- Anno 1800
- Season 4
DevBlog: New Airships coming your way
Hey Anno Community,
Welcome to the first DevBlog for DLC 11 – Empire of the Skies! Today we’ll be talking about the new airships: The design process, the new airship types and their balance, how to build them and which roles they fulfill in the game.
You can expect two more DevBlogs following this one: One will give you an overview over all of DLC 11’s features and go into a bit more detail on them – and the other will be dedicated to the new scenario, “Clash of Couriers”.
Let’s dive right in (or up!) and answer the one big question first: Why airships in the New World?
Well, Season 4 is all about the New World and its people, specifically: Their efforts and successes in developing new technologies and processes in all sectors – agriculture, technology and culture. And with air travel and airships in particular also being a big step in transportation in our world in the late 19th and early 20th century, it was a perfect fit for this year’s content for Anno 1800.
Creating new airships
Next, we want to dive a little bit into our workflows: What’s the process for creating an airship?
We’ll start directly at our Art Team: How did we approach designing new airships? First, historical references were used to get a feel for the look of designs from the “golden age of airships”. Based on this, our concept artist created a large number of scribbles of (sometimes wild) ideas, from traditional to very fictional designs – you might remember them from the Season 4 trailer. Two that actually made it into the game with some changes are the number 8 and 9 from the image below.
One important part was, that these new airships should be more modern, and therefore also look more sophisticated than the one you were able to build in the Arctic. To quote our Senior Artist Carsten:
“None of the designs are completely realistic, neither for the time nor in general, but they look like they could have been created during that period. Like the steam ships in the game, they had to be far smaller than they realistically would be, while still looking correct in size, compared to the buildings and the other vehicles. This compromise between hard realism and changes to make the assets look more epic or just more interesting for the good of the game is a common theme in the Anno asset creation.”
Below you can see two rough 3D tests for the look of the model. Our Art Team created a kit with many 3D elements and then built airships from it. This way they could get a feel for how the airships would look within the game world. It was especially important to have shape variety and clear distinction between smaller agile airships and the larger cargo models.
All this eventually led to the final model of the large cargo airship:
That’s the Art perspective, so let’s now talk Gameplay: What kind of airships can you expect and how do they behave?
An airship for every occasion
Alright, with a few points on the initial development of the airships established, let’s look at the results: The different airship types you will have available in-game.
In total, you will get access to five new airship classes, split in two categories: Rapid Airships and Cargo Airships.
Rapid Airships are, as their name suggests, significantly faster than the rest but only come with limited cargo space. Useful for urgent deliveries but not so much for big trade routes. There are two types of rapid airships, a small and a medium one. Both come in an unarmed and an armed variant – the latter making these types perfect for trade route raids or to protect your own islands from enemy airships.
Cargo Airships are your go-to vessels for trade routes. The three types (small, medium, large) are unarmed but are more useful when you want to carry out drop actions – more on that a bit later. They can also carry far more cargo – the large Zephyr Class (which you could admire at the beginning of the blog) has a total of 8 cargo slots!
Zephyr Class? – Yes, we’re paying tribute to several (mostly wind-related) mythological figures for the airship names.
For example, the Harpy Class is named after the half-human and half-bird creature from Greek mythology. The Hermes Class is named after the ancient god of travellers and merchants. And the already mentioned Zephyr Class is named after the Greek god of the west wind.
Now, we have seen some comments on questions on the usefulness of the existing airship from the The Passage DLC and how it’s going to be handled now that new types are introduced.
Generally speaking, the “old” airship is still useful and falls somewhere in between the small and medium cargo airships in terms of speed and cargo capacity. You will also be able to use both the Arctic Gas as well as the new Helium for airship construction (including the new airships). The Arctic Gas gives your airships a speed boost, but on the other hand results a higher cargo slowdown and in it taking more damage when attacked.
Additionally, you will find a few new items that use Arctic Gas beyond the previous requirements of electricity and airship construction.
