Last updated on April 16th, 2019
I recently picked up Tropico 6 and so far have had enough time to play it for a few hours. What I’ve experienced so far is refreshing coming off of Tropico 5 – arguably the worst in the series to date. Tropico 6, on the other hand, feels more like an upgrade on what 4 gave us. But, 6 still has some quirks.
If you’re a fan of the Tropico series, you’re going to enjoy 6. If 5 made you hesitant, you should be happy to know that everything it did wrong has been fixed for 6. The overall gameplay has been improved exponentially and 6 finally feels like a worthy successor to 4.
That being said, there are a few quirks that still need to be patched – and I’m sure they will be, sooner than later.
First and foremost, tourism is effectively broken. Either the costs of operation are too high, or not enough tourists are coming to make hotels profitable; either way, it’s something that a lot of people are mentioning, myself included. Even if you’re filling hotels/skyscraper hotels up completely, they don’t seem to earn much more than a couple hundred $/month. Trying to bring in filthy rich tourists is almost pointless as their hotel options will always lose money regardless if they’re full or not.
Next is the lack of risk from the rebels and guerillas, and even the superpowers to a degree. You don’t even reaaalllly have to worry about them until the modern times, to a lot of people that’s an issue. All you need is a single army base and a couple of watchtowers on each island and you’re good to go, nothing else to worry about. Some people definitely might enjoy this as it makes Tropico 6 more of a casual city builder than anything, but not me. That said, once you get into modern times and even the cold war to a degree, the superpowers start to become potential issues. Being invaded can easily see your forces overwhelmed, but keeping the superpowers happy is easy enough.
Another thing mentioned by a lot of people is the extremely short distance that Tropicans are willing to travel for work. Basically, unless you’re building houses right beside your mines, factories, and whatever else, then you’re going to have shacks popping up around them. It doesn’t matter if you have 40 vacant residential spots just down the road, they’d rather build shacks 10ft away from work. Even “rich” and “filthy-rich” Tropicans sometimes refuse to move into the mansions just down the road from their jobs and instead opt to build a shack or simply go homeless. Mass transit options can help a bit, but it doesn’t seem like enough.
Another oddity that I’ve personally noticed but haven’t seen mentioned (much) is how it’s near-impossible to fulfill election promises, especially before the “Cold War” era. It can be literally impossible to finish some of the promises. Housing is one that I haven’t been able to raise much higher than 50% approval, and that’s using mid-game housing options with almost no homeless population. Even when using entirely end-game (modern times) options like modern apartments and tenements with electricity, housing happiness is almost impossible to bring above 50%.
Roads are also a pain. Due to the grid-based system used in Tropico 6, it can be difficult to make roads look “nice”. A lot of the time you’ll be struggling with trying to make a 90-degree corner work. This means you have to either stick with a straight grid pattern, or be happy with janky roads and unaligned buildings. It’s not a deal breaker, but if you were hoping for a Cities Skylines level of detail on the city-building side, it’s not here.
Something else worth mentioning is the lack of a campaign. There are campaign-like missions to undertake that basically run through the “history of El Presidente”, but that’s it. There’s no actual campaign with a start, middle, and end. Since Tropico has always been more of a sandbox than a campaign-oriented game, this isn’t a huge issue unless you were expecting more.
All-in-all, my first impressions of Tropico 6 have been good. Minus the few quirks I mentioned above, everything else is awesome. The soundtrack is great (one of the best imo), most gameplay mechanics are awesome, the new raid system is fun, and overall it’s just way better than Tropico 5. But, a word of warning, if you’ve played more than just Tropico 5 and simply didn’t like the formula, you probably won’t like 6 much either.