Union Update: Anno 1701 and a first small teaser

Anno 1701 Annoversary 

On Tuesday we celebrated a special anniversary for our studio: 15 years ago we released our very first Anno game: Anno 1701. 

With the previous two games developed by Austrian developer MAX Design, the opportunity to work on an existing series was an exciting one. Anno 1701 also marked the first 3D entry of the series and many probably remember it for its campaign (The Sunken Dragon) and the marketplace which portrayed not only the progress of your city, but also its mood. 

While we changed our studio’s name since 2006 from Related Designs to Ubisoft Blue Byte and now Ubisoft Mainz, we’re still happily developing Anno games. 


As a little surprise to celebrate the occasion, we released an Anno 1701 themed skin for your Ship of the Line in Anno 1800. It’s available for everyone, just select one of these ships and click the customize button. 

More Annoversary News 

Unfortunately, however, we have to cancel the Anno 1701 live stream planned for tomorrow (Friday). The streams for Anno 2205 (November 5th) and Anno 2070 (November 19th) are still happening as planned, and we will inform you of the precise times closer to these dates. 


Anno 1701 is not the only game celebrating its annoversary this week, however: On Sunday, Anno 1503 turns 19! It was the second game in the Anno series and probably famous for its hard initial difficulty and the use of individual market stalls to sell various products to your citizens. It also introduced different biomes on its map and added a large number of different scenarios for all kinds of playstyles. 


What was your first entry to the Anno series? 

“Vibrant Cities Pack” Teaser 

Following a “quest” from Reddit user Rooonaldooo99 we released a first small teaser for Cosmetic DLC #6 on Twitter earlier today. 

Of course we also want to share it here: 

You can expect more details on the Cosmetic DLC as well as our remaining content for this year in late November.

Union Update: Pedestrian Zone Pack & Game Update 12.1

Annoholics, today we released the “Pedestrian Zone Pack” Cosmetic DLC! 

In addition to canals for both your cities as well as your industrial areas, the DLC is also adding several pedestrian-focused ornaments like an underpass, public toilets, a pavilion and new groundplanes.  

We went into detail on all ornaments and the development of the canal system in last week’s DevBlog, click here to check it out or quickly recap the content while waiting for the download to finish. 

We can’t wait to see your transformed cities! 

Game Update 12.1 

Together with the “Pedestrian Zone Pack” we’re releasing Game Update 12.1 and address several issues you have been reporting to us. If you haven’t done so already, check out the full Release Notes. 


Since we noticed some questions regarding some points of the Release Notes and some issues which did not make it into this Game Update, we also want to use this opportunity to address your questions: 

Starting with some bad news, but it’s something we have seen multiple comments about recently: We have investigated the issue with Anno 1800’s achievements having been unlocked for some players at the beginning of September during the technical issues with Ubisoft Connect. Unfortunately, this issue cannot be fixed retroactively, and we are not able to reset your achievement progress. 


A point from the Release Notes that has been discussed and asked about since yesterday is the tree planting feature: As stated in the Release Notes, trees can now not be placed next to roads and buildings anymore (i.e., the places where they would disappear from after loading). 

The reason for this is, that the game automatically removes trees etc. close to buildings to make sure they’re not “growing” into the building model itself. You can already see that when you place a building or a road somewhere: Vegetation nearby is automatically removed. Upon loading, the game does this check again and removes vegetation that is too close to a building. So, to avoid that you can place trees in these spots which would lead to them disappearing after loading, these spots are now blocked automatically. 

We are investigating options to add more ornamental trees in a future update. 


Further Issues

Furthermore, we’re still investigating more issues you have reported to us, for example, the one regarding rewards from Anarchist defector quests, which does not seem to be solved for all affected savegames, and that for some players the Orchards are not unlocked even when reaching the requirements.

We have also received reports about more quest issues which some players are facing, some related to resident quests and others like for example the Skyline Tower construction being stuck during the “barbecue event” (as a workaround, demolishing the tower and rebuilding it will allow you to finish it, albeit without the related questline). 


As usual, we will keep you updated on future Game Updates. 

Until then, we hope you continue to enjoy Anno 1800 and have a lot of fun with the newest Cosmetic DLC!

DevBlog: Game Writing and detective stories

Hey Anno Community, 


We’re often focusing on the mechanics of Anno 1800, talking about features, new buildings and (of course) items. At the same time, because of the popularity of ornaments and the number of screenshots all of you are taking, we know many of you also care for the little details of the Anno world. 

Today, we want to dive into different kinds of details when we talk with Lotta, one of our Game Writers, about the work of the Narrative Team and bringing the world of Anno 1800 to life. 

In broad strokes, what kind of tasks is the Narrative Team responsible for?

The Narrative team is split into two roles: Narrative Designers and Game Writers.

Roughly, Narrative Designers focus on creating the broad narrative structure (the setting, the plot, the questlines) and then implement these structures within the game: How and when a quest is triggered, what gameplay aspects are involved, what art assets are needed etc.

Game Writers on the other hand write in-game text: Quests texts (audio text, text in the quest books etc.), gameplay and flavour text (for items, ornaments etc.) and support for technical texts (menu texts etc.)

But very often the team comes up with story ideas together. Especially at the start of a new project or a DLC, ideas are shared and expanded upon through research and discussions.

