Done with Anno 1800? Try this game instead!

Mar 22, 2024

After 5 years, I can understand that the allure of Anno 1800 has waned a little. Are you looking for a replacement game with similar mechanics? Have a go at SteamWorld Build!

Anno 1800's gameplay is, as we can expect from Ubisoft, intricate. The mechanics are well thought out. Striving for perfect productivity and keeping a watchful eye on supply and demand is a challenge. The graphics are pleasing to the eye. And the DLCs... 

DLCs add complexity

DLCs. You either love 'em or hate 'em. In my case, it's a bit of both. 

I love the idea of DLCs. Adding optional extra content to a already great game is a good way to both increase cash flow for the developers as well as interaction with the players. And even though I'm not a big fan of all the DLCs that Ubisoft released for Anno 1800, I still own them all. As part of the Season Passes, of course. 

The only downside to activating all those DLCs is that the gameplay changes. Not the core mechanics, they stay the same. Bar the introduction of a multi purpose building or something.

But the production chains grow over time. In the original game, you had chains consisting of up to 6 different buildings. The only exception to that rule being the Steam Carriages at 12, but still. 6 Buildings to complete a production chain is manageable. 

As DLCs were added, more production chains appeared. And those chains just got bigger and bigger. Billiard tables: 10. Violins: 11. Elevators: 13. Typewriters: 13. Toys: 15. To name a few. 

Don't get me wrong, I love a good challenge. But I also play games to relax. So at some point in any Anno 1800 game, it becomes too complex. I just give up on a game and start a new one.

Starting a new game

Starting a new game in Anno 1800 is no big deal. You can use the knowledge you've acquired to improve your initial island layouts. Because let's face it: you always build things in a way that later on, you curse yourself. The islands are always different, the fertilities change every time and that means each run you will need to tweak your strategy. 

But after 5 years of Anno 1800 and over a hundred games started, I'm the first one to admit that a change of scenery might just be what you need. Luckily for us, that change of scenery appeared on the scene last December: SteamWorld Build.

SteamWorld Build

SteamWorld Build is developed and published by Thunderful and The Station, which you might know from other SteamWorld games like SteamWorld Dig and SteamWorld Quest. They're also behind the production of the classic Bridge Constructor, Switch hit Harvest Moon: One World and platformer Super Meat Boy Forever. 

SteamWorld Build is a mix of games like Dungeon Keeper and Anno 1800. It has game mechanic elements of both great games. It resembles Dungeon Keeper in the way you explore the (three levels of) mines. But it draws more inspiration from Anno 1800 in the way population, economy and production is handled. 

Like in Anno 1800, SteamWorld Build has multiple population tiers. Upgrading a residence to a higher tier, means losing the lower tier residents. Each population tier has different requirements, where requirements overlap for 2 tiers. In Anno 1800, Farmers and Workers require clothes, Artisans and up don't. Farmers don't require sausages, Workers and Artisans do, but Engineers don't, etcc. 

Production chains are similar to Anno 1800 too. Sand is used for Glassware. Glassware and Cactus juice are used to make Moonshine. At full productivity and fertility, each 15 seconds a batch of Sand is produced. The Glassblower produces a piece of Glassware every 30 seconds. That means that a single Sand Sifting Factory can supply 2 Glassblowers with enough Sand to reach full productivity.

Not as complex

Even though the production mechanics are similar to those of Anno 1800, SteamWorld Build has one major advantage for the casual gamers amongst us. It's just not as complex. 

Even one of the largest production chain only requires 6 buildings. Artistobots (the 3rd population tier... ring a bell?) require guns. To make guns, you'll need a Scrap extractor, Charcoal maker and Gas extractor as the basics. Sulfur Distillery to turn Gas into Sulfur, Black Powder Maker to turn Sulfur and Charcoal into Black Powder and finally a Gunsmith to convert Scrap and Black Powder into guns. 

It's a long shot from the elaborate chains on the Anno 1800 Artisan or Engineer level. Don't even get me started on Investors or Artistas...

SteamWorld Build has more depth

Hold on a minute! I don't mean to say that SteamWorld Build is more complex than Anno 1800 at all! I just mean it has more depth. Literally. 👷‍♂️

In SteamWorld Build, you need to help your population achieve a single goal: escape from earth. To do this, you need to build them a rocket. This rocket needs certain rocket parts, which are found in mines under the earth's surface. 

The mine extends to 3 levels deep. On each floor, 2 rocket parts are to be found. 

The first floor is harmless. The biggest enemy you'll encounter is your own expansion drift, which might cause a cave in. Expanding your territory under the ground closely resembles Dungeon Keeper's main mechanic. You select a tile to be excavated and one of your miners will dig it out for you, then clear away the rubble and harden the uncovered wall. 

It's just a shame you can't first person mode your imps miners in SteamWorld Build and do the mining yourself...

The deeper you mine, the greater the risks. Enemies need to be fought, spawn points secured and valuable resources protected. But once you've done that, you're golden. 

Give SteamWorld Build a go!

If you are looking for a game with similar gameplay elements to Anno 1800, but with less complexity, SteamWorld Build is as good as it gets. Get your version of SteamWorld Build on Steam or your platform of choice! 

And if you need help to get started, visit SteamWorld.Build for content on this great game. 

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