Previews

Rum and Cigars – E3 eyes-on with Tropico 6

The 15-year Tropico party has happened at a few houses over the years.  PopTop Software tackled the original, and teamed up with Frog City Software for the sequel.  Tropico 3, 4, 5, and all of the expansions for those games were handled by Haemimont Games.  The party for Tropico 6 is gonna take place at Limbic Entertainment’s pad.

Known for their Heroes of Might & Magic work, as well as the ambitious Might & Magic X: Legacy, the team is tackling one of game publisher Kalypso’s most enduring IPs, Tropico, and to do that they decided to go back.

These little islands shall fill my Swiss bank account!

Blueprints from Tropico 3, and speeches from El Presidente from Tropico 4, coupled with a marked increase in the number of building types (over 150!) are just the tip of the cigar for Tropico 6.  Limbic has upgraded the visuals, bringing the series life using Unreal Engine 4 with smoke, fog, dynamic lighting, and shadows.  But the new salsa on top of this enchilada is archipelagos.

For the first time in the series, the world does not revolve around your palace.  Better yet, there is now more than one island to exploit…er…I mean “help realize its maximum potential.”  Archipelagos surround your island, and you can relocate (and customize!) your palace, placing it on one of them.  El Presidente needs his privacy.

A city builder at its heart, Martin Tosta from Kalypso Games gave me a look at what Limbic is bringing to the table for Tropico 6.  A quick sweep of the island’s surrounding archipelagos showed some new topography that could be used to our advantage.  Volcanic islands, sulphur streams, geysers, and other dangerous and pollution-spewing landscapes can also yield lucrative resources, and now your workers can reach them thanks to the new bridge system.  Dragging from point A to B, just like drawing in a road, gives access to these new locations, granting new beach options, landing points for fishing boats, and an opportunity to create tourist-focused island paradises to attract fat and wealthy foreigners and their fabulous money.

Pretty vistas await courtesy of the new engine.

The addition of islands, bridges, and the ability to build without hooking everything to the palace has unlocked more diversity with level and mission design.  As we scrolled by the newly expanded beach we see S.O.S. spelled out in shells – not everyone is happy here in Tropico, and that set us up nicely to check out the world building and management Limbic has in store.

Popping open a starter city with a palace, dock, some construction offices, teamsters, and other basic infrastructure, we set out to strip…er…”mine” the nearby mountainous volcano island for its iron or coal deposits, both of which being necessary to build a weapons factory for our export economy.  The Storage Quays we laid down double as a means of transport and shipping as they will bring the goods to the main dock for export. That way you don’t have to rely on a maze of bridges to abuse…er…”maximize production.”

As Tropico 6 takes place across four eras from colonial to modern, your industries will change over time.  Raw metals may be crucial at one point, but oil could become the sort of thing that brings war to your island.  You’ll be dealing with superpowers once again as El Presidente, but your faithful companion Penultimo will, as always, be at your side to help you navigate the dangerous waters.

Not everyone is happy, but there are ways to deal with that.

You can’t stay in power without at least giving the appearance of a fair election, and once again you can influence your citizens, be that with bribes, bullets, prison, or education.  This comes in handy during election time when your time to make fancy speeches arrives.  You can acknowledge issues, praise specific factions, blame other superpowers for any problems, or make promises that you may or may not be able to keep.  Martin decided to make a promise, choosing food variety out of a possibility of health, faith, fun, housing, jobs, liberty, safety, and diverse delectables.  As a small crowd gathers, El Presidente steps out on the balcony and makes his speech — just one more way Limbic is bringing Tropico 6 to life.

To help your Tropicans get around the island, new transportation options have been added to Tropico 6.  Setting up Bus Garages and Bus Lines will help your folks move around, which is great when you’ve got a densely-packed industrial island, but don’t have the room for nearby housing.

Every once in awhile, your citizens will need a reminder that life on your island is better than life elsewhere.  To help with that reminder, you can now dispatch raiders courtesy of the Military tab.  In Colonial Times they’d come from a pirate cove, in the World Wars age you’d have a commando garrison, and the Cold War and modern times will have their own unique buildings and troops, but they always have one purpose — they lower satisfaction in neighboring islands.  El Presidente’s island is better than that of his neighbors because they aren’t under assault by raiders!  Simple.

Is that Lady Liberty? Yes, yes it is.

The final new feature revealed at E3 came in the form of Commando Garrisons.  El Presidente has always wanted his own private special forces, and these guys can intimidate the neighbors, run guerilla patrol, sabotage your foes, and best of all, heist landmarks.  They can steal the Statue of Liberty, lift an Ahu Akivi Moai Head, nab the Eiffel Tower, heist the HIkone Castle, or even procure the Taj Mahal.  There will be 17 of them in the game, each with specific gameplay effects such as boosting immigration rates to your island.  El Presidente appreciates your donation of the Hagia Sophia.

It’s clear that Kalypso wants to bring back the things that made us fall in love with the series over and over into the most gorgeous version of this game to date.  From what I saw at E3, they are well on their way.   We’ll see Tropico 6 heading to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC sometime in 2018.

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