Anno 1404, is a city building simulation game which is the sequel to Anno 1701.The game implements real time strategy elements. The storyline is based on fictional events but things like construction of Cathedrals and Crusades indicate the clear inspiration from the real-world medieval times and renaissance history.
As with previous installments, the player creates and manages their fief along with AI players. The player has to meet the needs of the citizens, setting up farms and factories, form political relationships with AI players, and engage in combat if needed.
There are two zone which are culturally very different. They are named Occident and Orient. One difference from previous versions of the game is that players now have to build both of these zones simultaneously. There are 6 levels of housing. Oriental levels are Nomads and Envoys while occidental levels are peasants, citizens, patricians and noblemen. A number of peasants are required to support a specific number of citizens who in turn support a specific number patricians and noblemen. This assures that there is a balance between upper and lower class.
The game emphasizes heavily on the city building aspect and on the construction of monuments, namely an Arabic Mosque and a Cathedral. The player needs to collect building material in advance in order to start a project like this.
There is also an emphasis on trade as you cannot make advancements beyond a point in the game if you don’t do trade in spice and quartz. You are supposed to build up a nation with sizeable tax income but in order to make any capital investments, extensive trading is required. Trade is done with visiting merchant ships.
The competitive aspect of the game is implemented in the way that as players progress through the game, they gain access to naval ships and troops which allow them to attack other islands and compete with other players.
This installment also introduces a new feature called sandbox mode, not available in previous versions.
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