E3 2017: Tropico 6 Channels The Absurdity Of Modern Politics In El Presidente's Return To Power


During the week of E3, we saw the announcement of a brand new Tropico game coming to PS4, Xbox One, and PC. As the sixth entry of the series, Tropico aims to shake things up a bit by expanding the nation’s reach, to go along with El Presidente’s growing ambitions, and also bringing on a new developer and visual look to accompany its new vision. Though this series has been around for some time, it’s hard to deny that this game, featuring a chauvinistic, egomaniacal ruler in public office, feels like a rather timely release. And given its obvious allusions to Trump-era antics, such as the modern era’s focus on social media and outreach, it’ll be interesting to see how much of El Presidente’s mischief will feel too cartoonish, or a little too real. While on the show floor during E3, we got to see just what’s in store for the next entry, and just how El Presidente’s ambitions have grown since the last outing.

Much like its predecessors, Tropico 6 is set in the titular country of Tropico, where players will take on the role of El Presidente–an up and coming ruler with ambitions for his budding nation in the Caribbean sea. Of course, how you choose to rule the country is up to you, and over the course of four eras–colonial, wartime, cold war, and modern eras–your legacy will be determined by your actions. With your constituents ready to show their disapproval based on your decisions relating to improving the economy, infrastructure, and generally how you present yourself during speeches and public displays of power, El Presidente has many options at his disposal. Should the ruler go full-on dictator and rule with fear, become the true leader that the nation needs by respecting the people, or become a true politician and ride the fine line between both. In Tropico 6, El Presidente unfortunately calls the shots, and usually whatever he wants, he gets.

Referred to as a ‘dictatorship simulator’ by the developers at Limbic Entertainment, Tropico 6 keeps the series’ traditions going by focusing on letting players build their nation up however they see fit. The El Presidente of Tropico 6, however, has far more ambitions plans in mind, and it’ll take expanding beyond the singular island to accomplish them. For the first time, players will be able to build up bridges and other transportation connections to other islands around Tropico–which is now an archipelago–giving you more space and applications for your many resources. During our presentation, we saw El Presidente build a series of factories on another island, which allowed him to ferry workers from the core island. Once production went up, residential areas were needed, and along with that came entertainment, schools, and other places to keep the new island’s people busy and happy. Managing morale is important in how you choose to operate in Tropico 6, regardless if you’re a benevolent leader or chauvinistic dictator.

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One thing the developers wanted to focus more on was variety. In terms of visuals, there are many variations to the topography of the Tropico archipelago, making each new campaign feel different and unique from one another. Moreover, players will be able to shift resources and move around installations–such as factories, plantations, and residential and commercial space–much easier this time around. With the focus on expanding the nation, there came the need to upgrade infrastructure gameplay, which is now a far bigger focus in Tropico 6. City management and general layout form a big part of the nation’s identity, which also has an influence in general flow of the all important economy, but also how its citizens will be able to navigate around the archipelago.

Of course, defining your El Presidente is a big part of the experience in Tropico, and there’s far more room for expressing their voice this time around. Over the course of the 15 story missions, which go across four unique eras with differing political and economic climates. For instance, campaign and state of the nation speeches now make a return, which allows players to select key points during their speeches when it comes to speaking to the populace, which will affect morale and present the ruler with key political opportunities. Moreover, El Presidente may even have an eye on building a singular installation–like even a wall, if you will–within the nation of Tropico, which can be a major talking point for your speeches, and even be used as an effective and iconic way to rally your base.

In order for the ruler of Tropico to stay on top–regardless if things are going the country’s way–El Presidente must use Bold Actions to show off the nation’s strength. Coming in a variety of forms, such as ordering key political actions, the ruler can order for heists to take place. In the new raid command–which opens up after completing specific story missions and scoring major resources–El Presidente can send strike teams to other countries and steal iconic landmarks and other resources from other countries. As you could see in the trailer, El Presidente decides to steal the Statue of Liberty and place it right in the land of Tropico. Of course, whether this will be seen as an ironic take on the concept of liberty, or just another wild and somewhat bizarre show strength from a maniac in public office depends entirely on the character you decide to go with. Each era of El Presidente’s reign focuses on building or stealing a specific structure, and what you decide to build will forever shape Tropico’s status on the world stage.

The presentation was largely brief, but we got the sense that Tropico 6 is a rather sizable upgrade over its predecessors. As far as city building games go, the Tropico series easily has the most character and style associated with it. With the Not-Cuba setting in full swing here, complete with a full-on Afro-cuban jazz soundtrack and new visuals powered by Unreal Engine 4, Tropico 6’s style and presentation has never looked better. And with a strong focus on building up your own version of El Presidente, even letting you customize your own palace, it’ll be interesting to see how the ruler of the country will change over the course of the game, especially with the present era being depicted for the first time. Will they be a sorely incompetent man obsessed with poll numbers and building stuff, or a reasonably qualified and respectful man just trying to do the best job he can. That’s all up to you, but it’ll surely be interesting and oddly satisfying to see play out.

For more info on Tropico 6 and other titles that were shown during E3 2017, be sure to visit our E3 hub page.

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