In the early days of March 2000, Augusto Pinochet was released and flew back to Chile after two years of house arrest in the UK – just over a year after, in April 2001, the first Tropico game launched worldwide. Now, I’m not going to speculate as to whether these two events were related, but let’s just say that two years locked in a house is plenty of time to plan the development of a strategy-management-city builder game. I’m just saying.
Approximately 21 years later (curse you Father Time!) Tropico 6 – Next Gen Edition is here. An upgrade to 2019’s Tropico 6, it brings with it a host of new features and additions designed to make the most of Series X|S hardware, as well as packing in the Llama of Wall Street and El Prez DLC packs. So, if you’ve spent months breaking your back on the corn plantation, saving up your Tropican Dollars to upgrade your game, you’ll be wanting to know what you get for your hard-earned money.
For anyone who isn’t sure what the Tropico series is all about, you assume the role of a dictator on a small island paradise, you decide whether to be an evil Kim Jong-Un kind of leader, or more of a benevolent Hank Scorpio type. Building up your island, providing for the needs of your citizens, fending off revolutions and winning elections are all in a day’s work. They are generally laid-back affairs that get increasingly more complex and brow-sweat-inducing as you delve deeper into the complexities of economics, politics and a variety of social issues.
Tropico 6 is the latest game in the series, and has recently received a next gen upgrade for you lucky Series X|S owners out there. If you want to learn more about the base game and its mechanics before we delve into what’s new with this enhanced edition of the game I’d highly recommend treating yourself to a read of our Tropico 6 review from the game’s initial launch in 2019. If you’re an experienced El Presidente and want to know not what you can do for your country, but what your country can do for you, read on.
The most tangible addition to the Tropico 6 Next Gen Edition is the inclusion of both DLC packs as part of the bundle. The Llama of Wall Street expansion adds a variety of new content such as a new mission, map, buildings and events. Its chief contribution to the overall game, however, is in how it impacts the financial aspect of the game; adding a new dimension of strategy by causing the price of goods to fluctuate in accordance with the stock market which can be played and influenced by the player to make (or lose) fat stacks of greenbacks. It slots so naturally into the game’s economic systems that it feels like it should always have been there, and is well worth delving into if you enjoy the economy management side of things, without really detracting for those who find staring at numbers and spreadsheets painful.
The El Prez pack is somewhat less impactful, adding a few new buildings and a costume for your character, as well as a digital soundtrack that will be sure to melt your icy heart with its warm island songs. It’s nice, but unlikely to be a major selling point on its own.
If you’re purchasing the Next Gen Edition of Tropico 6, you’re likely doing so because you own a Series X|S console and want to reap the benefits of doing so. So what do you get in terms of performance? Well, much like buying a pack of Haribo and finding a piece of dog poo in it – it’s a bit of a mixed bag.
Tropico 6 is the first case, in my experience, of a next gen upgrade actually providing noticeable gameplay differences, beyond the usual performance and visual aspects; the previous-gen version of Tropico 6 had a population limit of 6000 citizens, which has now been increased to 10,000. For those of you who enjoy expansive sandbox sessions which can last months at a time, this will be a cause for joy as your upper limit for expansion has increased dramatically. It’s nice to see this kind of thoughtful use of the Series X|S’s improved processing power and shows the kind of benefits that can be found beyond just whacking the resolution up to 4K and being done with it.
Speaking of 4K, there’s an issue that needs addressing here; you see, playing the original, none-next gen version of Tropico on the Series X is a smooth affair; everything runs smoothly, the graphics are about as nice as you would expect them to be, and you an even switch it up to 4K mode without any loss of performance. Booting up Tropico 6 Next Gen Edition initially feels much the same, the colours pop with HDR, the game runs smoothly, it seems like anti-aliasing has been turned on, as everything looks ever so slightly smoother when zoomed out. However, switching to 4K mode is a whole other story – the previously smooth framerate became a jerky mess akin to playing Mortal Kombat for the Game Boy.
It’s very confusing, as Tropico 6 didn’t look bad before and ran fine in 4K, and the Next Gen Edition offers minimal noticeable graphical improvements, yet the performance takes such a nosedive that you would think you’d asked your Series X to monitor the large hadron collider. It’s deeply disappointing, but as Tropico games aren’t generally the most graphically taxing, I can only assume that it’s perhaps a frame-pacing issue that could be fixed with a patch. I would hope so, because without noticeable graphical and performance improvements, these paid next-gen upgrades aren’t worth the money.
So, is Tropico 6 Next Gen Edition worthy of re-election? Well, there’s definitely value to be found if you don’t own the DLC packs, the upgrade price is roughly the same as buying both of them and for the hardcore fan the population cap increase will be a nice addition. Graphically and performance wise, the game ranges from not much better to quite a lot worse, though. It’s a real shame, as this could have been a straight upgrade, and it would be nice to see a patch address the framerate issues.
Fortunately, it is only the 4K mode that is hit, the game runs flawlessly otherwise, so for the most part Tropico 6 – Next Gen Edition is worth it if you’ve enjoyed any of the previous Tropico games and would like to try the new one for the first time, or if you just couldn’t quite fit enough golden statues of yourself on your island without causing the game to lag.
Tropico 6 – Next Gen Edition is available from the Xbox Store