- Anno 1800
- Season 2
DevBlog: Land of Lions – Elders and Story
“He is the shepherd of the flock, Who gives life and age. Tell me now: Yes, His laws are boundless.” To these tenets of the spiritual poem Al-Muthallathu none are more faithful than the Elders of Enbesa. Shaped in the crucible of indomitable belief, wrought by the creeds of a culture older than the time of legends, they know much and ordain more.
The Irenya, as they are referred to in Enbesa, are the ever-vigilant guardians of their land’s storied traditions and history. Stalwart in their faith and their conviction that the fundamental truths of Life can only be sought across the span of ancient laws and a millenial religion, they care little for the bustle and blare of progress. Why seek to change that which has seen generations past live a devoted and orderly life?
The Irenya command great respect from the people of Enbesa, though there are those who would resent the harshness with which they hold to tradition, toiling away fervently at the crafting arts while the ‘lower’ Shepherds work the land and more menial charges. Few complaints ever reach the keftanya moots – the city-ruling, Elder-held councils – however, as Elders seldom fail to show compassion and care to the people of Enbesa under duress – so long as they respect the Ancient Ways.
Hey Anno Community,
and welcome back to the third installment in our series of DevBlogs about “Land of Lions”. This time, we want to focus on Enbesa’s Elders, and the strong narrative elements of our final Season 2 DLC.
If you missed them, you can catch up on our previous blogs here:
Always respect your Elders
The Elders are the second of Enbesa’s new residential tiers and represent a completely different aspect of life in their region from the Shepherds. Whereas the latter enjoy their time in nature and work the land with the freedom of youth, the Elders’ experiences in life have given them an altogether dourer outlook on things. This is especially true for their representative, an elderly widow who has seen her fair share of grief in life. While she can be harsh and judgmental (especially towards outsiders like yourself), her poignance belies a caring nature towards those who manage to earn her respect.
A long life of working hard has taught the Elders many useful skills which they apply to seven new production chains such as Ceramics (a basic need), Tapestries (a luxury good contributing to their happiness) or Seafood Stew. Unlike the self-sufficient Shepherds, some of the Elder’s production chains also require goods from other sessions, requiring you to expand your network of trade routes to supply them. The Elders also produce the Mud Bricks needed for more advanced construction in Enbesa, alongside the Shepherd’s traditional Wanza Timber.
In total, the Elder tier will introduce 17 new buildings, including of course some public buildings like the Monastery, which contributes to their Happiness.
Let me tell you a story…
While last week’s DevBlog and this one have so far focused on the new gameplay Elements that Enbesa will introduce to Anno 1800, there is a lot more for you to experience. So, let us talk about story and narrative elements. This is one aspect of the game we have steadily been honing and improving throughout the development of Anno, starting with the original campaign, across the “Sunken Treasures” story and up to the icy world of “The Passage”. This DLC specifically received a lot of praise for creating an atmosphere that was quite unlike the usually bright and cheerful Anno world, taking on a more somber and tense tone. Basing the story on the infamously tragic events of Franklin’s ill-fated expedition to find the Northwest passage (albeit with a slightly happier ending, and less cannibalism) and the introduction of heat as a quintessential replacement for the happiness of other sessions helped to create an atmosphere unlike anything else in Anno, replacing the usual cheerfulness with a grim fight for survival. Seeing player reactions to the Arctic emboldened us to try to go one step further when it comes to creating a believable, breathing “Land of Lions”.
To put it simply: The story of Enbesa presents one of the biggest narrative efforts the Anno Team has ever undertaken (and we are not just talking about 1800, either)! We expect that first-time players will take a good 10-15 hours of playtime to experience all the story threads introducing the cultures and people of Enbesa. These story elements come I two distinct flavors: the main story, and story islands.
For the Emperor!
The concept of the main story should be a familiar one to Anno 1800 players, as it follows the same structure as previous DLCs like “Sunken Treasures”, slowly introducing you to all the major new characters, as well as gameplay elements like residential tiers, irrigation and the Research Institute. As with these other new sessions, your journey to Enbesa begins with an Expedition that becomes available at the Artisan tier.
It is during this expedition that you will meet one of the key characters, Biniam. A gifted young academic, Biniam serves as a diplomat to the ruler of Enbesa, Emperor Ketema. Through his service, he hopes to one day bring abut his dream of a research institute in which the brightest young scholars from around the world can work. It is Biniam who introduces you to Emperor Ketema, based on your proven credentials as a skilled city-builder.
Ketema is a warm-hearted yet ambitious ruler, who dreams of Enbesa entering a long-lasting era of peace and unity through diplomacy and trade, earning the recognition of other powers. As a symbol of these efforts, he asks the player to enter his service as the architect of Enbesa’s new capital city, Taborime. This leads to a unique setup among the islands of Anno 1800: while we normally separate player and Ai islands, you will actually be building Taborime for Ketema on his island, surrounding his already existing magnificent palace (which will also visually evolve throughout the story). Of course, it would not be an Anno story if things ended there, and you can expect a few plot twists. We will leave it at that, as we don’t want to spoil any surprises for you…
Unity, but at what cost?
As mentioned earlier, this classic story structure is only one part of “Land of Lions”’ storytelling, with the other being our three “story islands”. These are essentially lovingly crafted, visually unique islands that each offer an additional optional storyline, all of which are entwined with the larger history of Enbesa (for example, one of them is the birthplace and home of Biniam). These islands will not only offer new quests for you to undertake to help their residents, but will also call upon you to make some tough decisions, which can have some dramatic consequence (including, but not limited to, these islands looking very different from how they started out…).
With that said, let us introduce you to these three locations and their people:
Angereb is a mighty fortress rock on a rocky island, inhabited by a fiercely independent people who see no reason to join forces with Emperor Ketema.
Kidusi Anitoni is an ancient monastery and library, home to a group of religious scholars who are doing archaeological work to uncover Enbesa’s past.
Waha Desher was once a flourishing Oasis and center of commerce that has since fallen on harder times but may yet be reawakened.
The quest structure of these islands is much looser and non-linear than the main story, leaving it up to you how and when you want to meet the residents of these three islands. We will leave it up to you to find out much more about them come October 22. Between DevBlog 2 and this one, you should now have a good idea of all the new content awaiting you in Enbesa. But, as you know, that is not all, so make sure to tune in next time for a deeper look at our new Old World goodness: The Scholars and their Research institute!
In the meantime, why not let us know your thoughts in the comments?
The Anno Team