It’s been five long years since the release of Tropico 5 on the PlayStation 4, a game which I can’t even imagine how many hours I’ve spent building up my empire, only to watch it fall because I forgot to build a fire station before I ran out of money! Within that time, Kalypso Media and Haemimont Games released a number of DLC packs to further enhance our enjoyment and prolong the gameplay. Now, finally, Tropico 6 has arrived, this time from developers Limbic Entertainment, with a base game much bigger than the entirety of Tropico 5 (including all of its DLC) – it’s bloody massive!
As the reigns were handed to a new developer, rather than the team responsible for Tropico 3, 4 and 5, I was a little concerned at first that the latest game in the series may not hold up against the previous titles. However, as you’ll find out, I was gladly proven wrong with this initial thought as Tropico 6 takes everything that was great about the previous management sims and squashes them together into a rather brilliant package.
Tropico 6 isn’t like Tropico 5 when it comes to the ‘story’. Tropico 5 consisted of fifteen missions which were split into two, taking you through the four industrial periods whilst you follow an interesting and rather long campaign which would easily last around fifteen hours or so. Tropico 6 gives you the choice of fifteen campaigns (which are gradually unlocked), each of which are split up into three or four chapters. However, unlike the previous game, each of the fifteen campaign missions are all self-contained stories, set upon their own unique islands.
As you can already see, Tropico 6 is a BEAST, in comparison to Tropico 5. For a little more context, I played through the first campaign in its entirety. This alone took me just over six hours. Remember, that’s one of fifteen campaigns to play through. However, there is a catch. Tropico 5 gave you the choice of two islands within its campaign, allowing you to alternate between them once you complete a mission – continuing on from when you were last on that island. In Tropico 6, each campaign has its own set of three or four mini-islands (which are on-screen at all times). As such, you can’t swap islands mid-campaign, the island set for that particular story will remain until you complete it and move on. This isn’t too much of an issue but it does mean you need to plan your buildings and resource gathering more efficiently than previously.
Tropico 6 brings with it a whole host of new and exciting features which weren’t present within the previous game. Unfortunately, it also (from what I can tell) has removed some mechanics which I rather enjoyed. So, let’s throw away our morality as we step into the shoes of el Presidente once more, manipulating and threatening our way to successful elections term after term…
What is Tropico 6?
Tropico 6 is a resource management game combined with the city builder, simulation, and God-game genres. Although technically taking the role of the infamous Presidente, you’re more akin to an unearthly being who floats above the world, overlooking everything from the creation of buildings to the routes the local buses take. However, I always refer to this particular series as a ‘resource management’ game, just like Railway Empire and Planetbase, as the gameplay is more about maintaining the flow of resources and keeping your little citizens happy, rather than simply building a city and watching it thrive on its own – like in games such as Sim City and Cities Skyline.
As previously advised, you’ll work your way through four industrial periods, regardless of which campaign you decide to jump into, each one offering a new selection of buildings, research, trade and opportunities. You’ll begin with the basics, creating buildings to cut down trees, turn logs into planks, mine or harvest raw resources, house your people, and beautify the place with parks. Eventually, through either researching new processes, buying blueprints, or progressing to the next evolutionary period, you’ll unlock more advanced buildings and industries. Whereas you previously could mine gold, now you can process it into jewellery in order to make more money, rubber and steel can make cars, more elaborate entertainment buildings can be constructed, and new government buildings like banks and spy academies become available.
In Tropico 6, you don’t have to worry about building resources, such as stone, wood or metal, as you would in games like The Settlers or Age of Empires. As long as you can pay for it (or at least so it doesn’t go over your 10k overdraft), you can build it. I’m thankful that those resources aren’t something you need to worry about as there are countless other things which will be on your mind instead, such as; have I got enough sugar plantations to supply the brewery, why are my little subjects so unhappy, how can I make more food and, why are the people rioting when all I did was kill their leader??
This is why it’s technically a resource management game – your time is spent mainly trying to appease the people who live on the island whilst also ensuring you have adequate excess materials and food to sell in order to keep things profitable. Checking one of the many resources for information on how you’re doing is only a small part of successfully running the land – every action has a consequence and sometimes pandering for one particular faction, or siding with a world leader which the others don’t approve of, could result in riots and war. It’s a game that is easy to play yet very hard to master – especially if you’re new to these types of games.
On a side note, if you haven’t played a Tropico game before, be sure to play the tutorial in its entirety – it can be quite overwhelming and confusing if you don’t. However, not everything is taught within the tutorial, so be open to learning new things as you play on your own as well.
