Tropico 6 PC review: One of the best city-building simulators, ever

Surprisingly, Tropico is one of the most engaging city builders I've ever played.

Windows Central Recommended Award

Have you ever wanted to know what it's like to be a dictator, ruling over a populace with an iron fist as you sit at the head of a banana republic? If so, Tropico 6, a brand new city-building simulator, will be right up your alley. Set in a fictional, miniature island nation known as Tropico, the game puts you in the shoes of "El Presidente," and your goal is to turn the tropical rainforests and sandy beaches into a thriving empire.

With its surprising amount of depth, excellent polish, great presentation, and smooth performance, Tropico 6 has ultimately become my new favorite title to go to whenever I want to play a city builder.

Will you be kind or cruel?

In Tropico 6, there are two main ways that you can rule over your populace. You can either remain an honest, good-natured Presidente that listens to what his people want, or you can be a corrupt authoritarian overlord that subjugates the population by force. The choice is ultimately up to you, and both styles of play are vastly different from one another. The "kind" route requires extensive infrastructure development, listening to the demands of the people, and making sure the economy is booming, while the "cruel" style tasks you with maintaining a strong military and snuffing out organized rebellions. You can also ride the gray area between the two, bribing an official or rigging an election only once in awhile. Ultimately, the choice is up to you, and experimenting with all the different systems in the game is a blast.

Truly one of the best city-building games of all time.

When it comes to the city-building aspect of the game, Tropico doesn't bring much new to the table. You have your standard residential, commercial, and industrial balance to maintain, and investing in education, transportation, and exports are all important aspects of keeping your nation happy and healthy. These mechanics are well-designed and engaging.

Where Tropico 6 starts to feel truly special is with what I'll call its "executive mechanics," or the systems that your role as El Presidente allows you to manipulate. Is there a known rebel sympathizer hiding out in an apartment complex? You can have him assassinated. Rival candidate starting to look like he'll beat you in the upcoming election? Bribe him to step down from the race, or declare that there won't be elections in Tropico. Of course, the people will react dynamically to these "executive orders," so you'll need to be prepared to handle the fallout.

On-screen paradise that's smooth as butter

Visually, Tropico 6 is stunning. For a city builder, the texture quality is excellent, and the lighting is gorgeous. The tropical islands of your nation are filled with vibrantly-colored locations, and the urban areas are a melting pot of different sights and sounds. The musical score is great, as well, offering a variety of salsa and reggae tracks that suit the tropical-island-dictatorship theme perfectly.

Tropico 6 is visually stunning.

My favorite thing, though, is the writing. The quips of both average citizens and named characters in your nation poke fun at dictatorship stereotypes, and they're written and voice-acted well enough that they always got a laugh out of me. My personal favorite was when my own El Presidente character lamented on his desire to arrest someone, "just to see the look on their face."

One criticism I do have is that the user interface can become a little cluttered, since there are what feels like a million different menus that you can access at any given time. It's not terrible, but I do think some smaller menus would go a long way to make the process of managing your nation feel more streamlined.

Performance wise, Tropico 6 runs excellently, and I didn't encounter a single bug, freeze, or drop in framerate during my review period. That isn't something I can say for many games.

Should you buy Tropico 6?

I wasn't sure what to expect when I went into Tropico 6, but I came out in love. It's truly one of the best city building games of all time, and it has an excellent amount of polish, depth, and satire that all help it feel like a unique experience. The cluttered interface is a downside, but it's hardly one that impacts the overall gameplay much.

Ultimately, Tropico 6 is a game that any fan of city builders will enjoy, and I highly recommend checking it out if you're one of those people.


  • Excellent gameplay experience.
  • Awesome presentation.
  • Buttery-smooth performance.


  • Cluttered user interface.

Tropico 6 is out now on PC for $50.

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.