While the Tropico series may not look that unique at first glance, it actually does have plenty of deep mechanics that other city builders lack, the most obvious one being the dictatorship theme upon which all else is built. This has of course been a major part in previous games and it will remain a key feature in Tropico 6, but with some fresh ideas and some changes to the overall core experience. We got to see the game behind closed doors at E3 in Los Angeles to see what's new and what kind of shenanigans we can get up to this time now that there's a new developer - Limbic Entertainment - behind it.
One of the biggest changes right out of the box is that you are no longer confined to just one solitary island. Instead, you can rule whole archipelagos. A new tool to make this possible is the implementation of bridges that you can build to connect the islands together, this helps your community to expand faster and lets you find resources that were out of your reach before. In our interview with Martin Tosta he told us that "one island was not enough anymore for El Presidente, he needs to have several islands to spread out his economy and create some very nice tourist hotspots."
Tropico is all about building a powerful nation with a strong economy but at the same time maintaining the trust of your citizens. This balancing act dictates (pun intended) how you proceed with different choices in the game and how you are expanding your borders. This aspect will become even deeper in Tropico 6, and you will have even more choices when it comes to the kind of nation that you're building. Tosta explains it thus:
"As El Presidente, you'll have to deal with a lot of politics, you'll have to release some edicts to have some specialised effects, you still have to set up a constitution for your island state. You can change things around and really be the dictator you want to be. You can say: Ok, am I an immigrant friendly nation or am I a more militaristic or a religious kind? We really want to give the players more opportunities to express themselves as El Presidente."
Another thing that is making an appearance in the Tropico series for the first time is something called Raids. This feature will give you the option to infiltrate other nations as well to steal their famous landmarks. Do you want to have Lady Liberty in your backyard? Go ahead. When sending your people on raids they can intimidate other super powers that are posing a threat to you and swing the balance of power in your favour.
One interesting thing about this mechanic is that it will change slightly depending on which era you are playing through. For example, under the era called World Wars you have the option to send out infiltrators, and in later, more modern eras you will instead use hackers to fiddle with the stock market and so on.
With its islands and lush vegetation, Tropico 6 looks beautiful. Much more detail has been added to buildings and the overall diversity of island life is better than ever. The demo we got to look at (but not play) took place on a couple of different islands and we got to see some of the new mechanics in action. At one point the guy behind the controls sent out a raid team to steal the Statue of Liberty just so he could relocate it to our island, to make it look glorious.
Tropico 6 will feature a story driven campaign with 15 missions for you to complete, but the thing that will take up most of your time is undoubtedly the sandbox portion of the game, this due to all the things you'll be able to experiment with there. It'll certainly be interesting to see what Limbic adds to the experience, and what they build upon and discard from Haemimont Games' past entries in the series. Expect to see and find out more in the coming months as we wait for the full release next year for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.