The life of El Presidente just got a lot more complicated. The days of starting up Tropico, surveying your island in 20 minutes or less, and executing some game-winning strategy are over. In Tropico 5, everything is connected--from the salary of a lowly dock worker all the way up to the state of international relations. These connections form a web of intrigue that is besieged by problems at home and abroad. The hope is that this constant ebb and flow of island politics will force players to be constantly reevaluating their leadership style, as opposed to the stringent strategies of other empire management games, such as Sid Meier's Civilization V. Being a successful dictator means manipulating any situation to your advantage, even if it means completely reinventing your empire along the way.
According to series producer Bisser Dyankov, Tropico 5 is designed to be much denser than its predecessors. Your citizens are at the heart of everything; they're the lifeblood of your island. You need them to grow your empire, and they need you to make them happy. Of course, one man's happiness is another man's frustration. Your islanders may be loyalists or separatists, communists or capitalists, theocrats or bureaucrats--or some mixture thereof. And their allegiances may change depending on the sort of government you run or the buildings you build. In fact, change is one of the few constants your island will enjoy.
Tropico 5's landscape is ever-changing, and no single strategy will carry you across the finish line. Yesterday's solutions are tomorrow's problems.
This roll-with-the-punches style of leadership flies in the face of other strategy games. For example, running a successful empire in Civilization V typically means deciding on a road map before the end of the first turn. Are you going to pursue a cultural victory with the French, or perhaps a domination victory with the Zulu? The challenge is then adhering to this road map as strictly as possible, regardless of what twists and turns the game throws your way. Tropico 5 wants to be the polar opposite with a focus on adaptability and flexibility. Its landscape is ever-changing, and no single strategy will carry you across the finish line. Yesterday's solutions are tomorrow's problems.
Even the role of El Presidente will change from time to time. No man is an island after all, not even the ruler of a tropical paradise. In Tropico 5, members of El Presidente's family earn special skills that can be enhanced using the family's Swiss bank account. When you feel a family member is ready to lead, you can assign him or her as your candidate for the next election. You can also carry over your family from one game of Tropico 5 to another, but only after the previous game is completed. El Presidente's family is talented, but not talented enough to be in several different games simultaneously.
Like previous games, Tropico 5 will have a single-player campaign--one the developers think will rely less on predetermined events and more on naturally occurring chaos through the game's many interconnected systems. If single-player leaves you feeling lonely, you can team up with up to three other players in online multiplayer. You will all receive a spot on the same island and can share services and resources with each other, a la SimCity. Unlike in SimCity, however, you can start bumping borders with your neighbors and, if you're not careful, end up in full-scale island warfare.
Being a successful El Presidente in Tropico 5 means seeing the big picture and understanding how all these different threads connect to one another. An expensive military base may prove to be an invaluable military asset early in the game, only to slip into obsolescence years later before finally being recommissioned as a tourist attraction. Capitalizing on the United States' Prohibition laws by smuggling in a little booze will turn you a handsome profit, but will also attract criminals to your island who could disrupt an already turbulent political climate. On the sun-bleached shores of Tropico, you must be able to see the forest for the palm trees.