For many people, the act of running a city, a country or a political organisation is a constant headache. Being the mayor of London, or the President of the United States, is no doubt an often thankless job, with many unpaid late nights and the constant threat of the population becoming dissatisfied. Put simply, there are very few of us who would actually want to be in this position, however much we might say we do.
That won’t stop us from loving tycoon games, though. If you’re unfamiliar with the genre, tycoon games task players with the day-to-day management and upkeep of an organisation or entity, be it a country, city or even a single high-rise apartment building. It might be a nightmare scenario for most of us to be landed with this kind of job in real life, but the video game equivalent is somehow usually leagues more enjoyable. This is a thriving genre, and there are plenty of gems to look forward to in 2019. Here are just a few of the tycoon games you should look out for next year.
The Architect: Paris (TBC)
We’re kicking off with a game that might not actually be released in 2019, but we’d be very, very surprised if we didn’t see this one next year. The Architect: Paris offers an interesting twist on the standard city-building tycoon game; rather than simply managing the expectations and desires of the city’s denizens (although you will be doing plenty of that), you’ll also be designing all of the city’s buildings yourself, and everything you make will need to be micromanaged. If you’re a fan of Cities: Skylines or Project Highrise, this could well be your next obsession.
Tropico 6 (January 25th 2019)
Ah, the Tropico series. Like its predecessors, Tropico 6 definitely won’t be for everyone; you’ll need a strong taste for tongue-in-cheek humour and political commentary with your tycoon game if you want to play this one. The newest instalment in a long-running series that sees players take control of a banana republic, Tropico 6 promises a number of new features including multiple islands, a new research system and an overhauled espionage mechanic. Tropico 6 has already been delayed once, but it’s on track to release early next year.
Industries of Titan (2019)
Industries of Titan will do very nicely for those who think the prior two games on this list are a little too prosaic. If you’ve ever wanted to found and maintain your very own city on the moon, this game will scratch that itch, although you’ll have to settle for Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, rather than our own. You’ll engage in all the standard city-building tycoon stuff: manage your economy, balance your budget and battle rival civilisations for supremacy. No word on a definite release date for this one yet, but 2019’s looking extremely likely.
Mashinky’s official Steam page lists the game’s release as coming in either 2019 or 2020, but we’d bet on a 2019 release if pushed. This one’s been in Early Access since October this year, and its initial user feedback is incredibly positive. If you’re a fan of games like Railroad Tycoon and Kalypso’s Railway Empire, then Mashinky is right up your street. The game’s maps are procedurally generated, leading to a different play experience every time, while the isometric interface and in-depth economic systems make this one a must for those who love to get lost in the minutiae of trains.
The Universim (TBA – 2019/2020)
Early Access makes concrete release dates a little tricky, doesn’t it? The Universim technically came out in August this year on Steam’s Early Access program, but a full release is still forthcoming. This is definitely one to watch, though, and if you prefer your Early Access games a little more fully-featured, 2019 will be The Universim’s year. Fans of Populous and Black and White would do well to look here, as The Universim allows players to take control of an entire planet, subtly guiding the actions and motivations of its agent populace and deciding whether they meet a benevolent or malevolent destiny.
Anno 1800 (February 26th 2019)
We would be fools not to mention the long-running and much-loved Anno series. If you’ve never played these games, they’re largely centred around the twin spires of city management and naval combat; previous entries have taken the past (Anno 1701, Anno 1404) and the future (Anno 2070, Anno 2205) as their time periods. This newest one returns to the historical focus that was most popular with the franchise’s fans, taking place during the Industrial Revolution in 1800. A new “blueprint” mode allows players to try city layouts before they commit, and there’s also a new “attractiveness” statistic which dictates how many tourists will visit your city and how happy they’ll be once they get there.
Ancient Cities (2019)
Finally, we have Ancient Cities, which is currently in development by the good folks at Uncasual Games. Billing itself as a “survival and strategy city builder based on ancient times”, Ancient Cities allows players to take control of a nomadic tribe prior to the Neolithic revolution. The game features extensive resource management and combat mechanics, which will see players coming up against rival tribes and factions who may have more advanced technologies. What’s unique about Ancient Cities is that it stops as antiquity does; you won’t be able to play during the time of the Roman Empire and beyond, so this is strictly a pre-classical experience.