A new development team taking on a beloved property can always raise a few alarms. Do the new people get it? Are they going to burn it all to the ground? Do they even care about the franchise? From what I’ve seen from Tropico 6, though, series fans have very little to worry about. The new team seems to hold past entries in pretty high regard, and have been building the title from the ground-up based on what the community wants.
The biggest shake-up is that for the first time, players will have access to three islands. El Presidente can spread his or her unique brand of “freedom” across a larger territory than ever before, and the consequences of that are huge. One island can be set up exclusively as a mining operation, while another can be built around entertainment and commerce. You could also, theoretically, have an entire island dedicated to imprisoning dissenters and interrogating them until they’re more compliant. Or just kill them. Not saying that I’d do this, but hey, the option’s there.
There are a lot of options in Tropico 6, really. Players can not only micromanage every aspect of their citizens’ lives, but can also manage practically every different facet of their three islands. Does El Presidente want to trade with certain countries, or become an increasingly isolationist state? Will the islands’ citizens participate in a true democracy, or grin and bear it through a rigged dictatorship? Will promises made in custom-built campaign speeches be kept, or will El Presidente lie through their teeth to keep people complacent before continuing to screw them over? There’s a dynamic system of choice throughout Tropico 6 that seems like it will have tangible impacts on how each campaign plays out, and I sincerely doubt any two players’ experiences will be alike.
That’s in addition to the Tropico franchise’s signature robust mechanics. There’s a startling degree of depth here, and all of it can be tailored to a player’s particular play style. It can be as basic as managing major resources and exporting goods, right down to micromanaging a zillion different facilities, bits of infrastructure, and the lives of each individual citizen. Tropico 6 can be as topical or as deep as you want it to be, and that’s a real benefit for franchises like this—being complex enough for veterans and approachable enough for newcomers.
There’s also a streak of tongue-in-cheek humour here that I appreciate. Players have a crooked advisor who acts as the proverbial devil on the player’s shoulder—goading them into making the crappiest possible decisions just to stay in power. One such decision is outright stealing major world landmarks for personal pleasure. Ever wanted to just steal the Statue of Liberty and stick it in your backyard, a la Lupin III: Bye Bye, Lady Liberty? You can do that. Want the Eiffel Tower as a beautiful centrepiece for your up-and-coming city? Go for it, boss. There are lots of cheeky flourishes like this that make me gravitate towards this series—it doesn’t take itself very seriously, despite having some pretty intricate mechanics at play.
These sorts of games aren’t usually my bag, but Tropico 6 is shaping up to be a fun, nuanced title made to attract new players and longtime fans alike. You can get your hands on it next year.