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.