Port Royale 4 'extremely fun and rewarding to work on' says dev
We caught up with Gaming Minds Studios on the launch of its latest strategy sim
Since the early 00s, Port Royale has allowed players to travel across the Caribbean and neighboring seas to embark on missions to trade, conquer and - above all - explore.
Eighteen years on from Port Royale: Gold, Power and Pirates' release, the strategy sim series continues to draw in players with its latest arrival Port Royale 4 - featuring some of the most detailed maps to date, as well as new features including turn-based tactical battles.
To learn more about the latest installment in the Port Royale franchise, we sat down (virtually) with Daniel Dumont, Creative Director Gaming Minds Studios, who talked in detail about what new and returning players can expect this time around.
"Port Royale 4 is an in-depth trade simulation and strategy game set in the 17th century Caribbean," says Daniel. "where players take control of one of four nations (England, Spain, France and the Netherlands) and then focus on exploring, battling, and building up their own trade empire."
Not only is Port Royale 4 a great strategy sim, there’s also a vast amount of trading and economy features within the game. We asked Daniel, from a developers' perspective, how challenging and rewarding is it to work on a game like this with so much content.
"It's extremely fun and rewarding to work on something so complex," he says. "especially nowadays where games tend toward a more macro and overly-guided approach. We’re a big fan of minutiae in all of its forms, and with Port Royale 4, we wanted to strike a good balance of in-depth mechanics - allowing those who wanted to focus on the micro-management side of things the ability to do so - and not overwhelming the player, giving them the option to tweak certain functions if they’d rather focus on a different aspect of the game, producing goods over trading, for example."
Players setting sail and hoping to build trade relationships and entering conflict with rival factions will also have to be conscious of challenges beyond the expected battles, as weather conditions, currents and many other factors feature prominently in the game.
"Weather is a big factor in the game," says Daniel. "Players need to keep an eye on the skies and sea to ensure they can use weather to their advantage and that it doesn’t impact too severely on their productivity. Fierce winds and strong currents are worth watching for, as these can really hamper your progress if they catch you off guard.
"If you’re completing a mission, especially one with a deadline, make sure to watch for changes in the weather, plot your trade routes accordingly, and try to keep the wind at your back."
The game launched on September 25th for Steam PC and console gamers, and Gaming Minds has already been quick to check out the various comments, critiques and feedback from players and fans so far.
"We've received a ton of great feedback from the community so far, and we’re working hard to make sure we read every comment and take everyone’s thoughts into account as we move forward," says Daniel. "We know that there’s a lot of Port Royale veterans out there and we’re doing our best to strike a nice balance of preserving the series’ legacy while adding new functions and options that cater to both experienced players and newcomers.
"Port Royale 4 is about player freedom, so we really want to home in on this and cater to as many playstyles as we can."
There’s certainly a lot going on in Port Royale 4, what with players being able to build cities, set up naval trading and keep pesky pirates at bay. For new players jumping in, we asked Daniel for some top tips to get started.
"Absolutely, there’s so much to see and to learn in Port Royale 4," he says. "our biggest tip for new players would be to start with the tutorial, as this will equip you with all the knowledge you’ll need going forward, and from there, just to go at your own pace. Port Royale 4 isn’t the sort of game where you’ll need split-second reactions, or to keep an eye on something like a vitality metre too often.
"We want players to first soak in the Caribbean and enjoy building a familiarity with the world and its economy. Don’t think you’re missing anything by not going a mile a minute.
"Just take it easy, enjoy exploring the world and gradually move focus to what you would like to achieve."
It’s fantastic to see just how long the Port Royale franchise has been around, and the fanbase in which it has developed and cherished. We asked Daniel what is it about Port Royale that makes the series so popular with gamers.
"To us, video games as a medium has always been about choice and mastery," he says. "Allowing the player to take the reins and build familiarity with a game’s systems, eventually mastering them if they put in enough dedication, is what really excites us.
"We love that Port Royale offers both of these things - giving players ample choice but also, the ability to hone their skills and focus on mastering the trade economy. For us, the series has always been about experimenting with systems, and once you’re familiar with these, working to streamline the process so that you get to the perfect line of production.
"This, in combination with the player’s ability to choose how they get to this state, is that which we feel has really kept people coming back to the series."
For a limited time only, you can purchase Port Royale 4 and get the Merchant's Chest bundle included for FREE - featuring four additional Steam PC games and five DLCs!