Buy low, sell high – the age-old fundamentals of commerce make for an intensely satisfying game experience. Games like Mount and Blade or Battle Brothers put the principles of supply and demand at the forefront of their economic systems. At the end of the day, however, those games center around conquest and combat; making a quick purse of gold by running goods from one town to the next is just another means of getting your troops paid, fed, and equipped.
Dust To The End, on the other hand, puts economics front and center. Starting with little more than a weapon and a handful of questionably-acquired cash, players wheel and deal their way across a post-apocalyptic wasteland. There are fights, of course – bandits, mutants, and radioactive zombies are everywhere – but these serve as little more than an obstacle to your goal of acquiring obscene wealth.
Behold, the thriving metropolis of Eagle Town.
The vast majority of your time in Dust To The End will be spent managing the logistics of your caravan. Each party member can only carry so much, so even if you can afford to corner the market on a particular product you’ll still need a way to transport it. You’ll also need to bring enough food and water to survive in the wastes – maybe a little extra in case something goes wrong. You can purchase carts and eventually vehicles to transport heavier loads, but each will need someone to operate it so you’ll need to hire more hands… who will, in turn, consume more food and water (and expect to be paid every month).
The quickest way to make money is to sell trade goods at a profit. In the game’s starting area, for example, you can buy cigarettes at Border Town and sell them for almost quadruple at Bai Sha. From there, you can use the profits to pick up some salt, which is in demand at Tucker Village. Sell the salt to buy soap, backtrack to Bai Sha where the soap will fetch a high price, then re-invest in limestone which you can bring back to Border Town. The game is full of regional trade networks like this one, and the player can invest in local industries in each town so they will produce more valuable goods.
As the game progresses, the player discovers more and more ways to engage in ruthless, unapologetic capitalism. Clear an underground bunker of hostiles, and you can convert it into a factory and produce goods of your own. You can even hire a merchant to sell the goods on your behalf, earning you monthly income without having to lift a finger. Eventually, you’ll even be able to buy shares of the wasteland’s trade routes, forcing competitors out of the market and earning still more passive income. All that extra money can go to improving your facilities, investing in local industry, or deploying a fleet of 18-wheelers to ferry goods all over. That, or you could just blow it all at the slot machines or blackjack tables.
If this was actually how investing worked I’d be a billionaire.
Dust To The End boasts a surprising number of minigames, from the aforementioned gambling to a neat board-game-like interface that’s used to steal market share from competing traders. Randomly-generated bunkers appear across the map, each giving the player one chance at a dungeon crawl for significant loot rewards and some new real estate. Managing your facilities adds a base-building mechanic, requiring you to balance power supply, food, and security as you expand your operations....
Read the full review on turnbasedlovers.com