- Anno 1800
DevBlog: Bright Harvest
In an office environment “working in silos” seems rarely a good thing, but out there among the buttercups and daisies these silver sentinels must surely be a reassuring sight to a farmer. Though the word comes to us from ancient Greek, Levantine silos for holding grain have been found dating back over 7000 years. The modern farm silo appears to have been the brainchild of one Fred Hatch, who in 1876, finally managed to convince his old man to let him build a grain store in the barn for green corn fodder. Hatch’s cows quickly became inflated distortions of themselves, living out the winter in luxury, and becoming the envy of any neighboring farmers.
Imagine then the effect, at a similar time, of the “portable” tractor, putt-putting its way nonchalantly about the place, undercutting millennia of peasant toil and hardship. Steam-driven, petrol-driven it didn’t seem to matter; the efficiencies were great, and drastic of course in their implications for Frank and Felicity the farmhands, who had to find other work. “Sorry you two, I don’t need ye, I got me a traction engine now…” And while the Luddites were long gone, you can’t imagine that at least some of these new tractors weren’t torched for their impudence…
Despite feeling much longer, it has only been a little over two months since we first announced our second Season of Anno 1800, including three new DLCs. Now the time is almost here to send you all out into the farming fields with our second Season 2 DLC, the agriculturally themed “Bright Harvest”. Today, we not only want to give you insights into what expect when “Bright Harvest” drops this Summer, but also our thoughts behind the creation of this new content. So, time to put on your favorite straw hat, and to hit the fields!
From its conception on, Anno 1800 has always been a game of two worlds. Early on, you build picturesque farming hamlets that tell you little about the industrial revolution that is about to happen. Later, as you construct heavily industrialized districts full of huge, smoke-belching factories, those hamlets in turn start to seem positively antiquated. Of course, this evolution is not only visual, but also expressed in gameplay, with the electricity system giving players the option to give their industrial production a dramatic boost in efficiency later in the game.
So, when we started at possible DLCs for Season 2, we quickly decided that giving players a farming analogue to electricity is something we want to explore. Such content would have to check a few boxes: it should have nice visual feedback (“feedback units” being the term we internally use for all the citizens and units wandering around the Anno world) and it should incentivize players to consider rearranging their farms and associated buildings. The Tetris-like chase of the most optimal way to arrange buildings to make the best use of limited building space is a big part of Anno, and so we want to give players reasons to reconsider their layouts from time to time. With these goals in mind, let us see how we put them into practice.
The new gameplay in “Bright Harvest” comes from three new elements: tractor modules, silos, and fuel. Let us start with what you have already seen in our Season 2 trailer, the tractors. How do you get them? Tractors are activated via a tractor module, of which you can build one per agricultural farm, connecting it to the main building. Doing so will result in several things: allowing you to construct 50% more fields per farm, which you will need to boost the efficiency of the farm to 300%. In addition, the amount of required farming workforce will be lowered. In other words: tractors allow you to work larger fields more effectively, while requiring less manual labor to do so.
Of course, simply building a module once and then forever benefitting from these boosts would be boring, which brings us to the fact that your tractors require fuel to function. This is where the Fuel Station comes in, which will (surprise?) produce the fuel needed to keep your tractors running, provided it is in turn supplied with oil via the railway system. Should your tractors run out of fuel, the farm will revert to its pre-industrialized state, requiring more workforce and only working the normal number of fields (ignoring new fields from the tractor boost). As such, tractors (a catch-it-all term we use for several different machines, as you can see in the screenshots) become available on tier 4 alongside steam motors (at 500 Engineers).
During our internal playtests, we quickly agreed that it would be a shame to only have the tractors for the agricultural farms, so we needed a counterpart for animal-based farms. Enter silo modules, which follow the same basic concept of allowing you to construct one attached silo per farm, which will boost the efficiency of your farms to 200%. Of course, it would be gross malpractice to try and feed fuel to the animals, so instead each session has a good that the silos will consume (and which needs to be transported to them): grain for the Old World, corn for the New World, and in the Land of Lio…oh, now that would be telling! Suffice to say that both tractors and silos will be available in all sessions that have farming buildings. Sorry Arctic, at least you get huskies!
Of course, all these boosts could lead to a lot of additional goods being produced, which must be stored somewhere. Which is why you will be able to give your Kontors and warehouses an additional upgrade each: From tier three to tier four in the Old World sessions, and from tier two to three in the New World. Better even, both upgrades are free to all players, as part of Game Update 8. Buyers of the DLC will also get the ability to give their Oil Harbors another upgrade, as they will have to cope with the oil demands of their Fuel Stations.
That is it for the gameplay side, but there is more! When we released our first cosmetic DLC, the Holiday Pack, last Christmas, a lot of you asked for more every-day ornaments with an industrial feeling to further flesh out your cityscapes. As “Bright Harvest” is more of a systemic DLC that includes less new assets than previous DLCs, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to throw in some new ornaments that many of you have been asking for, such as haystacks and walls! In total, “Bright Harvest” will include over 30 new ornaments, with a focus on agricultural and industrial themes (including different fence and wall parts). We cannot wait to see all your screenshots once the DLC is out!
Beyond that, “Bright Harvest” also introduces 6 new Ubisoft Club challenges to test your farming skills. We also have new rewards you can spend your hard-earned club points on, but this time they take on a slightly different form- ship skins! Many of you having been asking for a long time for more visual variety in your ships, and so you will now be able to unlock new skins for the Battle Cruiser and Collier. Even better, you will be able to use these in already existing games, as you can change the skin of each of these ships individually to suit your taste. And since we already added this functionality, we are of course also extending it to the command ship and train, so you can at any time chose to use your Imperial Pack skins!
Now, after all this good news, it is time to tamper it with some bad news… As you know, we previously said that “Bright Harvest” is coming in Summer 2020. Turns out that is not the case, as Summer starts on June 20- whereas “Bright Harvest” will already be out on June 2! As always, owners of the Season 2 Pass will receive the DLC for free, while it will also become available for a la carte purchase for 6,99€/$ at launch. Stick with the Anno Union for more news on Game Update 8 as we get closer to launch and stay safe!