Once everything is written, some of the texts need to be recorded. This is also something the team is involved in. They work together with a recording studio and the actors to bring the characters to life.
And finally, Game Writers are also involved in the localization/translation process: They communicate with the localization team, give feedback if there are any questions and check the final edit.

(All text is written in English. But depending on the writer’s mother tongue, they are also involved in proofing another language. I, for example, was also involved in proofing the German translation and attending the German audio recordings.)

Part of your job also is research for new DLCs. Can you tell us a bit about the process?

Research is a big part of Anno.

Once the focus for a DLC is agreed upon – like the skyscrapers in the high life DLC – we start focusing our research on the specific setting, timeframe, building type etc. In the case of “The High Life”, our focus was the late 19th/early 20th Century in America. Specifically, the construction of early skyscrapers, the rise of department stores and the history of patent products.

But the Narrative Team is by no means the only department conducting research. The Game Design Team, for example, is also very research-focused. This is important to ground goods, buildings, and new mechanics in a historical context. At this stage, a lot of the research gets shared between the teams, and we discuss how to best use all the information we gather in-game.

(But other departments also do research, the art team for example. Different places in specific time periods have very distinct looks. The architecture, the fashion, etc. So, it is important to gather references.)

How do you go about making the world come to life?

It is always fun to find little details, anecdotes and stories during our research and then still try to sneak them into the game. While the big picture is important, it is in some way the accumulation of details that really gives a game setting depth and makes it come alive.

This of course can be done through easter eggs but also in item fluff texts, quest names, characters etc. Little historical anecdotes are often hidden in Anno 1800, references to old games or little details that try and capture the Zeitgeist of the setting.

One of those are the hidden detective scenes in the “The High Life” DLC.

Then let’s talk about just that. What are these scenes, where can players find them?

Once the Skyline tower is built two people can be found atop a balcony, sitting by a chessboard, enjoying a drink and a conversation. They are the two protagonists of a mysterious easter egg. One is a 1920’s Noir Detective, dressed in a dapper suit and a hat. And the other is his confidant and close friend, the drag queen – dressed in ruby red. Just get close to the tower to experience one of their conversations – they happen in random intervals.

About the two characters

Private Investigator

He is the classical 1920’s hard-boiled noir detective who’s seen a little too much in his line of work. He started his career of snooping as a journalist but got tired of printing rumors and lies and turned to the pursuit of truth instead. Although the dead rarely pay.
He cares for the people and their stories, but that makes it all the more difficult. To deal with it all he likes to take to the rooftops of the city after a case, where he meets with his friend and confidant the Drag Queen.

Drag Queen

She knows the city and its people just as well as the detective, if not better. When he tells her of his cases, she can picture it all: the faces, the scenery, the consequences… She’s a good listener and probably the only one the detective has got. But she’s not just there out of the kindness of her heart she likes the stories too, she likes the mystery that unravels thought a conversation.

Whenever our Detective has closed one of his grueling cases, he goes to this balcony atop the Skyline Tower to meet his friend. There he reflects on the events of the case, his client, the clues he found, and of course the outcome. The drag queen always has an open ear for him, curious to know the reveal, ready with a bit of advice, and a sympathetic smile.

In total, there are ten different cases you can overhear.

As you know “The High Life” is heavily inspired by the American skyscraper boom at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. To strengthen the atmosphere of that setting we choose to include another American staple from around that time: The noir detective genre.
Noir stories were first published in so-called pulp magazines. Among the many heroes of these stories, the 1920’s hard-boiled noir detective might be the most famous. He is a complicated antihero, a broody, pessimistic private investigator who’s seen a little too much in his line of work but still cares enough to take on case after case. Despite his air of indifference, he always gets invested and when his cases reveal a tragic tale – which they often do – he drowns his sorrows in a stiff drink.

The most famous of his kind must be Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlow.

Have you already encountered one of their scenes? If not, find below one of the ten conversations to listen to – and make sure to check out the others in-game!

(Music Credits: Signs To Nowhere by Shane Ivers – https://www.silvermansound.com)



That was a short look into the work of a Game Writer on Anno 1800. Do you want to know more about their everyday tasks? Curious about details on the work of the Narrative Designers? Let us know what you want to learn more about!

Union Update – It’s “The High Life” Release Day!

Today is the day! From this moment on you can download “The High Life”, Season 3s last DLC!

Change your Skyline forever by constructing Anno 1800’s first Skyscrapers and fulfill your citizens’ new needs with additional products and buildings.

As a new monument, we introduce the massive Skyline Tower – and also let you send your people up into the sky with hot-air balloons.


If you haven’t checked out our previous DevBlogs yet, have a look at the one giving more details into the development of the Skyscrapers themselves and the second one providing a broader overview of all the DLC’s features.

While waiting for the download to finish, you can also check out our gamescom livestream from last week.

Together with the DLC we’re also releasing Game Update 12 – have a look at the full Release Notes for all changes, fixes and improvements.

Twitch Drops

Should the download take longer you can also watch a list of selected streamers playing “The High Life” and earn two new ornaments while doing so. Have a look at this blog for more details and a full list of all participants.

Free Weekend

Do you know someone who hasn’t been turned into an Annoholic yet? Well, we have a great solution: From tomorrow until Monday, Anno 1800 (including all Game Updates but without any DLC) is completely free to play!