There’s a lot of new things within this latest outing, so don’t take this as an exhaustive list. The first thing which stood out for me was the customisation options. Upon first loading up the game, you’re given the chance to not only customise your avatar (with a range of pallet swaps, gender and unusual outfits – many of which can be unlocked by playing through the campaigns), but you can also redesign your entire ‘palace’. There’s a number of variations to pick from, with pieces you can change, rotate and move about – such as a swimming pool on your roof. Then, you can fully re-paint it into whatever colours you wish. Mine turned out like a blind amateur artist went crazy with a brush!
The next big change, as I mentioned above, is the fact you no longer alternate between two islands as you play through the story. Instead, each map so far has consisted of multiple smaller islands which you can join together with sea-based transportation or bridges (once you get to the later periods). This adds a lot to the strategic element as the campaigns are quite long and the islands aren’t that big, so space quickly becomes an issue if you’re seeing the campaign through to the end.
Election speeches play a major part in getting re-elected. Whereas previously you either accepted or denied the elections from taking place, with the option to bribe the people if you feel you may get pushed out of office, Tropico 6 is so much more in-depth! Now, you must pick which faction you wish to talk about, which global power you wish to poke fun at (or none, if you’re too scared), what you believe was your biggest achievement this term and, what you plan to improve if you get re-elected. That’s right, you make a promise to the people that you’ll improve something if they vote for you. However, if you fail to meet this promise and you don’t actually meet the goal you’re given upon being elected, you’ll lose followers and their trust – which will impact you upon the next elections in ten years.
As I said, there are more things changed/added, but these are the three which stood out initially for me.
Now, I’ve not played a game yet where I’ve unlocked all of the research options, so some of these could be hidden in there – as research not only unlocks new ‘edicts’ for you to implement (such as reducing taxes, increasing how much food people get, and becoming Oprah and giving everyone a car), but it also unlocks building ‘options’ and ‘modes’.
The first thing I haven’t seen yet is multiple Presidente characters. In Tropico 5, you could basically have an entire family of misfits wandering around the island. These could be assigned to buildings, sent abroad to complete ‘rabbit hole’ missions, and even get married or divorced throughout the game. All I’ve seen so far is the option to have one ‘protagonist’. This isn’t an issue or an impact on the game, but I did enjoy seeing the ‘family’ walking around previously.
As mentioned above, assigning people to buildings! Now, this one does actually impact the gameplay as you used to be able to assign various ‘family members’ or trained citizens as managers within every building. Each one would bring with them a boost to the industry, lower the pollution, or simply increase the happiness of those who work there or who work nearby. But, this feature is now removed and the only way to achieve such boosts is if you build some of the new buildings, such as a cemetery, or unlock a new ‘mode’ in the research. The ‘modes’ allows you to change how a building runs – for example, you can have a normal house for poor (or higher-earning) people. However, you can toggle, once researched, a mode that allows broke people to also live there. The trade-off for this is that nobody pays rent anymore, thus meaning you lose money for the sake of putting a roof over people’s heads.
There are a few other things removed/changed, but these two were the ones that I noticed and missed. Personally, the new additions to the game more than outbalance what has been removed.
I’ll have one of those
Aside from the differences above, one of the biggest new additions to Tropico 6 lies within its new ‘raid’ system. This isn’t completely new as previous games allowed you to invade various other countries and steal things from them, such as research and people, but Tropico 6 takes it to a whole new level! First of all, there are four ‘levels’ of raids, these gradually become more advanced based upon the building they are ran from. The Pirate Cove (basically a rocky hill with a seaport) being the most basic and constructions like the Spy Academy being higher up. Each one has a number of raids you can either set manually or loop in order to acquire gold, food, resources, research, etc… each costing time and money to initiate.
However, the major reason for this particular mechanic is one you’ve most likely seen in the trailers for Tropico 6, the ability to ‘borrow’ global landmarks and wonders of the world. With enough time to spare, you can send each of your teams of trained thieves to grab a famous structure for you to place upon your land (or in the nearby ocean). Each one brings with it boosts to the economy, a rise in tourism, an increase in productivity, or some other positive attribute to your current playthrough. There’s nothing quite like walking onto the balcony to deliver a presidential speech and seeing both the Eiffel Tower and the Sphinx on either side of your palace!
What I loved about these monuments was the actual process of grabbing them. Whereas other raids just require money and time, these ones will occasionally offer you the chance to pay to overcome various issues, require you to supply a number of a resource before they’ll continue, or you have to wait up to two years until they decide to carry on and bring the item back to you. It’s like a mini-mission within the main narrative, which you need to adapt to if you really want the new toy in your backyard!
