Status map after a couple of dozen turns, with a little of the New World revealed

The main novelty in Imperialism II, compared to its predecessor, is the addition of the New World, which is unknown and has to be explored.[1] Unlike in Imperialism I, only part of the world is visible at the start: the Old World. The other half of the world is the New World, which must be explored by ships and explorers. The New World has resources that don't exist in the Old World; those resources are the precious materials (spices, silver, gold, gems and diamonds) and the luxuries (sugar cane, tobacco and fur). And you can attack a New World tribe without declaring war.

Another difference between the games, not affecting gameplay, is that Imperialism II starts in the 16th century during the Age of exploration whereas Imperialism starts in the 19th century during the Industrial Revolution.[2]

Building a ship takes one member of the population, but building a civilian does not.

Instead of arms, military units are built with various amounts of materials such as lumber, bronze, and cast iron.

Grain is again half of the food requirement, but meat (cattle or fish) makes up all of the other half; no fruit.

You do not need depots to collect resources from the surrounding terrain. All you need is roads connected to ports, but unlike Imperialism this game requires terrain to be developed before it produces anything (except for the fish in rivers and seas within the radius of a port). An ordinary road will allow only one unit per tile to be transported, no matter how much the terrain is developed, until you have researched Road Construction, which allows more. Another related difference is that roads have infinite capacity, not needing freight cars; but sea transport all requires holds in ships.

When you click the "Offer" tab, the default number to offer is "1", not the Imperialism's "maximum". The other trade difference is that you can eventually earn the right to bid for more items each turn.

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