Retake the reigns as El Presidente in the first Tropico game since 2014. There is a new developer at the helm, and there are some lofty expectations to live up to from fans of the series. This game comes across as a homage to Tropico 3 in the way that the campaign is structured, but does this help or hinder the game?
The best way to describe Tropico 6 is “Tropico for Dummies”. The game has removed features from the two previous instalments so that it allows newcomers to get involved with the game more easily. They have removed the campaign structures of both 4 and 5 in favour of a more straight and narrow mission structure. There are 15 standalone missions, and this is a positive of the game as it allows for some mistakes to be made every so often. The decisions you make early on have no bearing on what happens later on, which does encourage experimentation.
The Dynasty system from previous games has been removed in favour of picking some attributes in the creation screen. This is also a positive change as in the previous game you were only ever affecting two factions at any one time, whereas now your decisions carry consequences for multiple factions. This does make you think about the decisions you are making and how they will affect the people of your islands.
The maps in Tropico 6 are a lot more complex than in previous instalments. Tropico 6 includes small archipelagos that you can manage. You can build ports on these small islands to the bigger ones. In the latter stages of the game, you can build bridges between the islands, which makes resources easier to distribute. This improves on the previous versions as space was always an issue, and now you can expand your empire to small islands.
The radio DJ returns in Tropico 6, but he is even more annoying than I remember. He repeats the same lines in every single mission, and this is because there is no real campaign for him to commentate on. In previous games, the radio DJ would make witty comments on what is going in the game, but now there is no traditional campaign, he just resets himself in the beginning of each mission.
Another downside is that some of the edicts have been removed that have always been in the Tropico series. For example, you can’t issue social security, so students and retired people have to be micromanaged with individual “free” housing buildings that then get swamped by rich people who don’t need to live there. You either end up with people living in free housing, or they build tonnes of shacks that ruin the beauty of your island.
The raiding system makes a return, and the game has a superb tutorial as to how they work. The new version plays a lot like a weird Facebook game with long wait times and simple gameplay. The last negative point is that the workers do not learn specific skills, they all just have a general education level. As this is the console version of Tropico 6, I should mention that the menu for building, issuing edicts, etc., is brought up using the left trigger button and is navigated using the left analogue stick. This can be a little cumbersome to get used to at first, but it is very simple to use once you get used to it.
In conclusion, Tropico 6 is the best way for newbies to get into the series. There are several new systems, but they are pretty one-dimensional. This is a fun game to spend a few hours on, but it lacks the depth of the older versions. The new developers have played it safe, which is not a bad thing, but veterans might be put off by the new direction.
Developer: Limbic Media
Publisher: Kalypso Digital Media
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One
Release Date: 27th September 2019