The last few Tropico titles have run through the 20th Century’s big events at a bit of a break-neck pace, with technological advancements and historical events happening in rapid fire. In Tropico 6, the campaign is presented differently: rather than playing a linear narrative, we’ll be hearing El Presidente’s reminiscences as he and his second in command, Penultimo, enjoy post-dictatorial retirement.
“You see Penultimo starting every mission, basically, with something like ‘Remember back then?’” said Mark Messler, a level designer with Limbic Entertainment, the studio that’s handling Tropico 6 this time around in place of long-time series developer Haemimont Games.
Like its predecessor, Tropico 6 will span four distinct eras: Colonial, World War, Cold War, and Modern. In an early mission, we see a surprisingly inhospitable island environment covered in desert and active volcanoes. But El Presidente has no plans to stick around – as Penultimo explains, this is an episode from his youth as a plundering pirate.
The ‘fond memories’ framing device allows Tropico 6 a bit more freedom in its mission starts, as there’s no need to stick to a specific timeline. You’ll jump from the Colonial era to the Cold War, for instance, with no need to play through the World Wars in between. Many of the locations have their own themes, and missions will take place across 15 campaign maps.
Any of the campaign maps can be played in sandbox mode, which has its own set of 15 maps. Sandbox mode simply strips out the mission-specific setting and start conditions out and lets you play your favorite locations however you’d like.
Messler showed off a few additional new features coming to Tropico in this sixth outing. As El Presidente, you will now be able to customize your palace – or ‘governor’s mansion,’ if you insist – with your own color schemes. Add a crowd of flailing inflatable wavy-arm tube men to the gardens. Put an aquarium on the roof, or install a glowing hologram of yourself. You get the idea.
Add all this to what we already know about sending commandos out to steal iconic landmarks from around the world, and Tropico 6 is shaping up to be another enjoyably silly banana republic simulator.
Tropico 6 is on Steam, and it’s due for launch in January 2019.