Tropico 5 Preview (PC)
Gooooddd Morning Tropico! Kalypso, bless their hearts, may not have as many success stories as they’d like, but they can always count on the Tropico franchise to do well. Ever since Haemimont took the reins, the Tropico games have actually been pretty good, and now they’re set to get even better with Tropico 5. Not content with just making minor, iterative improvements like Tropico 4, the team are going all out in the fifth edition of the charming island management sim. Everything, from the structure, to the mechanics, to little things like building and politics are being overhauled and changed for El Presidente’s latest adventure.
|Even the farms are more compact and orderly. No more sprawling corn fields.|
Sadly a lot of what we were told was just their ‘plan’ for the game – there was painfully little to actually see with our own eyes at Kalypso’s GamesCom booth this year. This means that the question of whether not everything will in fact go according to plan remains to be seen, still it all sounds promising so far. As for what we have seen – the engine is looking as slick as ever, although there’s been a subtle but noticeable change in the art style. The team have also changed the actual placing and developing of your island to a grid system. No longer can you place things in a freeform way – everything is going to be slightly more uniform and ordered. The team have also added ‘fog of war’ to the game: you no longer have the whole island revealed to you from the start, instead you have to explore the island (although how you do this hasn’t been explained), discovering what resources are where, and any ruins or other buildings you can make use of. And that’s about it as far as features we’ve been able to see with our own eyes – apart from some of the interfaces of other features which we’ll go into in a moment.
The biggest chance about the game, although not easily noticeable from screenshots, is how the game itself progresses. Haemimont have discovered this revolutionary concept called ‘time’, specifically with how it seems to move forward. Jokes aside, Tropico 5 will feature ‘eras’ that the player will progress through, with each era coming with its own unique gameplay challenges and supposedly even mechanics. For example, the start point from a game will be the colonial era, and you’re not El Presidente but a colonial governor acting on behalf of the crown. In this era, you have to do what the crown tells you to do, and they’ll continually keep trying to exploit you until you fail or you fight for your own independence. Other eras include the World Wars, where it has been hinted that you’ll play a fairly pivotal role. Key to these concepts is combat, which won’t be changed hugely, but Haemimont have said you’ll be able to exert more direct control over your armed forces. They don’t want to turn this into an RTS however.
It wouldn’t be Tropico without the temptation, however, the tongue-in-cheek questions of morality that you as El Presidente face. Do you donate this money to the country, or keep it in your own personal bank account? Do you devote all your resources, or do you skim a bit off the top? These ideas will be back in force, along with some added extras: when you declare independence, you’ll have to draft a constitution, which can change over time. International powers may put pressure on you to have this clause or that clause. They’ll be more edicts and programs you can enact, like Child Labour, which we know you’ve ALL been looking forward to.
|The islands will be bigger than this, and more shrouded, but you get the idea...|
To round up some of the rest of the changes, here’s a run-down of some of the other stuff we were told about: El Presidente isn’t going to be a strangely age-less dictator anymore. He will grow old, and he will die. With luck, you’ll have seen sense to take a wife and have children by them, and your children will take over from you. Imagine CK2, just set in a Caribbean banana republic, and you get the idea. You can also give important government positions to family members, if you wish. Trade has also been revamped, in the sense that you can play a more active part in it. You’ll have your own trade fleets, and you’ll have to pay closer attention to what everything is worth. Micro-management of your individual buildings and industries has been streamlined a bit, and you can hire ‘managers’ to do a lot of the work for you. There’s also going to be multiplayer in the game – competitively and co-operatively, with up to four players on the same island, and that’s not to mention the new research system, which we imagine ties into the new progression of the game.
All in all, Tropico 5 sounds extremely promising. Haemimont may have had a blip with Omerta, but Tropico is a franchise they know and love and there’s no reason to suspect at this stage that they won’t deliver on what they promise. I for one am looking forward to seeing some of these changes in action, and I hope you guys all are too. It’s definitely a good time to be El Presidente. Tropico 5 is slated for an early 2014 release.
Most Anticipated Feature: The Eras and how they change the nature of the game sound intriguing. Plus, I’m going to relish finally being able to control my troops.