Anno 1701: Dawn of Discovery is about exploring, building and establishing your settlement and it is about government and control. The basic gameplay is similar to the PC version: the player constructs buildings to create production cycles and to satisfy the population's needs which increase over time. Because of that he needs to expand his settlement or trade to gain additional resources. Even if it is not the focus of the game the player also has the possibility to solve conflicts with military actions. The main difference is that the game contents are reduced to the most necessary, e.g. simpler production circles, less buildings and less units.
There are three different game modes. A campaign which includes 15 missions divided in five chapters, continuous game where you can play as long as you want and a multiplayer mode where you can play with up to four players.