The last Anno game was set in the year 2070, but this year, the series fast-forwards an additional 135 years to the year 2205. Unlike previous games, Anno 2205 doesn't just focus on building on Earth. This time, players will also have to build a resource-gathering colony on a new, uncharted territory — the moon.
From The Earth…
Even with a large focus on settling on the small, gray rock, players will still need some time to prepare for the trip by building a series of large cities on Earth. Developers wanted to make sure that city-building on Earth not only plays a critical role in the process, but is also improved to make it a better experience than previous titles. The main objective is to gather as much Helium-3 as possible from the moon's surface. With Earth's own resources dwindling to nothing, your job is to construct a spaceship to the moon and gather more resources there to survive.
One of the new updates Ubisoft showed me at its E3 booth is the introduction of a modular system with buildings. This works by simply adding a smaller component to an existing building to increase performance in a certain way. For example, a silicon mine was shown using three gathering machines on the adjacent mountainside. By just clicking on a small button at the main facility, you could add an additional machine if you need more resources, or you can add additional structures around the central building to help with processing. Obviously, all these extra modules come with a price, so it's up to you how you want to manage different aspects of each building and its components.
Another big addition to the game is the bridges. In the past, you built pockets of cities on multiple islands on the map. The islands do make a return in the game, but now you can link them together with bridges, allowing you to share resources with multiple cities on the map. With the ambitious project of creating a spaceship, you'll need as much help as possible.
Finally, there's the obvious upgrade in visual quality. The demo I saw featured a massive city built by one of the developers. Flying cars dotted the streets, with multitudes of buildings reaching the sky surrounding a giant stadium. You could even zoom in close enough to the stadium's entrance and see people dancing. Away from the city center, I saw the production fields where an army of robots tended to acres of plants while large machines tore away at mountains to procure resources. One of the main allures of city-building is that you always want to create something to a point where you can sit back and marvel at your creation. Anno 2205 certainly fits the bill for that, but building on Earth is only one part of the game.
...To The Moon
To get to the moon, you must upgrade your spaceport on Earth in order to increase its size and capacity to the point where you can launch your spacecraft. Fortunately, the demo already included an almost-fully upgraded port so that we can see what life would be like on the moon.
Unlike the bustling cities full of people on Earth, the colonies on the moon are solely focused on resource gathering. The area Ubisoft showed me was lined with processing facilities and resource gathering structures. Helium-3 and other resources found would then be transported back to Earth via another spaceport on the surface.
One thing you also have to be aware of is meteors. The lack of an atmosphere on the Moon makes your colony easily susceptible to constant meteor showers. To counter that, you will need to build various shield generators all over your camp in order to protect your hard-earned investments. There might be room for tourists or even permanent settlers on your colony at some point, but the priority is still gathering enough resources so that the rest of humanity at home has a chance of surviving a little longer.
Life Goes On
While you continue to toil away at the moon's surface, your cities on Earth will continue to expand and produce resources. Additionally, you can now manage different regions both on Earth and on the moon. Just like the various islands connected by bridges in one region, all of the regions will work together to give you even more resources to allocate where they're needed.
In the end, it's more than just one city on Earth and one colony on the moon. You will have to juggle resources both at home and in space to expand on both fronts, with the goal of a self-sustaining empire with old and newly found resources. With Anno 2205, there really is an emphasis on the whole being more important than the sum of its many parts.