Preview: Tropico 6 is The Most Ambitious and Challenging Yet

Right from the offset, El Presidente promises that Tropico 6 will build bridges instead of walls. And after spending some time with the game’s beta earlier this month, this really couldn’t be more true.

Since I first started playing the Tropico series – Tropico 3 was my first – I have found the games to be about style and politics rather than actual city building. While this has given Tropico a really interesting edge and has marked it out from the crowd, the formula was getting a bit stale. I have heard enough of Penultimo’s one liners and they aren’t going to single-handedly bring me back to the table for another course. Luckily, as the Tropico 6 beta seems to prove, the next instalment of the game gives us a bit more to stick our teeth into.

Previously, there’s been a lack of real challenge in terms of city planning. Tropico has always been more about balancing the economy, defence and political influences. It didn’t matter where you built your farms and factories as long as they didn’t pollute each other. This isn’t the case in Tropico 6. Your people move at a much more lifelike pace, making it necessary to spend time and money on your transport networks. You’ll also need to take more time to plan your city effectively in order to fulfil your export quotas. Of course, this is all while you’re still managing the budgets and expectations of political factions, both internal and external.

What is also clear from the Tropico 6 beta is that there are crazier maps to navigate and plan out. Instead of sporting singular islands, you’re able to take your little dictatorship to rule over several islands in an archipelago. This adds more confusion to the city planning as it is harder to effectively work your slaves… I mean subjects… over several smaller landmasses. It also means that you will, indeed, have to build bridges. Tropico 6 does give you more tools like bridge building, tunnel digging and public transport depots to manage this new challenge, and it really adds so much more to the experience.

The new changes to the game mean series stalwarts will likely need to devise new strategies, too. Playing through the beta, it soon became clear that my long tried-and-tested working method just wasn’t going to cut it. Previously, I’ve always tried to build for the future, leaving space in my city centres for future projects. In Tropico 6, this just isn’t going to work. I found out early that I had to give up that prime real-estate for more urgently needed buildings. I couldn’t have my teamsters trucking from one half of the map to the other, just in case I decided to build a library in the city centre later. Those pineapples won’t deliver themselves!

I ended up playing more economically, but as a result, I found the whole saga much easier. I could afford to relocate the city centre with that sweet pineapple dollar. The more familiar challenge of those pesky rebel scum was a fun as ever, and I was able to deal with that problem in the traditional way: deadly force and propaganda. This was made especially enjoyable with the return of the election promise speeches, after being vacant in the fifth instalment.

It feels like the next instalment of this beloved series is on track to being spectacular. Tropico 6 still has the successful makeup of political comedy and silly antics – but this time it seems to have been built upon more ambitious and challenging city builder.

Tropico 6 is due out in January 2019 on PC, Xbox One and PS4. Pre-order now from Amazon.