This is a review of the expansion only, for our review of Anno 2070, head to the review here.

Since its launch on 17th of November 2011, Anno 2070 has been held in seriously high regard by fans of the franchise. Worried about Ubisofts continued involvement in the franchise, and the shift in era to a theoretical future, many were worried that the game would become more casual and much less refined. These worries were soon swept under the carpet, and the eclectic mix of two opposing factions with the introduction of a huge multiplayer map and world political system, with an under-sea faction later to be expanded upon in Deep Ocean, we concluded that:

“[We're] finding it very difficult to be critical of 2070, since what it sets out to do it does almost perfectly. One could say things like “it needs to do more to appeal to gamers who new to the series” but, really? Anno is what it is, and it’s stayed true to that formula. In this case, I choose to adamantly respect that integrity, and not hope for too many changes to broaden the demographic. Anno 2070 really isn’t too complex for the average gamer, it just requires some attention – and whilst you might think it’s for a niche audience, I genuinely believe that anyone who considers PC gaming to be their main platform will fall in love with Anno 2070.”

Since then, numerous free content patches and some paid DLC have been released, and a lot of balancing has been done to the game to make certain things a little less of a headache. For instance, balancing the ecology (global warming, affect on food production, etc) is much easier now, whilst the affects of pollution are much less rapid and much easier to keep an eye on.

Full DLC packages:

  • The Keeper Package – S.A.A.T. version of Former technology tool with unique skin as well as access to high-end upgrades.
  • The Development Package – Two exclusive bonus missions on the history of Former technology and a new portrait of the inventor Josh “the Ghost” Steen.
  • The Eden Series Package – Elaborate decorations for the Eco faction, like new Park Systems layouts, Flower Beds, Fountain.etc.
  • The Central Statistical Package – Global Trust skinned version of the Statistics Center building and all its upgrades.
  • The Crisis Response Package – Two exclusive missions focused on restoring the Tycoon’s former economic glory after a stock market crash.
  • The Distrust Series Package – Ornamental, decorative buildings for the Tycoon faction, including underground Shopping Malls, Searchlights, Security Fences, etc.
  • The E.V.E. Package – Give a new portrait of EVE in red theme.
  • The Silent Running Package – Give players access to a nuclear submarine Erebos, and its various upgrades.
  • The Nordamark Line Package – Various harbor ornamental buildings are added, including a lighthouse which can change the time of day to dawn, noon, dusk, and night.

Early this year, however, Blue Byte and Ubisoft announced the first major expansion to Anno 2070, Deep Ocean, and with it game the Genius class.

Prior to the expansion, the Tech faction served along the same lines as the Sultanate of Anno 1404 – an arguably optional foray into the orient to spruce up end-game, and deliver some rare items and requisite minerals for complicated and often superfluous decorative things, or items to make the upper classes happier. 2070, of course, took this much further with the introduction of two fully playable factions, but nevertheless the Techs and the Sultanate were very similar, other than the fact that the Techs are much more in depth (like… literally; they’re underwater).

With this class comes a whole new chain of requisite needs: neuroimplants, immunity drugs, laboratory instruments, and bionic suits. Those needs also require prerequisite minerals/items, along the lines of: corals, sponges, lithium, platinum, enzymes; biopolymers, omega acids, and microchips are also needed.

Many of you might think this is basically an increased head-ache, as managing a struggling economy is very difficult in Anno 2070, but the balance changes have helped quite a bit, such as the slowing down of economic affects in the area, making them easier to manage. Just as things are easier to manage, though, a new natural disaster, the tsunami, is introduced with the expansion pack. About as frequently seen as the other major natural disasters, tsunamis threaten to destroy buildings and ruin trade routes, which risks crippling the flow of your economy which, by that time, will be reliant on complex and loaded trade routes supplemented by multiple vessels and sub-marines. Luckily, the under-sea Techs have some immunity to the tsunami, or so it seemed to me. If you want to avoid a tsunami, avoid building the new Geothermal power plant – at 750 energy, it’s tempting, but it can come with disasters of its own…