This version is also compatible with all existing versions in multiplayer, meaning you can not only lure your friends into playing Anno 1800 but also show the ropes in coop.

You can find the exact times on the map below:

The Anno franchise is also on sale till September 16th, the ideal opportunity to get the few DLC you might be lacking: https://store.ubi.com/anno-franchise

But now… get ready for “The High Life”!

DevBlog: The High Life

It is a frigid night, a thick fog blankets the city, ahead of you dim lights spill onto bustling streets. A sea of faceless umbrellas bobbing up and down, caught within a current of unending urgency. You feel a cutting breeze, drops of rain, and in the distance, you hear rumbling thunder. You quicken your pace.

You see an immense silhouette, jutting between rooftops – a flash and the goliath skyscraper is illuminated! Beautiful and foreboding. You crane your neck in awe. There is a moment of stillness then, with a resounding clap, the sky breaks open.

You run. Drenched you burst into the lobby where warm lighting greets you. You take a breath. A mellow tune drifts towards you from a gramophone in the corner, its soothing cadence interspersed only by the quiet dripping of your coat, then a soft ding catches your attention, you look up.

The elevator doors slide open. A bellboy smiles at you. He takes a gentle bow and asks, “What floor will it be?”

Hey Anno Community,

After last week’s DevBlog which went into detail on the Skyscrapers, their historical references and the mechanics tied to them, today’s DevBlog provides you – as usual – with the full overview of all features of Anno 1800’s upcoming DLC: The High Life.

Grab a coffee (or a glass of champagne, if you’re feeling as fancy as the Investors), and let’s dive right in:

A Story of Architectural Progress

As we mentioned last week, the “The High Life” DLC took some strong inspiration from the early period of skyscraper construction during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These new architectural feats were made possible by new building techniques and supported by inventions like the hydraulic elevator.

Many of the early skyscrapers were built in New York and Chicago after large-scale fires destroyed existing housing and a population boom also required more and more residences. The iconic look of the early skyscrapers was shaped by the Chicago school of architecture by combining the French Beaux-Arts or renaissance style with practical and commercial elements. Influential examples include the 1908 Singer Tower and of course the 1930 Empire State Building.

The story of “The High Life” is therefore focused on these new architectural achievements, but also the exploits of enterprising businesspeople on the consumer market, when we’re looking at Shopping Arcades.

In this matter, you will make the acquaintance of Donald “Donny” Bader, a capitalist visionary who is eager to change the skyline of your cities with Anno 1800’s first Skyscrapers.

Donny’s a prolific Investor – the best in the city if you ask him – and he’s happy to share the tricks of the trade with you. Cutting corners, fudging numbers, splurging the health and safety budget on bubbly, it’s all in a day’s work for him. And he’s rather impressed by you, witnessing your achievements with rapt attention. Truth be told he’s quite the fanboy, eager to hitch a ride on your coattails towards glory and profits. He’ll invite you to the Skydeck to celebrate his victories, but he’ll never once give credit to the people who made them possible. With a winning smile to shame all the losers, his hair slathered with pomade, he’ll call the workers lazy and waste Theodora, his top Engineer, on fetching him refills.

The Skyscrapers, a Change to Your Skyline

Having set the scene, we’re sure you’re eager to know how to build these Skyscrapers in-game, right? As soon as you reach 5000 Investors, Donny will contact you about his ideas for a new construction project. It would be a shame to ignore such an opportunity, so better get started right away.

How to Build a Skyscraper

Before you can start building, though, you first need to set up a new production line: Skyscrapers require a new construction material, elevators, which are produced in an Assembly Line. We’ll get back on the topic of new production buildings and goods, for now, let’s stay with the Skyscrapers a little while longer.

Both Engineer as well as Investor residences can be upgraded to Skyscrapers. This allows you to increase your population without requiring building space for additional residences. The Skyscrapers themselves are modular, meaning you can upgrade them multiple times until they reach their maximum height: Investor Skyscrapers can consist of 5 levels, Engineer Skyscrapers of 3.

There are multiple different variants for each module and the general style of a Skyscraper also depends on the base residence underneath. You can change the look of each individual block via the building’s menu and clicking on the customization button.

It’s also possible to downgrade a Skyscraper or turn it back into a regular residence of the respective population tier – and yes, before you ask: Residence items also impact Skyscrapers.


Skyscrapers inherit all needs from their regular population tier, but with each level, you will need to fulfill additional new needs in order for more residents to move in. New needs can be goods (like cognac or biscuits) or the new Shopping Arcades like the Furniture Store.

While their residents pay taxes like all your citizens, Skyscrapers are special since they cost maintenance. If they’re not properly supplied and placed (check below for the “Panorama Effect”) they can cost you more than they pay you in taxes.

On the plus side, they do provide you with significantly more residents as well as influence points.

If you want to learn more about the development of the Skyscrapers for “The High Life”, make sure to check out our first DevBlog for more details on Design, Art and UI challenges.

The Panorama Effect

The Panorama Effect is a new mechanic exclusive to Skyscrapers. In short, your Skyscrapers will receive a buff if they are next to a skyscraper of a lower height.

This means, if a skyscraper has other skyscrapers of the same level or higher nearby, it has a negative effect on the buff, while taller skyscrapers are not bothered by having smaller ones nearby. A Skyscraper still profits from smaller ones but might not reach the full panorama effect if there’s a same height or higher skyscraper nearby.

