Every year, I try to play at least one new city builder. When done correctly, the genre provides a type of satisfaction that is distinct from anything else. Building a city from scratch and managing a city successfully is fulfilling because you are in control of just about everything that happens in your city. Just play games like Cities: Skylines or Surviving Mars, and you’ll understand just what I mean.
The popular and long-running Tropico series is one that I’ve always been intrigued by but never had the pleasure of playing. Just on its tropical setting alone is a deviation from the urban sprawl found in most city builders. We are brought to lush island escapes to create the perfect city. It also has a unique personality that differentiates itself from other games in the genre.
At E3 2018, we saw the next iteration of Kalypso Media’s city-builder, Tropico 6, this time developed by Limbic Entertainment. From what we saw, it looks to be an approachable game for newcomers while still providing a challenge for veterans of the series.
The first thing that caught my eye was the visuals. By no means is it the most beautiful game I have ever seen but its bright colors and island environment was a welcome sight. The vibrant blue oceans along with the various locations — which vary from tropical beaches to active volcanoes — diversify the gameplay to some extent, keeping things interesting.
One of the features they showed us was the new tunneling system. If your city is more on the mountainous or hilly side, instead of terraforming to make the island flat, you can add tunnels for your citizens to transport through. However, you won’t plot the roads within the tunnels. Instead, you only pick an entrance and an exit, disregarding any obstacles that would come with building multiple tunnels within one hillside. Theoretically, you can plot four tunnels that cross each other without the repercussions. When I asked about that decision, it was to maintain the fun gameplay Tropico is known for.
Another feature that was focused on was the citizens’ productivity. Clicking on a citizen will show their particular needs and expectations. From what I gathered, it seems that you’ll have to put into account the citizen’s day-to-day schedule to make an efficient city. Instead of making clear boundaries between workplaces and housing, it may be more beneficial to spread out the type of buildings you’re constructing to meet the needs of most citizens.
All the gameplay that was shown were from a few different Campaign Mode missions. These were all objective based with cities that were already built. Again, I see this as another way Tropico 6 helps diversify gameplay. If you don’t want to play a mode with more explicit goals, this allows you to do just that.
Tropico 6 looks like it will be a fun time. What we were shown mostly delved into the mechanics rather than the goofiness that the series is known for. The gorgeous environments and engaging gameplay had me interested. Hopefully, Tropico 6 will engross me like some city-builders before it.