If you’ve played through all of the fifteen campaigns (which should be easily over 100 hours), or you’ve just been trophy hunting and rushed through the first level on each campaign for its respective trophy (about 20-30 hours) – what next?
First of all, if you want to carry on playing on your own, there’s the option to simply start a new game within a custom scenario. This mode gives you access to sixteen maps (fifteen are from the campaign and one, Ireland, was added in the latest patch). Here, you can adjust everything from what period you start in, how many people live there, your starting cash, if you have disasters and, how you’ll win the game – via the era, tourism, tasks or, having a certain amount in your Swiss bank account. Again, for those interested in the trophies – just like in Tropico 5, playing in this mode and setting infinite cash DOESN’T disable trophies…
If you’ve played all the specifically designed and perfectly crafted islands, but you still want a challenge – what can you do? How about playing the game on a procedurally generated island! That’s right, you can pick various specifics, such as the size of the map, how much of it is land, how many islands, the climate, resource allotment, etc… Then, the game will create a new map for you to play on. Oh, you can also set all of the above options, like starting era, etc.. as well. Not only that, you get given a Share Code, so you can share your created island with others, and you can even either put in a Seed (someone else’s share code) or simply hit random and have the game surprise you.
Want to play multiplayer? Up to four players can compete online on either one of the pre-build maps or the custom one, as described above. I’ve not had the chance to play this mode (lack of PS Plus) but it sounds a lot like The Setters with each player owning a portion of the map, expanding with guard towers, then attacking other payers with their own military forces. From what I’ve heard, it’s a mode which works really well if you’re playing against friends and people you know.
There is essentially endless fun and gameplay to be had within Tropico 6.
Although Tropico 6 looks absolutely amazing on my PS4 Pro, there’s something wrong with the visuals. I’m running my Pro on a 1080p TV and I have both Super Sampling and Boost Mode turned on – so higher resolution games are downsampled and non-patched games are ‘boosted’. The issue is, Tropico 6 offers two visual modes, you can opt for 1080p with enhanced visuals or a native 4k resolution with standard visuals. What’s the issue? Well, whether it’s on the 1080p mode or the 4k mode, both images are the same. I was going to do a comparison here but it’s pointless, they are literally identical.
Now, this could be just me, as I’m only on a 1080p TV, but in Ancestors Legacy, when you toggle between HQ 1080p and standard 4k, you can see the environment change as more assets appear or shadows are increased. In Tropico 6, nothing. My thought is, the toggle isn’t working. Based on how it looks now, I imagine it’s stuck on the 1080p mode, even if I tell it to go to 4k, which isn’t an issue for me as that’s what I would have picked anyway. But, if this issue is the same for 4k TV owners, it may look slightly soft/blurry. I have reached out to Kalypso Media in regards to this to see if it’s a known bug or if it’s just me!
Soundwise, it’s Tropico. If you’ve played a game in the series before, you’ll instantly recognise the happy and upbeat Caribbean tunes which play in the background. There’s also a lot of voice acting this time around, although they still only read the first few sentences of their dialogue, probably so it can be reused even if the actual goals underneath are different. I particularly loved el Presidente’s election speeches. Based upon what choices you make when putting together your speech, he (or she) will piece together a fully narrated speech to the people which always made me smile.
Tropico 6 has stepped in and raised the bar for all games within the genre to try and reach. The developers have taken the core gameplay mechanics from previous games in the series, which we all know and love, added a few new unique and exciting ones into the mix, and then presented us with the best Tropico game so far. In terms of size, playing through all fifteen campaigns will take you a lifetime, not to mention the unlimited fun to be had within the random map generator and online portions of the game. If you’re looking for an engaging, exciting, entertaining, and enjoyable new resource management game, look no further!
To put it simply – El Presidente has won the election by a landslide, viva la Tropico!
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- - Easily over 100 hours of gameplay (not including multiplayer and random maps)
- - Simply the best looking game in the series
- - Takes all the good things about previous games and combines them together
- - Fully customisable palace and Presidente
- - The new mechanics, such as the raids, are all well presented and fun to use
- - The visual options (1080p at HQ or 4k with stndard visuals) doesn't appear to toggle on my PS4 Pro
- - A few mechanics have been removed from what we had in Tropico 5
- - New gamers to the series may find it a little overwhelming at first as the tutorials don't cover everything