A diverse town, therefore, leads to better buffs for the buildings (and honestly it looks much better). There is no punishment for “Skyscraper only” cities, but the buff significantly helps to offset the high maintenance costs.

The buff itself comes in several levels (intense, strong, solid, moderate, weak, none) and reduces maintenance costs, increases the maximum number of residents and provides bonus residents (this one only when supplied properly).

New Needs: Shopping Arcades

With a few Skyscrapers constructed, let’s take a look at the new needs of their residents, starting with the Shopping Arcades.

While department stores already existed in the US, some since the 1820s, they were innovated upon and expanded during the late 19th Century. Their popularity was propelled by a post-civil war economic boom and the demands of a quickly growing population. Retail moved away from local-owned businesses towards large corporations. The shiny new department stores offered personal shoppers, catalogues, and order by mail. But they also brought about a less obvious change. They opened their doors to women, enabling them for the first time to go shopping, and own and manage a budget— a small but significant step for female independence and autonomy.


Similar to the Restaurants in “Tourist Season”, there are three different kinds of Shopping Arcades your residents will ask you to build: The Department Store, the Furniture Store and the Drug Store. Each fulfils the respective need of your population, but depending on the patent you decide to equip, they provide a different bonus on the residences (regular ones as well as Skyscrapers) within its area of influence: Reduction of certain needs, a bonus to happiness or an increase in tax income.

From Secretaries over Lipstick and Tooth Paste to Toasters and Vacuum Cleaners there are many exciting products to choose from for modern shopping lovers.

Tutorial Menu

Like the previous DLC of Season 3, the new features and mechanics are also explained in the new in-game Tutorial Menu.

Want to double-check how the Panorama Effect works? Just click the “?” symbol in the top left corner of a Skyscraper’s object menu to receive an overview of all new mechanics.

New Needs: Products for High Society

As mentioned before, you will also need to supply new goods to your residents.

The Chemical Factory, which was added with “Tourist Season” receives a new recipe (Lacquer, requiring Ethanol, Resin and Quartz Sand), while the Orchard in the Old World can now produce Cherry Wood and Resin in addition to Jam.

On top of these additions, we’re adding two more Multifactories to the game: The Artisan Workshop producing many sought-after products like for example Violins (requiring Steel, Cherry Wood and Lacquer) or Cognac. The Assembly Line, on the other hand, is a great example of the technological progress the Industrial Revolution is bringing to Anno 1800: Aside from the already mentioned Elevators it’s also producing Typewriters. We’ve seen some guessing about which products might be needed to produce Elevators, so here you go: Steel, Steam Motors and Wood Veneers.

Finally, we’re also adding one more building to the New World: The southern session receives its own Chemical Factory, producing the very important Ethanol (using Corn and Wood) as well as another modern invention: Chewing Gum!

Based on community feedback from the Diary Study as well as the Technical Test, we made changes to the Multifactories in the construction menu: Each of their products has now its full production chain displayed, making it easier for you to see in advance, which goods and other production building you will need.

The recipes in the Shopping Arcades and Multifactories work just like you’re used to if you played “Tourist Season”: Some of them are unlocked via quests, others by fulfilling certain conditions. If you own “The Passage” or “Land of Lions”, you will be able to choose from a few additional recipes, more on that below.


Following your feedback from “Tourist Season”, we’re adding several new items with “The High Life” which specifically affect the new building types introduced since “Tourist Season”, like Hotels, Restaurants, and the new Shopping Arcades.

The Multifactory buildings even receive a completely new type of item which works a bit differently and usually comes with a trade-off of positive and negative effects. Some of them are more specialized in specific building types like the Chemical Plant, others work on all kinds of Multifactories.

This should give everyone who loves optimizing their economy more options to puzzle and make the most of the often-limited space.

Let’s talk DLC Synergies

Let’s now take a look at the synergies you can profit from when owning several of Anno 1800’s previous DLC, several of which were the results of playtest feedback:

Firstly, as already mentioned above, you will receive additional recipes for each Shopping Arcade with their unique buffs if you own “The Passage” or “Land of Lions”. This way you can supply your citizens with products like Refrigerators, Face Cream and Four-Poster Beds – for a truly luxurious life.

As a result of feedback from the playtests, the Skyline Tower – the new monument of “The High Life” – is a potential need for Tourists and can be connected with the bus network.

Certain sets from the Zoo or the Museum now also influence Multifactories. For example, the Bronze Age Exhibition or the Icebound Exhibition.

Finally, also based on community feedback, if you own “Seat of Power”, several of the Palace’s buffs are now affecting buildings from “The High Life” and “Tourist Season”, as long as they fulfill the conditions. For example, Orchards are not considered farms (just like Lumberjacks aren’t either) and the Artisan Workshop is – in contrast to the Assembly Line – not a “heavy industry”.

One word about the “public service” boost the Palace can provide to buildings like Theatres or Pubs: Shopping Arcades (and Restaurants, for that matter) technically aren’t your usual public services since they require input goods to provide their service – they just fulfill a similar gameplay function to standard public service buildings. They are therefore not affected by the buff from the Department of Welfare.

Further details: The technical side

For the ones among you who want a quick dive into parts of the game logic, here’s some more background on the matter:

Another aspect of this decision is technical reasons: In contrast to regular public services, the reach of Shopping Arcades is at the same time also the range of the carts delivering the required input goods. The Palace buff could increase their reach but not the cart range, which would then require two different visualizations on the same streets, making it complicated and confusing from a UI point of view.

