El Presidente has had some time off since his last adventure and it seems he has learned a few new tricks. The progression that Haemimont Games has made since Tropico 4 is simply impressive. Tropico 5 stands as a new direction for a franchise that can possibly move out of its niche and become a force to be reckoned with in the strategy/simulation genre.
It is recommended that even if you are a seasoned resident of Tropico that you partake in the tutorial this time around. There are massive additions to the game that completely change the ins and outs. A lot of the menus and mechanics are streamlined such as no longer needing garages to have everyone travel around the island faster, by default everyone moves via cars. The major additions to gameplay rely on what is essentially a tech tree that you progressively research and advance through the ages. At first you are growing your empire slowly and obeying ‘The Crown’ until you become powerful enough to create a Constitution and declare your independence. From there you are allowed to side with whomever you want. During the pre-cold war era that would be allied or axis. You can develop trade routes with them which may or may not anger the others, it becomes a lot more tactical than in the past and military is significantly more important with invading forces, pirates, and even upset countries. El Presidente no longer has to just worry about a coup.
The island you decide to claim also has some new characteristics. Fog of war has set in and you have to pay to send out prospectors from one of your army bases or El Presidente’s mansion to clear the fog. Hostile tribes, and animals can be a pain to come across so it is helpful to clear that fog. Later on you are able to purchase a building that allows you to reveal the entire island, but at the beginning prospectors are useful for discovering mines. No longer will you be able to just look at the colored grid and pick any old place to put your mine, there are now set mines randomly generated each map in the mountains that each have different ores that you can pillage for. Natural disasters return and can be just as debilitating as the past.
The main draw is the new eras aspect, you will take your island from the colonial times to the 21st century meanwhile trying to create a nation to shape as your own. There are new edicts, a ton of new buildings, and the ability to draft your own version of the constitution is pretty nice as well. The new dynasty aspect has El Presidente have the opportunity to name heirs to his empire. Throughout the course of the game in various circumstances opportunities to name heirs will occur, such as an illegitimate child that you can either denounce, or admit and take them as your heir. You will mold them and customize them how you see fit. Along with El Presidente, you and your heirs will be able to level up as you progress by going to the Dynasty tab and paying to level up which increases their benefits. Each character has a five level maximum. Members of your dynasty can be appointed as managers (more on that in a minute), generals of your various army buildings, or ambassadors.
Each building will still have workers and some will have upgrades as well. Managers, are special people you can appoint for bonuses to the building or surrounding buildings they are appointed at. Such as increased productivity, increase beauty in the area, or lower pollution and so on. It is a new addition but it really adds a new depth to micro-managing every building that is under your regime. Researching new technology like paper, and tanks is a huge part of the new gameplay additions. By building a library you earn research points, but other intellectual type buildings can eventually help earn this such as colleges. Your total amount of research earnings is calculated into how long each research will take to complete, some take 12 months, others will take just a month or so. It’s a great addition that allows you to progress in an awesome way throughout the centuries.