Also, on the note of the airship from “The Passage” (now called the Boreas Class): We have slightly resized the old airship to 90% to its former size to make it fit in better with the new airships. Just in case you wonder if your airship looks different 😉
On the topic of balancing, we also want to talk about speed.
The new airships are impacted by wind, but thanks to their engines not quite as much as your regular sailing ships – but more than steam ships. The Boreas Class receives the strongest penalty and all new airships get a speed boost when going WITH the wind. Especially the “Rapid Airships” will be true to their name!
Of Hangars and Helium
As established, the airships of “Empire of the Skies” are more modern than the one you were able to construct with “The Passage”. Therefore, the production is slightly more elaborate and requires more advanced materials.
First, however, you’ll need a hangar. It’s constructed in multiple phases and can be built in the New World and the Old World, with the OW variant being a little bit more expensive. It’s worth keeping in mind that the new construction materials can only be produced in the New World, requiring you to transport them to the other region if you want to make use of this option.
Which construction materials? Well… first, there is aluminium, the basis for not only the new airship types but also several of the new production buildings. For this purpose, we introduced new Bauxite mine slots in the New World. An Aluminium Smelter then creates the finished product with Bauxite and Coal.
Next is Helium: A new and significantly safer gas than the one you have extracted in the Artic. It can’t be used in Gas Powerplants but only for airships and has its own new mine slot.
Add some sail cloth, steam machines and (if required) some cannons and you’re ready to build your first modern airship!
Airships and Combat
Now it’s time for action, since we’re introducing a big change: Airships can now be damaged and shot down. For owners of The Passage this is new, since previously, airship routes had the big advantages of being safe even in times of war.
We have already mentioned that the Rapid Airships are equipped with cannons. These can be used to attack your opponent’s airships, protect your islands from enemy raids or cover your larger cargo airships – but they are unable to attack ground targets.
Further means to combat enemy airships are the new Flak Emplacements for your harbour as well as the Flak Monitor ship, giving you multiple options to counter the new potential threat from the air.
Finally, you can use any of your airships for drop actions, allowing you to sabotage your opponent from the air and aid your fleet in island sieges. Read on for more details.
Putting airships to good use
Let’s get to the last part of today’s DevBlog: How to use the new airships in your game and which new features we’re introducing with DLC 11.
Of course, you can use them – as before – like regular trade vessels, delivering cargo to your islands via trade routes. Plus, you can now also use them to raid your opponents’ airship trade routes when using one of the armed variants.
There is more, though: Airships are needed for a new feature that fulfills new needs and provides additional buffs – mail! At the centre of all this, however, is the Landing Platform that first has to be constructed. It acts as a regular warehouse, but also has 3 modules that allow you to make use of the mail feature, which requires a new Airship Route to be set-up. We will expand on both these topics as well as the use of the other two modules in our next DevBlog.
Another use of airships is the new drop feature we briefly mentioned earlier.
This allows you to load certain drop goods on your airships that can be dropped via a new interface on both your own as well as your competitors’ islands. These goods will first need to be produced in their dedicated factory and then allow you to:
- Drop sea mines on your competitor’s trade routes,
- Fight large fires by dropping water from the air,
- Cause damage by bombing your opponents’ harbours during war,
- Create unrest with well-aimed propaganda drops,
- Or raise the mood of people by dropping care packages.
You will learn more about the feature and the production of the drop goods in our next DevBlog – we’re sure you still have more questions.
There’s one more thing, of course, that we promised in our livestream last week: The release date!
“Empire of the Skies” will release on Tuesday, September 20th. That’s slightly later than we originally planned, but we wanted to have a bit more time for polishing and testing for this DLC.
And while this blog was focused on the airships, in the upcoming articles until release you will get many more details on the remaining features of “Empire of the Skies” – some of which we only briefly touched on today. For example, the exact functioning of the drop system and all its possibilities, the mail system and remaining features of the landing platform, and finally also the free Game Update.
So, stay tuned for the next DevBlog!
In the meantime, we’d be happy to see your comments on the new airships below. Do you have any questions that weren’t answered in today’s blog? Let us know!
Development of Anno 1800 – Season 4 is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action within the framework of computer games funding.