On the other hand, if both ranges should be increased by the Palace buff, the cart logic would need a rework:

The maximum range of carts is currently directly bound to the production cycles of a building, assuring that they deliver the input goods in such intervals that the production building always has enough goods to continue production. Increasing the cart range would thereby also increase the time the cart takes to deliver the resources, leading to gaps in supply.

Let’s assume for a moment we accept this and let players decide if they want to accept production issues cause of delivery times. Here we have two more problems:

  1. Right now, we don’t have indicators for players about such a system
  2. Having production buildings search for a warehouse ‘somewhere’ on the island compared to just inside its set radius would directly impact game performance.

Alternatively, if we wanted to assure optimal supply no matter the distance, certain parameters would need to dynamically change based on the current cart range, for example the speed of the carts (which would end up looking extremely silly) or the production cycle of the respective building.

All this, mind you, would mean making changes to a core system of the game just for a specific new building type for a DLC – which would be a loooot of work. And then we would need to make sure all this is also transparently communicated to you, the players, so you can understand the mechanics and adjust your production accordingly.

For Restaurants, this is even a whole different matter, since here the effect range towards Tourists is decided by the bus network, and not by pure street distance, complicating matters further.

A new Monument

Let’s end this DevBlog with a high point – literally: The “Skyline Tower”.

After you’ve built a sufficient number of level 5 Skyscrapers, Donny will contact you with his most ambitious project yet: a monumental tower!

The Skyline Tower is a multi-stage monument and the tallest building in Anno 1800. It contains the probably most luxurious apartments and can house several thousand Investors. They have all the needs of regular Investor residences but there is a twist: The maximum number of residents of the monument depends on the number of Shopping Arcades in your city. Each Shopping Arcade recipe makes the Skyline Tower more interesting to residents, adding another 100 to the maximum population. The respective Shopping Arcade does not have to be in range but simply has to be located on the same island.

This brings us almost to the end of this DevBlog. But we can’t end it without mentioning that you’ll again receive several new ornaments fitting to the theme – including something red and round which uses hot air… what could that be?

If you’re curious for some live gameplay of “The High Life”, mark the 26th of August in your calendars: At 5 PM CEST the Anno team will do their English gamescom stream on twitch.tv/ubisoftbluebyte, presenting the upcoming DLC and talking a bit about what else you can still expect to come to Anno 1800 this year. Don’t miss this!

DevBlog: The Skyscrapers

The most prominent and central element of “The High Life” – both visually as well as from a gameplay perspective – of course is the Skyscrapers. So, in this first DevBlog for the upcoming DLC, let’s take a look at how the Skyscrapers came to be and which challenges we faced during development.

The topic of Skyscrapers came up when we initially started planning content for Season 3 and decided on the Old World focus. While “Docklands” and “Tourist Season” were supposed to be DLC to accompany and support Anno 1800’s midgame, “The High Life” would focus on the lategame with its Skyscrapers as a way to maximize population in existing cities – and without a need to expand further, going up instead of wide – and more needs to provide an additional challenge.

Skyscrapers – The historical references

Skyscrapers already visually present the start of different times – away from a city where buildings are not differing much in height, to the architectural challenges of constructing buildings multiple times the size of normal houses.


Let’s check with our Narrative Team, Game Writer Intern Lotta and Lead Narrative Designer Matt, for some historical context on the Skyscrapers first:

The High Life DLC is strongly inspired by the dawn of American Skyscraper construction during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In particular, the arrival of the hydraulic elevator, and iron-framed buildings enabled these new feats of skyward construction.

Many of the early skyscrapers were built in New York and Chicago, spurred on by large-scale fires that destroyed existing housing, in combination with a population boom. The iconic look of the early skyscrapers was shaped by the Chicago school of architecture by combining the French Beaux-Arts or Renaissance style with practical and commercial elements. Influential examples include the 1908 Singer Tower, the 1910 Woolworth Building and of course the 1930 Empire State Building. Constructing these behemoths was a difficult and expensive undertaking and numerous unsung workers made them possible, many of them were Native American ironworkers, their hazardous work referred to as ‘walking iron.’

The points above might lead to a question we have seen occasionally pop up in discussions about “The High Life” across various channels: Does Anno 1800 slowly move forward in time in the course of its DLC?  Aren’t skyscrapers too modern for a game titled “Anno 1800”?

Anno has always played fast and loose with time and connections to real history, spanning entire eras, which in our game go unaccounted (i.e., you don’t see any dates fly by as in titles that try somehow to simulate history). Of course, the downsides of this approach are exaggerated in Anno 1800’s century because there is so much rapid technological progress. We began with sail and ended with steam— but to tell the story of the industrial revolution, we had to make each resident tier feel like progress. Our production goods begin with fish and end with the first steam cars— so before we get to DLC we can say the game spans the entire 19th century, with “1800” as its starting point – which also nicely fits in with our tradition of having the checksum 9. What then are an extra few decades on top of that? Ultimately the passing of time is more connected to the resident tiers than the DLC, which is why the Skyline Tower at Tier 5 is one of the last things you are likely to build at this point.

The following graph visualizes this quite well – and does in fact date back to the time before Anno 1800’s release.

