of your choice. This choice of how to approach the multiplayer is very important to us, no matter if you want to go for an ultra-competitive race to be the first to construct a battlecruiser squadron, or if you want to play a relaxed Sunday afternoon match with some old friends.
And since this is a question that came up many times in the past: Yes, the multiplayer mode supports the full range of gameplay options in Anno 1800, including the second session in the New World! So will be the first to settle a tropical island?
Starting and victory conditions
There are several game modifier which allows you to set the stage for the game experience.
Alliance with shared victory conditions – You can start the match with an active alliance pact between all players and shared victory conditions. This allows for a truly collaborative effort for players who want to work together as a team.
Alliance without shared victory conditions – This game mode enforces peaceful matches between players while encouraging economic competition thanks to the personal victory conditions.
Free-for-all – A free-for-all, with no shared victory conditions and no active trading or alliance treaties. In this mode, it is solely up to you how the world (and your fellow players) will remember you.
And while it can be fun to build and expand for hours on end, we know that some players prefer a more defined game experienced with a clear goal. That is why we have the same set of victory conditions as in the Sandbox mode, such as being the first to construct a monument, reaching X amount of investors of generating a positive revenue of X. You will also be able to select whether players have to reach one or all of these goals to emerge victorious from your online match.
Custom sessions and the new quick match mode
Anno 1800 will offer two game modes to set up games, either allowing you to invite friends into your custom sessions, or to be paired up with random players via matchmaking.
You can either create or join a custom made multiplayer match, where the creator of the session can take full advantage of all custom settings of the classic sandbox experience. Once you set your various parameters and decided which AI should populate your island space, you can invite up to three players from your friend list to your match. And if there is this one friend of a friend who wants to join you, players who join also have the rights to invite players from their friend list. The game mode supports a maximum amount of 4 players in total, which also includes AI opponents who can fill the ranks of missing players.
Our new Quick Match mode will match you with random players around the world in preset multiplayer sessions. The presets allow you to look either for a match with two, three or four players or alternatively just look with “Random” where a slot is available in any of the three presets. Unlike in custom matches, you won’t have any non-player characters in Quick Match other than NPC traders and every game mode comes with preset victory conditions.
Under the hood – large scale multiplayer simulation
Simulating a vast and complex strategy game like Anno 1800 in a multiplayer match is quite a challenging task. To make it possible, we make use of a “lock-step” mechanism, a system which allows simulating the whole game state on every single PC and as a result of that minimizes the amount of data traffic between the players.
In case the game states of the players will differ at some point in time, the game will detect it (we call it a desync) and immediately provide a simple one-click solution to repair the game state with automatic synchronization of all parties participating in a match.
You will be able to save the state of the game to continue the match with your friends at another time or to switch hosts if the initial creator of the session is not available. This also means that when you are creating a session from a previous multiplayer savegame, players in the lobby can decide which island to control during the game. And if you cannot remember the party of friends from your last session anymore, we will display the players which played with you before.
This large-scale simulation and synchronization process is also the reason why fast-forward is not available in multiplayer sessions. Speeding up the simulation would have a big performance impact on the CPU of each player. However, you will be able to pause a multiplayer game to allow everyone to take a break or get a refill of your favorite beverage.
Build an empire together
While the Anno multiplayer experience always had its vocal fans across the years, we hope that with Anno 1800, more players will team up to experience the game together. We received a lot of valuable feedback during the technical test and Closed beta, giving us ample data we currently use to improve the multiplayer experience for the launch of the game.
And as your feedback is always important to us: While there won’t be a classic Co-Op mode in the game at launch, we will add it as part of our post-launch plans for Anno 1800.