Anno 1404 is the fourth part of a popular economic strategy game series. The game takes you to Medieval Times (15th century), focusing on the World of Orient. You take control over a group of colonists who manage to get to the eastern coast of Asia.
The gameplay uses similar rules as the previous games in the Anno series do. In most cases the game starts on a ship, and you have to decide on which one of several available islands you want to set a camp. The key to success is constant development of your colony, which in time changes from a small village into a bustling metropolis.
The economy was based on mechanics well-known to the veterans of the series. Some of the player’s tasks are: fulfilling wishes of the colonists, creating effective production chains, meeting a demand for particular merchandise, or trading. At the same time you have to keep your funds stable, e.g. by regulating taxes.
The game offers an array of diplomatic actions. Sustaining friendly relations with the inhabitants of the uncharted lands can open a supply of oriental products, such as coffee or carpets. One of innovations in Anno 1404 is introducing influential sultans. You can get their favorable attention by constructing spectacular monuments or giving them rich gifts.
The game features several game modes, including a single player campaign, in which you get to know the story of Lord Northburgh conflicted with a villainous archbishop, who aims to take hold of the Orient. Sandbox mode is another novelty. Here, the player does not have any set objectives, but can focus on development of his colony as he sees fit. Along with progress you get various rewards. You can also send your progress to other players.
Anno 1404 works on a completely new game engine, featuring even more visual effects than before. The game is played on bigger maps, giving the player more freedom. It is also noteworthy that you can slightly modify the appearance of buildings. In contrast to previous Anno games, where buildings automatically appeared on the map, now you can watch them being constructed. Other minor changes include wind simulation and more realistic water.