The visuals, creating the Skyscrapers

By now, you have already seen some concept art for the new Skyscrapers, so let’s talk visuals with Tim, our Lead Artist: Did you have specific inspirations for the skyscraper design? How did you make sure Investor and Engineer Skyscrapers are easily distinguishable?

The regular Investor and Engineer houses already have their own designs and color palette to be easily distinguishable. We just followed their rules for the design of the Skyscrapers to make sure on the one hand they are easily distinguishable and on the other hand, they are always fitting the design of the houses they’re placed on. When looking over your vertically expanded city after release, you shouldn’t have any troubles telling Engineers and Investors apart.

Additionally, we used a lot of old photographs and reference images of early skyscrapers (you can for example get some impressions on this Wikipedia page) to get some inspiration for their visual design.

Below you can find an early 3D blockout of the Engineer skyscraper we shared not too long ago.

A modular approach

The Skyscrapers in “The High Life” can be upgraded, having five levels total (or three, for the Engineers). Each level adds one “module” to the building, adding to its size and increasing the maximum population as well as the number of needs the residents have. These modules come in different shapes and sizes and are randomized when upgrading the building.

But: If you don’t like a specific module, you can simply change it by going into the customization menu of each building. The only restriction is, that you cannot add bigger modules on top of smaller ones – but the UI will tell you that when you start playing around with the system 😉

All this proved to be a challenge since a new system was required: This is the first time for Anno 1800 that you can build assets upwards. On top, it’s a modular system, which offers lots of different combinations. This system had a couple of new challenges for us to solve, graphical as well technical, like making sure the module system is working no matter which combination you will use.

New Mechanics & Challenges

Only offering an upgrade to your existing residences resulting in space for more people would be boring, of course. So, there are some challenges attached to it:

  1. Each building costs maintenance and especially the bigger ones can quickly become expensive.
  2. Counter this by making use of the Panorama Effect (see further below in this blog) where your skyscrapers receive buffs based on their placement and surroundings.
  3. And, of course, fulfill new needs with several new production chains and buildings to further increase resident numbers and tax revenue.

Phew, lots to keep an eye on – only to increase your population numbers? But no, aside from tax revenue, Skyscrapers also provide you with additional influence points depending on their level.


Talking with our Game Designers, the new systems did not come without their challenges during development: The way the game handled consumption turned out to be a problem when the same population class lives in different types of houses.

This is a premier for Anno 1800: With the old system of “one house type per tier” we could set the needs per population based on the house they would live in, so one residence would consume X amount of a specific good depending on the house type they live in (e.g. cause both Workers, as well as Artisans, consume Bread).

(That’s also the reason why Tourists are so hungry for Bread, one already eats for 500 people instantly – hungry fellows).

This was good because this reduced fluctuation in consumption. Upgrading a residence and unlocking a new good would instantly trigger the maximum demand and would not change until more houses are upgraded.


However, that had to change because of the Skyscrapers and the Skyline Tower: Both buildings can have their maximum population changed after being built (in contrast to regular residences) by getting additional needs added.

For you as the player, this has no impact on your gameplay experience: When we previously assumed “residence type X consumes Y amount of good Z”, we are now calculating the same consumption via the maximum possible population of said building by adding up the population each need provides (e.g. for Artisans we now calculate: 6 residents for Sausages + 6 for Bread + 4 for Soap + 4 for School + 4 for Canned Food + 2 for Sewing Machines + 2 for Fur Coats + 2 for University = 30 total. And those 30 people consume the previously mentioned goods by a certain factor). As you probably noticed, for regular residences the results are the same and we still assume this maximum number when you construct a residence or upgrade one. But a Skyscraper receiving new needs which increase the maximum population after being upgraded – that’s a different story.

In fact, we already did this kind of calculation whenever an item or buff increased the maximum population, basically an exception to the previous system.

To streamline it and cause we needed it for the new residences anyway, all residences now use this new calculation, making balancing the new features significantly easier for us, without causing any gameplay changes for you. So yes, a single Tourist will still eat cartloads of bread 🙂

Fun fact

Our Technical Test version had an in-between version of this system, so to speak. That resulted in, for example, instead of the intended 2.5t of toys for 100 skyscrapers level 5 (which can already be harsh) they actually needed 8.75t.

But despite this, you still unlocked the Skyline Tower, which greatly impressed us!

In addition to consumption, the maintenance costs of the Skyscrapers were another point of balancing.

During development and testing, we had both hard balancing (Dark Souls of city-builders!) and gentle balancing, but in the end, we found a compromise and even added a new difficulty setting, similar to the one for the Influence system, which lowers or increases the maintenance costs.

So now each game (including old save-games) can be customized according to your preferences.

A UI solution for Skyscrapers

Since both Engineer, as well as Investor residences, can be upgraded to Skyscrapers, Engineers, however, also have the upgrade option to Investors, we had to come up with a solution that allows you to choose either action. We tried two different variations, the classic and the split button. In the end, we decided to go with the split button as the information is more discoverable and consistent. Both buttons also have their own tooltips with additional gameplay information.

Not only the buttons but also the rest of the Skyscraper UI went through multiple iterations, like every time we have to design new UI elements. You can see some early tests for the UI below.

“We start our decision process with how prominent the information needs to be displayed. From there we try out layouts with different information hierarchies.”

