Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Anno 2070 - 15/20 hours

I don't think I'm going to finish campaign mode by hour 20. It's been five hours since my last post, and I am still not much closer to finishing the very same mission I was attempting at the end of hour 10. A large part of this is, of course, because I took a detour and played a random "easy" map for a couple of hours.

The economic crash that occurred last time I played campaign mode was simply too frustrating to endure. I needed to learn how to manage an economy from the ground up, without having to worry about arbitrary campaign goals. So, I did just that.

Turns out my problem was almost certainly a lack of patience. Or rather, a lack of understanding that patience is necessary. My first time through, I charged through the scenario like a bull (at least, as much as that's possible in a casually paced strategy game). As soon as an upgrade was available, I built it, and as a result, my high-level citizens and factories were eating up all of my basic resources, leading to chronic shortages. Those shortages made my people unhappy, and as a consequence, my economy repeatedly crashed.

So, you know, I had to stop doing that. I had to, instead, build a broad enough base so that when the expansion came, it would result in a more stable structure. Even if that meant passing up the opportunity to advance the quest as quickly as possible.

With that knowledge in hand, I restarted the campaign mode . . . and almost screwed myself, because it turns out that the mission requires you to reduce the pollution on your starting island (which, if you recall, was nuked by F.A.T.H.E.R.), a task that is mathematically impossible if you have to offset a robust industrial economy in addition to the island's natural starting deficit. Luckily, I noticed this while I was only a few points over the line, and thus was able to complete the scenario goal by bulldozing a few of my high-tech factories and then rebuilding them when the quest triggered.

I'm now optimistic about completing the mission, and I suspect that future missions in Chapter 4 might be a little easier (you keep the same island for every mission in a chapter, and thus I feel pretty confident that there are no more onerous building-style tasks than getting 1200 level 3 residents - the last three mission are likely to be purely military).

That said, I have not yet reached the point where Anno 2070's brand of city management is intuitive to me. The latest problem I've been having is a shortage of vegetables to make high-end health food, which is weird because I'd have thought the bottleneck would be rice, which I have to import from a heavily irradiated island. Why my stocks of vegetables should be empty, while my warehouse practically overflows with rice is a complete mystery.

Still, this sort of challenge is why I'm really enjoying Anno 2070. There's just something compellingly immersive (and charmingly nerdy) about having to worry about sources of raw materials to supply factories to achieve your political and economic goals. And it gives a real sense of accomplishment when you are able to sort out your issues and get things working smoothly.

Here's hoping there are no more nasty surprises in store for the last three missions of the campaign.

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