Tropico 5 Gameplay


Tropico 5 is a city builder with a twist. You will have to manage internal struggles between opposing factions and deal with demands from foreign powers. In this Tropico 5 review I will evaluate all aspects of gameplay of the newest Tropico and compare Tropico 5 with Tropico 4.


City builder

In Tropico the player, or El Presidenté, has to run an island like a true dictator. El Presidenté decides pretty much everything. Every building has to be ordered and paid for by the treasury. Buildings include housing, plantations, industries, churches, police stations, etc. Although there is no direct control over where your Tropicans go to work their decision can be influenced by changing the wages of individual buildings. Paying double on a logging camp certainly makes this building more interesting then that factory job. To offset all these costs every penny earned flows in the Island treasury.

In the end you will need to generate profits with production buildings or tourism. Your population happiness is determined by ; Safety, Entertainment, Food, Healthcare, Housing, Job quality, Liberty and Religion.

Tropico 5 Review Happiness overview

Balancing happiness, expenditures and income is challenging.

Loyal subjects?

What if your Tropicans do not like you and demand elections? For this scenario, that happens a lot in Tropico 5, you have a wide range of options available. Here are a few

  • Influence the voting results
  • Issue martial law and use your army to cancel elections.
  • Bribe, kill or banish opposing faction leaders
  • Buy love by providing everyone with a tax cut.

All of these actions will result in civil unrest, rebels and uprisings. So once you go down this road you better make sure that you have a decent army and that they are loyal!

Tropico 5 review factions overview

It is nearly impossible to keep everyone happy (although there is an achievement for it). Especially the constitution adds a lot of options. I will come back to that later. For now let’s say Tropico 5 is plenty of challenging.

Foreign powers

The third aspect of the game are the foreign powers. Influential factions such as the United States and Russia have to be dealt with. If you take actions they do not like they will lower their foreign aid. If relations really go south they will invade your island. In Tropico 5 several foreign powers rise and fall during the game. Think of the Allies and Axis which will be replaced by USA and USSR.

This aspect of the game is least interesting. Usually dealing with these powers involves exporting x goods, paying a fee or fighting the other faction. Not very interesting.

What is new to Tropico 5


Tropico 5 features a Dynasty instead of a single president. During the game you will be presented with options to recruit new Dynasty members. Each member has a specific trait that acts as a global bonus to your island. For example the Cheapskate will lower construction cost by 4% whereas the Agent will help detect rebel leaders. Your dynasty can have up to 7 members that can be upgraded to level 5 (or retired). Each election one Dynasty member can run for president, this will double the Global effect bonus. The other Dynasty members can be employed as managers to boost specific buildings.

Tropico 5 review dynasties

Overall I feel the Dynasty is an improvement over the original system. It provides a reason to care about your Swiss bank account numbers.

Tropico 5 Era’s

Where Tropico 3 and 4 played out during the Cold War, Tropico 5 starts in the colonial era. Think steam ships, catholic missions, workers with carts, etc. Your island pretty much runs on plantations, ranches and logging camps. At this point of time healthcare and safety are non-existant and thus cannot be pleased.

Tropico 5 review the colonial era

Basically World War means heavy industrialization with factories such as Rum Distillery, Sigar Factory, Textile Mill, Steel Mill, etc. The era also unlocks service buildings such as the Clinic and Police Station. During the world war the player has to juggle between the Axis and Allies. Steel can be exported to the Axis for a premium, but this upsets the allies. When relations get cold enough they will attack your island. In Tropico  5 this means serious combat.

The Cold War era unlocks Tourism and more advanced industries such as the Vehicle Factory and Pharmaceutical company. Service options are extended with better buildings such as Hospitals replacing Clinics. This is the era where stings start to go vertical thanks to TV towers, Apartment buildings and large Cathedrals.

The modern era unlocks the final buildings. Plantations get replaced by hydroponic farms and the Chocolate and Electronics factories are unlocked. Unfortunately this era seems least balanced. There are some factories that produce insane profits, whereas others can only cost money.

Tropico 5 review the modern era

The era’s are an interesting concept. They force you to make the best of your ranches and plantations in the early stages of the game. You might actually get attached to them and keep them around. For me personally this never happened in Tropico 4. It also makes sure the player is not overwhelmed by construction options. Most stuff that was introduced in Tropico 4 Modern times DLC is also included in Tropico 5; Cruise ship, Aerodrome, Vehicle Factory, Electronics Factory, Automated mine, etc.

Tropico 5 Research

Read more on the next page!