- History Collection
DevBlog: Anno 1404 History Edition
Hey Anno Community,
Welcome to the fourth and final part of our series of DevBlogs covering the four classic Anno games included in the upcoming Anno History Collection. This time, we will cover perennial fan-favorite Anno 1404. If you did not get a chance to check out our previous three blogs yet, we would encourage you to do so before reading on (especially the first one):
Classic gameplay on modern PCs
As outlined before, our priority with this collection and the four games included (the History Editions of Anno 1602, 1503, 1701 and 1404) was to maintain the classic gameplay that we have all grown to love over the past two decades, while ensuring that playing these games on your current PCs is smooth and hassle-free. This is of course also true for Anno 1404 History Edition:
The game has been completely ported to be 64-bit only, meaning it can now take full advantage of the RAM in your PC, which helps improve performance and stability. This is especially relevant for Anno 1404, as we will discuss in a moment.
As with the other three games, Anno 1404 HE will support screen resolutions all the way up to stunning 4k, with the game automatically scaling the user interface to remain comfortably playable even at such a high resolution.
Improved and enhanced multiplayer functionality via Uplay. In addition to the tried and true multiplayer setup you are used to, there will also be a quickmatch function and desync recovery like the one seen in Anno 1800.
Anno 1404: One for the ages
As we mentioned last week, Anno 1701 was a game of many firsts. Not only did it mark the franchise’s first foray into full 3D gameplay, but it was also the first Anno game from the current team at Ubisoft Mainz (née Related Designs). Having very successfully assumed the mantle of Anno stewards, the team set out to work on the “Empire” to their initial “New Hope”. When the game eventually set sail in Summer of 2009, it immediately captivated the imagination of players with its lovingly detailed worlds, allowing players to create picturesque renaissance cities that were bustling with life. Having proven their mastery of the classic Anno formula with 1701, Related Designs felt ready to introduce some big new features with 1404, many of which (or at least their influence) are still evident a decade later in Anno 1800.
The most eye-catching new element was of course the Orient as a second new playable culture in addition to the European-inspired occident. Having an architecturally, culturally and geographically distinct second part of the game, with two separate residential tiers as well as new production chains and goods was not only mind-blowing to players of Anno 1404, but will also sound familiar to avid industrialists who have been spending time in 1800’s New World or the Passage. The Orient even had its own major building project with the Sultan’s mosque (as a counterpart to the Occident’s Imperial Cathedral), and special regional gameplay with the Norias. These machines came in two variations and were used, much as in the real world, to help water the land, allowing players to construct farms in the otherwise arid land. Rumor has it that you may soon see a new spin on this established concept when it is time to travel to the “Land of Lions” in the last DLC of Anno 1800’s Season 2 this fall. The game also put a bigger emphasis on building a living world for players to get lost in with its ensemble of beloved AI characters such as the benevolent Lord Northburgh and his wise oriental counterpart Grand Vizier Al Zahir, the despicable Cardinal Lucius or the fan- and meme-favorite Leif Jorgensen, as well as a huge selection of quests to further flesh them out. As Anno tradition at the time demanded, the game received a popular expansion the following year, called “Venice” (one of the rare references to a real country or city in the otherwise fictional Anno series). The expansion not only added the highly anticipated multiplayer mode, but also some impactful new features. Chief among them was the espionage system, which gave players some interesting ways to mess with their opponents in covert ways, and the assembly, which could be used to buy out other islands (similarly to Anno 1800’s island shares).
Having been well received before, the “Venice” expansion raised Anno 1404 to the level of an all-time city-building classic, and the game has generally been considered the franchise’s high-water mark prior to Anno 1800. It is certainly no coincidence that the next two Anno games would explore futuristic new frontiers instead of continuing to explore the middle-ages. It would be a full decade between Anno 1404’s release, and Anno’s return to a historically inspired setting with 1800 in 2019.
With Anno 1404 still looking great and playing just as well, we focused our efforts for the History Edition on making the multiplayer work properly via Uplay (as discussed above), and the late game crash that has been plaguing some players for years. First, let us clear up a misunderstanding we have seen surface a few times since the announcement of the History Edition: the late game crashes in Anno 1404 are not the result of a “bug” in the game, but a consequence of the inherent inability of 32-bit software to address more than 4GB of RAM in your PC. In other words: once your empire reaches a certain magnitude, the game will run out of usable RAM, which will lead to a crash. It is also worth pointing out our general philosophy for Anno, as we do not put hard limits on buildings or units the way many other strategy games do. Instead our approach was always that you can keep building until you max out your hardware or run of out of space in the game world, and we are often deeply impressed by resourceful players finding some tricks to cram just a few hundred more citizens into their cities (you are very lucky that there are no building safety inspectors in Anno!). In the case of Anno 1404, the game unfortunately came out at a time when 32-bit software and operating systems were still the standard, and so players had to contend with the limits of their hard- and software at the time. With the 64-bit version that is the History Edition, the issue of the game running out of Ram will be one of the past, and you should be able to reach new levels of building uninterrupted. Let the citizen-cramming begin! Please note however that due to this change, the system requirements of all History Edition games are much higher than for the original games (though still very modest compared to today’s games, of course). The system requirements for the Anno History Collection are:
|Operating system||Windows 7, 8.1, 10 (64-bit)||Windows 7, 8.1, 10 (64-bit)|
|Processor||Intel Core i3-3220 3.3Ghz AMD FX-4130 3.9Ghz||Intel Core i5-4460 3.2Ghz AMD Ryzen 5 1600, 3.2Ghz|
|Memory||4GB RAM||4GB RAM|
|GPU||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 (2GB) AMD Radeon R7 265 (2GB)||NVIDIA GeForce 770 4GB AMD Radeon RX 470 4GB|
|DirectX||DirectX 11||DirectX 11|
Other improvements to Anno 1404 History Edition include:
First, because we all know the question is coming: Yes, everyone gets access to the silver ship. You are welcome.
Multiscreen support, so you can not only have a globe- but also a monitor-spanning empire.
Borderless Window mode, in addition to Fullscreen and Windowed
Optional multi-placement of residential buildings, to make painting down new housing for your citizens quick and painless
Anno 1404 HE will of course also have save game compatibility, meaning that you will be able to take your old save games and pick up playing where you last stopped.
You will also be able to create new custom scenarios or to import and play old scenarios created with the editing tools. One small caveat though: We will not be bringing back the old “Gate to the World” portal for scenario sharing, though there are of course plenty of ways to share your scenarios with other players these days.
Finally, languages. Anno 1404 History Edition will support English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Czech, Polish, and Russian languages.
As mentioned in the Anno 1602 HE blog, we have asked Dynamedion to compose a new History Edition Suite encompassing the main themes of all four games, which you can of course also enjoy with Anno 1404 HE, alongside the rest of the game’s digital soundtrack. Beyond that, buyers of this version can look forward to a special commemorative Anno 1404 wallpaper, and a company logo for use in Anno 1800. Keep in mind that anyone who buys the full Anno History Collection on Uplay will also get an additional fifth company logo, plus a special ornament for use in Anno 1800.
And with that, our series of DevBlogs/ retrospectives comes to an end. All that is left for us to do is to share a list of all versions and where to buy them next week, before the Anno History Edition launches globally on June 25! Stay safe and stay building!