– Farah, UI Designer

For example, in Variation B, the panorama and level information have the same priority as the upgrade button. Players could process the information faster when upgrading or downgrading the building, while variation C might have suggested a connection between the needs/happiness tabs and the panorama effect/skyscraper level below and was therefore discarded.


In addition to the split upgrade buttons in the building’s UI, you also have a separate general toggle that highlights all skyscrapers that can be upgraded – like you’re used to from the already existing upgrade button.

Another issue we ran into during development was the general size of the building’s object menu:

In the beginning, the height of the object menu is tailored to correspond with the number of residence needs. But due to the number of buffs players could potentially have with the new monument as well as the increased number of needs, the object menu grew so much in size it started overlapping with the speed bar in the top right corner.  During our Technical Test, we received feedback that players want to see more needs simultaneously.

Our first solution was to keep the current size and implement a scroll bar. However, player feedback on the visibility of said bar eventually led to the decision to increase the number of columns for needs from two to three to fit all the new icons and thereby reduce the amount of scrolling players need to do.

Panorama Effect

One important thing to keep in mind when building and upgrading your Skyscrapers is the Panorama Effect. This effect gives a boost to your Skyscraper’s maximum number of residents, reduces maintenance costs, and provides bonus residents – as long as the skyscraper in question is not surrounded by other Skyscrapers of the same height or higher.

For you to quickly spot if nearby skyscrapers have a positive or negative influence on the Panorama Effect of the respective building when selecting it, we went for a color-coding solution: Positive influence is marked in green while a negative influence is marked in brown.

This was, however, not our first choice: We tested several different solutions before we ended up with the final version.

Initially, some icons were also tested on top of the skyscrapers, but these weren’t easy to match with the corresponding buildings, especially when zoomed out. We also tweaked the colors a few times, to indicate the positive/negative effects while also making sure it’s color-blind friendly and easily readable.

Left – testing icons that would clump up when zoomed-out, and a radius indicator.
Centre – one version of colours we tried.
Right – current colours for the Panorama Effect

The panorama effect has a few more nuances and is of course also reflected in the building’s object menu as it comes in different intensities. More on that topic in the second DevBlog.

On that note, we’re at the end of the first of our two “The High Life” DevBlogs and have hopefully provided you some exciting insights into the development of the Skyscrapers! This leaves us with one final piece of information to share today: The release date! You can expect “The High Life” to release on Tuesday, August 31st, at 6 PM CEST (9 AM PST).

Do you still have more questions or want to know about a specific aspect of the Skyscrapers? Let us know!


*Please be aware that many screenshots or images in this DevBlog show “work in progress” states of the DLC and are not representative of the final version.

Union Update – Community Page & New Forums

Community Page launching

Today, we’re launching the “Community Page” here on the Anno Union!

Its main purpose is to be a place where you can find links to all important community resources like the Anno Wiki, Subreddit and various tools created and maintained by you. We’re extremely proud to have such an active, passionate community and therefore want to highlight the things you do here on the Anno Union.

You will also find links to all our channels as well as the download for the most current wallpaper pack there.

Finally, we feature a “community spotlight of the week” in addition to the ones in our Union Updates. So make sure to let us know about all your video and fan art projects! Since we’re starting on a Thursday, we’re running this “weekly” for 1,5 weeks till July 12th and feature two creations instead of just one.

This page is by no means considered final and we’re planning to expand on it with additional sections as well as links to even more community content in the future.

So, if you’re missing a specific link or have a suggestion for what else should be on the Community Page – let us know!

Anno is getting new forums

We also have an announcement regarding the official Anno forums which are available in English, French and German:

On July 20th, we will be switching to new Anno forums. This is part of a wider initiative to slowly move all Ubisoft forums from the old forum software to a new system, which is done in waves. You can already have a look at the new forums for e.g. Assassin’s Creed and The Division here.

What does this mean for you?

Firstly, the current forums will be switched to “Read Only” on July 20th. You can still access them and read all old posts but can’t create new posts or reply to threads.

Secondly, with the switch to the new forum software, we will not automatically transfer any existing threads to the new forums. We will manually take a few threads that were pinned anyway and re-post them in the new forums.

Private messages, visitor messages, post counters and ranks are also not transferred. Everyone is starting with a fresh slate.

Thirdly, the new forums are accessible as usual with your Ubisoft account, you can login and continue there as you used to.


We will keep you updated on this topic and link to our shiny new forum as soon as it’s ready.

If you have any questions in the meantime, feel free to post them below this post.

The Green Game Jam voting has ended

The voting for the different concepts presented for this year’s Green Game Jam has ended on Monday.

You can have a look at the top 5 and their concepts here on the Playing For The Planet website.

We want to say a big Thank You to everyone who voted for Anno 1800 in the Player’s Choice Award! Our “sustainable cities” concept came in 3rd, and we can’t wait to show you more later this year. Stay tuned!

Cosmetic DLC #5 – A first tease…

After the end of the Community Vote – which the “Pedestrian Zone Pack” and the “Vibrant Cities Pack” decided for themselves – we slowly started working in more detail on the two Cosmetic DLC. While their release is planned for after “The High Life”, we thought you might appreciate a first glimpse at the “Pedestrian Zone Pack”!