Deep Ocean Features:

  • A new civilization rank
  • Underwater expansion
  • New ways of energy extraction
  • New missions about the energy research of Hiro Ebashi
  • Revised research feature: Multiple new items
  • Hostile take-over of islands without using a single bullet
  • New Tech Monument including new gameplay options
  • Fascinating new production buildings and goods

Managing happiness is of course affected by the introduction of new requisite items, for instance the Bionic Suits are required to increase the happiness of the Geniuses, which thus massively increases tax income from their homes. This all comes at a high cost, though, because the production chain of four items required to create them is very difficult to maintain, and is actually the largest chain in the history of the Anno series. Veterans of both Anno in general, and 2070, will very much enjoy the arduous challenge.

 

Anno 2070 does have a story – a much more substantial one that prior games. The campaign, as talked about in our review, charts the adventure of a young up and coming as the world faces the aftermath of natural disaster, and Deep Ocean promises to expand on that adventure.

Hiro Ebashi makes a discovery at the bottom of the Ebashi Trench, which turns out to have huge implications for Anno energy production. Through 8 new missions, the story unwinds in a mini-campaign called “Miracle in Danger”, which is basically a tutorial to cover the new chains and game-play mechanics and events in the game. I’ve never been a fan of campaigns in games like these (or RTS for that matter, aside from Dawn of War) so it didn’t manage to hold my attention much. The voice acting was nice enough, and of course the visuals were stella, but the campaign did in face feel like slices of the open world games, and a tutorial. Great for those of you who haven’t played for a while and need to brush up your skills and remember those all too complicated production chains, but if you’ve come from Anno 2070 right into this expansion and didn’t really enjoy the prior campaign, you might want to give it a miss.

One great thing about the Deep Ocean expansion is the introduction of the F.A.T.H.E.R 2.0 monument that, when built, will issue tasks to you which are of course beneficial for both money, items and licenses used to buy rare items. It also lifts building restrictions on a whole island, meaning that players have a much more creative role at end game.

Boasting 50 new buildings all together, it’s a shame that many of them are merely ornamental, but Anno 2070 launched with little to no ornamental pieces at all, but that was quickly remedied with free content patches. For me, it’s hard enough to sustain end game, let alone to trifle with making it look pretty. Rushing from day one in Anno is never a good idea; efficiency in layout and trade route control is the key to success. I am just so damned impatient.

Another “fix” if you can call it that is the introduction of defense buildings under water, which can defend your under-water trade routes against attacks from enemy submarine vessels. Along with that comes the Tech warship, the Atlus, which can dock and house flying ships at the cost of high amounts of fuel.

One of the most useful ‘balance’ changes – if you like – is the ability to set trade routes as underwater or above water trade routes. Doing this will cause a submarine to spend the entirety of it’s time under or above water as far as it is possibly, only raising from the depth at the dock. I’m not someone who plays Anno 2070  competitively, but there are clearly strategic advantages to this – namely remaining undetected, or sustaining trade routes with an enemy behind your friends back.

 

Anno 2070: Deep Ocean is literally an expansion. It takes us further into the depths of the ocean, whilst expanding on the land, military, trade and game mechanics of Anno 2070. Designed to further add to the end-game experience, players who spend 300 hours on one game, rather than 3 hours on 300 games will benefit the most, and with advanced military and espionage  strategies such as the Anno 1404: Venice style ‘take-over’ mechanics, competitive players have lots more to do, too. Let’s be honest, though, getting to an end-game scenario and breaking through mere maintenance into expansion is difficult enough, and at about £14.99 there will probably be a lot of Anno 2070 players who don’t see much of the new expansion (it took me about 40 hours to get a glimpse of the new stuff). When you’re there, though, your patience and savvy will be greatly rewarded with really well made extra content that not only expands upon the ocean, but on what comes before it, too.