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E3 2019: Romero’s Empire of Sin Covers Gang Warfare, Goon Feelings


Nintendo’s E3 2019 press conference was a love letter to, of all things, tactical RPGs. Between new Zelda announcements and Pokémon reveals, Nintendo gave Fire Emblem: Three Houses a lavish new trailer, unveiled an adaptation of the upcoming Dark Crystal Netflix series that looks like Final Fantasy Tactics by way of Wallace and Gromit, and most unlikely of all, announced Romero Games’ Empire of Sin. Prohibition-era gang warfare simulators conceived by legendary creators Brenda Romero (Jagged Alliance) and John Romero (Doom) don’t exactly slot easily in the spaces between Animal Crossing trailers.

Empire’s dissimilarity to its Nintendo neighbours aside, reports from the E3 show floor are already describing it as a dizzyingly elaborate title. The game’s trailer leaned heavily on its X-COM influenced isometric, turn-based combat, but supposedly going in tommy guns blazing will be only one of your numerous, interconnected responsibilities. Micromanaging everything from your pipeline of illicit booze to the equipment and mood of your thugs will play a role in enabling long-term victory, and the political web of intergang relations will need to be constantly monitored and tweaked.

Our own Yahtzee Croshaw reports from Los Angeles that the game has “an incredibly complex set of systems, including hired goon relationship mechanics, and a story emphasis. Sort of thing complex enough that 15 minutes wouldn’t be enough to make design problems clear.” Hold on a minute — hired goon relationship mechanics, story emphasis, brief windows of time not being sufficient to reveal potential, unpredictable knock-on catastrophes down the line … forget The Dark Crystal, we’ve got a stealth Miller’s Crossing adaptation on our hands!

Brenda Romero — whose nearly 40-year career in games has spanned from the Wizardry series to Jagged Alliance to several Dungeons & Dragons adaptations — knows a thing or two about interweaving complex mechanics, so this one looks to be in pretty safe hands. John Romero, the other half of this video game royalty power couple, certainly knows something about satisfying digital gun play.

Empire of Sin is coming out early next year, for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC.

About the author

Yahtzee Croshaw
Yahtzee is the Escapist’s longest standing talent, having been writing and producing its award winning flagship series, Zero Punctuation, since 2007. Before that he had a smattering of writing credits on various sites and print magazines, and has almost two decades of experience in game journalism as well as a lifelong interest in video games as an artistic medium, especially narrative-focused. He also has a foot in solo game development - he was a big figure in the indie adventure game scene in the early 2000s - and writes novels. He has six novels published at time of writing with a seventh on the way, all in the genres of comedic sci-fi and urban fantasy. He was born in the UK, emigrated to Australia in 2003, and emigrated again to California in 2016, where he lives with his wife and daughters. His hobbies include walking the dog and emigrating to places.