June 18, 2024

7 Min Read

ubisoft forwardanno 117anno

Anno 117: Pax Romana – 6 Easter Eggs in the Reveal Trailer

Anno 117: Pax Romana's reveal trailer opens with a dignified white-haired crier in a toga making a grand proclamation... to a vast rocky plain, empty except for a few grazing goats and distant trees. Eagle-eyed fans might be able to spot more than that, however; a closer look reveals references to past Anno games, as well as a few hints at what's to come in Anno 117: Pax Romana.

To find out more, we asked Creative Director Manuel Reinher to walk us through the trailer and point out its Easter eggs.

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The Mark of Anno

The crest on the crier's shoulder is a new symbol meant to represent not just Anno 117: Pax Romana, but the Anno series going forward. "We tried to create something that could last," says Reinher. "We were searching for a timeless logo."

The angular lines of the "A" are meant to evoke strategy, construction, and creation, like a classical edifice with two pillars leaning together, Reinher says. "Breaking it down to just this form of an 'A,' which looks almost like a building, but also maybe like an ancient tool, gives us a symbol we can play around with outside the game, to talk about and visualize the game."

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The Emperor's Seal

Below the Anno crest, you can see another symbol (repeated down the trim of the crier's toga as seen above), this one resembling a sunburst. This is the seal of the Emperor, who players - as Governors - will answer to during Anno 117's campaign. The Emperor is there in part to give players a clear role as part of a system (rather than being the one at the top of it), and will sometimes issue orders or ask players to make decisions that will provoke reactions from the world around them, says Reinher.

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The Podium

Take a close look at the wooden platform the crier stands on, and you'll see the year 117 represented in Roman numerals as CXVII. While this particular year is a minor Easter egg in itself (in that its numerals, like those of all other Anno titles, add up to nine), it was chosen in part because it sets the game squarely at the height of the Roman Empire, during the era known as the Pax Romana.

"When you think about this era, it checks all the boxes for an Anno game," says Reinher. "It's a somewhat stable phase of almost 200 years. The Roman Empire was established, so there were no more big conquests. There were some smaller clashes, of course, but this also means we have the biggest expansion of the Roman Empire."

While it's not readily visible in the trailer, there's even more to the podium, as the above still reveals. Around its edges, you can see MDCII (1602), MDIII (1503), MDCCI (1701), MCDIV (1404), MMLXX (2070), MMCCV (2205), and MDCCC (1800). These, of course, are the years during which previous Anno games are set. Additionally, two symbols are visible at the left and right edges: the crests for the game's starting provinces of Latium (diamond-shaped and angular) and Albion (like a small Celtic knot).

"It was very important for us to include some hidden messages for fans, and to celebrate our legacy," says Reinher. We thought it was a lovely touch to hide all the other Anno games somewhere there, and we combined it with the two symbols that we have for the two provinces that we will have at launch."

In the past, says Reinher, Anno's approach has been to give players a "main" province and a supporting province, but this is something the developers want to change. From the outset, players will be able to choose whether to found their first province in Roman Latium or Celtic Albion, and each will present different opportunities and challenges for players to overcome. Players will, for example, need to make decisions about whether to spread Roman culture or embrace Celtic traditions, which Reinher says will be part of the balancing act of keeping a province stable.

"It will be a struggle for you to make your people happy, but also [to satisfy] the hungry heart of the empire," says Reinher. "That's the spot where we put you as a Roman governor."

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When the trailer's setting shifts to an apparently mosquito-infested wetland (meant to represent one of Albion's biomes), a gray bovine wandering through the background moos indignantly. While the realities of modern biology mean this is really just an ox, it's standing in for something greater: the aurochs, a now-extinct species considered the ancestors of modern cattle.

"It's a very characteristic animal that you will find in Albion," says Reinher, "and so this is a small hint toward the production chains that we're going to have. The aurochs is an animal that you will use as a resource, and it's also an animal that is very much connected to the marshlands that we're going to feature in Albion."

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Ship's Arrival

"A very iconic moment in every Anno is when your ship discovers a new island that you want to settle on," says Reinher of this shot, which is meant to represent the player - as the Governor - approaching the site of their new province for the first time. "To have this visual, together with the sound, was very important," Reinher says.

The sound in question is the ship's bell - specifically the one rung in Anno 1800 when you discover a new island. "Our fans know the sound, and they also know this feeling of approaching a new island with your ship," Reinher says. "This is something we wanted to celebrate, and to give a special moment in the trailer."

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"Build It"

The trailer's tagline is repeated throughout the trailer by a singing choir, but it's less an Easter egg and more a call to action - both for players and for the studio, who've been set loose to create an expansive simulation of the Roman Empire. It's also a mission statement: While the Anno series has been described in the past as a "city builder," Reinher says that's too small of a focus.

"It's a builder game," Reinher says. "You build much more than just some houses. You build relationships, there are other rivals in this world. You build up happiness within your society. The building goes far beyond just placing some assets, placing some buildings - and that's something we want to celebrate with this. That's why we came up with this rallying cry of 'Build It!' That's something important, something we can use to talk about and celebrate the brand outside of the game world."

Anno 117: Pax Romana can be wishlisted now and will launch in 2025 for PC via the Ubisoft Store, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and Amazon Luna, and will be included day one with a Ubisoft+ Premium subscription.

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