by Sergio Brinkhuis
previewed on PC
El Presidente returns (did you have any doubts?) for a sixth attempt at transforming Tropico into a world superpower. His latest assault on our sanity and faith in leaders of banana republics comes with some significant changes that start with a new developer. Limbic has taken over the reins from Haemimont and their first decree involved switching to the Unreal engine as their platform.
Those are two very big, potentially worrying changes but seeing the game humming away on the laptop in front of me, any doubts I had before disappeared like snow under the hot Tropico sun. Tropico has never looked so vibrant and alive, or so big for that matter. The map sported four different islands, each available to be developed into whatever an island nation needs. The main island looked lush and suitable for the good Caribbean life. The second seemed to have formed more recently and was covered in volcanic ash – great for mining. The third had long white beaches and a beautiful inland sea. I could almost see the luxurious hotels brimming with tourists ready to empty their fat wallets at my parks, bars and zoos. The last one was a smaller version of the main island. Ripe for a farming enclave? Aahh… the possibilities.
With the map split up into islands, docks play a bigger role in this new Tropico. Workers need to be able to reach their workplaces, especially if you don’t provide local housing. In some cases you may be able to build a bridge between islands but you can imagine we’re not talking walking distance here. Public transport is being revamped to deal with this. There will be less reliance on the parking garages from Tropico 5 and a buses are introduced as a welcome alternative.
If you can’t build it, steal it
Another big change comes in the shape of raids. Would-be dictators can build up raid points with which their intelligence services can conduct raids on other nations. In our demonstration, Penultimo suggested stealing the Eiffel Tower which sounded like a really good plan to us. A few related quests later, four planes flew in the metal structure and landed it in the backyard of the presidential palace. The population cheered. Forced or genuine, it did not matter – it was a glorious day.
Naturally the world was a bit p-ed off but things calmed down after we spoke a few friendly words about allied nations during the annual presidential speech. There’s a bit more detail to these speeches too. You can select from a range of topics and promises that are spread out over four key areas. Once chosen, El Presidente will deliver his speech from the balcony of his customizable palace to the (hopefully) populous crowd gathering to hear what he has to say.
The islands are also teeming with Tropicans and every person on the island is represented on the game map. They have homes, favourite hangouts and of course places to work. You can follow each and every one throughout their day and potentially see issues in their schedules. Workdays tend to become rather short if workers get stuck in traffic. Seeing businesses struggle to fill up on workers in the earlier hours of the workday could indicate that you need to spend some more time on optimizing transportation on the island.
One change I particularly liked was that research has shifted more towards the political side of the spectrum. Many other upgrades such as specific buildings and upgrades come in the form of blueprints that can be obtained through raids and purchases, among others. Placing buildings and bridges looked smooth and everything snapped onto whatever it needed to snap onto without any issues. Even drawing bridges between islands went effortlessly.
Invigorated and improved
I was eager to see for myself how Tropico 6 was shaping up now that it has new creators and I was not disappointed. The game really feels like it is going in the right direction. Limbic are sticking close to what makes the Tropico franchise so great while still finding ways to invigorate and improve. But don’t unwrap that Cuban just yet, the game isn’t due out until somewhere next year.