These are some early scribbles for possible ornaments. They might not end up looking just like this in the end and, as you can see on the example of the underpass, our Concept Artists create several different versions for each idea, before we then decide which of them should be turned into the 3D model for the game.

If you want to get some more insights into the development process of a Cosmetic DLC, have a look at this older DevBlog.

Union Update – Game Update 11.1 & Community Spotlight

Addendum: Balance Changes from Game Update 11

With Game Update 11 we also introduced a few balance changes to item sets from Zoo, Museum, and Botanical Garden. Due to an oversight, these were not included in the original Release Notes.

We added them now and you can find them here.

Apologies for any confusion this may have caused.

Game Update 11.1 coming soon!

Talking Game Updates: Game Update 11.1 is planned to release Tuesday next week, June 22nd. We will have the full release notes ready for you on that day.

Green Game Jam

Yesterday we gave you an overview of the Green Game Jam with the goal to create new game modes or other activities in existing games to promote combating climate change. With the game mode that we are currently developing, players will have to focus on sustainability and nonetheless growing their population in the setting of Anno 1800: the age of industrialization. Excessive deforestation, monocultures, and overfishing will ultimately result in a dead piece of land and ocean that is unable to be revived for many years if at all – just like reality.

Sounds tough? Don’t worry, the rogue-like elements will make it possible to replay the mode while keeping your technological improvements and knowledge.


Additionally, our concept is up for a vote alongside the projects of our developers as part of the “Player’s Choice Award”. If you like our concept, vote for us! (we will develop this new mode independent of the outcome)

Elevator Music Download

Let’s assume there’s an elevator in the “Tourist Season” DLC which you can ride – hypothetically. And there was dedicated Anno elevator music.

So, if that was the case, you could then download the full music track here.

Annoverse Contest Reminder

One last reminder that the “What would your next Anno look like?” contest organized by Annoverse Discord is ending on June 20th. So, you got a few more days to write or draw your ideas and post them in the #giveaway-submissions channel – with the chance to win some prizes.

At least we as the Anno Team had a lot of fun reading through the submissions posted so far.

Community Spotlight

Once again have the new buildings inspired many of you to share their creations with us. We know that finding the perfect place for your hotels can be tricky, especially since many cities are already quite crowded. Here we have gathered a couple of screenshots of people who had some lovely ideas on how to incorporate the new “Tourist Season” content, as well as some additional clever ideas integrated into their busy cities.


Laudica starts off strong showing her incredibly symmetrical 5-star resort. Simply the perfect location for a unique and almost ostentatious place to stay for our spoiled tourists.

ObiVanDamme decided to create a fantastic chess board that reminded us of Alice in Wonderland – let’s see if we can find the Queen of hearts in this majestic world.

shane868 posted a variety of screenshots, but this one was our favorite – the sun is just shining through the opening of the aircraft while the Iron Tower stands tall watching over the awakening city.

Mithaldriel shows us a phenomenal screenshot of the opening ceremony of the Iron Tower in midst of a vivid and lively city.

Last but surely not least shows us Poppytat a mesmerizing shot of the new cocoa production, including two graceful waterfalls. Who wouldn’t just want to book their next vacation here?

“The High Life” – Technical Test

Hey Anno Community,

Today we are looking for some experienced city builders who are not afraid of heights to join us in the constructions of the first skyscrapers as part of the “The High Life” Technical Test! Similar to what we did last year for “Land of Lions”, this Technical Test will over the course of a few weeks invite a number of Anno Union community members to play Season 3’s last DLC early, and to help us find issues and problems.

Keep in mind that you will be playing new content in an early work-in-progress state (as “The High Life” is scheduled for late Summer 2021), so a certain tolerance for dealing with unfinished game elements, bugs and technical problems is highly recommended. Testers will have access to a closed forum where they can share their experiences and feedback with members of the Anno Dev Team, to ensure that we can deliver an amazing DLC and end to Season 3 (plus the associated free Game Update of course, which will also have many quality-of-life improvements players have been asking for).

Interested players can sign up for a chance to be part of the Technical Test by visiting this website.

Please be aware that due to the early state of the new content, the Technical Test will be under a strict NDA, and participants will not be allowed to share information, images or videos from the test outside the closed forum. We are currently planning to start the “The High Life” Technical Test in about one month – you will receive more details if you have been selected.

See (some of you) soon on a skyscraper balcony!

Union Update: Let’s start the “Tourist Season”

Hey Anno Community,


today is the day, hordes of Tourists are just waiting to explore your cities, try our expensive dishes and visit all the monuments and wonders you have built in your cities.

For a more detailed look at “Tourist Season”, make sure to check out our DevBlog highlighting all the new features and explaining the DLC’s mechanics. The Bus System even received its very own DevBlog with some additional development insights, considering it’s the feature tying together all other mechanics.


As usual, we’re releasing a big free Game Update alongside the DLC. Game Update 11 adds a reforestation tool, a new slow-mode game speed option and plenty of other quality of life improvements. On top of that, we got rid of various bigger and smaller bugs – the full Release Notes can be found here.

We also want to point out that from today on, you can purchase the “Tourist Season” DLC as well as the “Vehicle Liveries Pack” Cosmetic DLC separately via the Ubisoft Store.


That said: Let’s start the Tourist Season!

We’re excited to hear and see your reactions and hope you’ll have a great time with the new challenges the Tourists as well as the recipe system provide.


The Anno Team