I have never played a Port Royale game before so going into this I had no idea what to expect. What I found was a seafaring trading sim which sees you trading goods from port to port with the ultimate goal of being master of the seas. Let me start by saying that this game will most certainly not appeal to everyone. Those who have enjoyed other trading Sims will feel right at home here, however I do not think it does enough to appeal to new players despite making a noble effort to break new players in with its step by step tutorial.
Action is not the order of the day here. Port Royale 3 is incredibly slow paced especially during the first few hours. Progression is slow; you start small and grow little by little till you control the seas. In this sense the game is very accurate as life wasn’t as exciting in the 16th century as it has been romanticised to be through fiction. As a game however I found it to get very monotonous very fast.
The game is played from a top down perspective which makes it very easy to see what you are doing. The trading interface at first seems overwhelming if you are new to this genre however after a bit of time with it you realise it is very manageable.
The Port Royale 3 campaign is the best place for anyone to start. You are asked whether you want to play as a trader or an adventurer but I feel this is unnecessary as once you get playing you realise you can play either way and that focusing on just one can be the hardest way to play the game. The key to success in my opinion is to find a nice balance between the two.
Playing as a pure trader your aim is to travel from port to port buying and selling goods for the best prices you can. By doing this you increase your revenue and are able to expand your town and become more popular. Rinse and repeat is a term that suits Port Royale 3 more than most games. The more money you make the more ships you can build to speed up the trading process. You do have to worry about rival ships attacking your ships, and attacking other ships is the order of the day if you plan to play as a pure adventurer.
Playing as an adventurer your aim is to build your empire through more ruthless means, such as intercepting rival ships while they are on their trade routes. This may sound more exciting than the trader approach however there are just as many factors to consider. You have to build a powerful fleet, considering the size of the crew for each ship –the more people on a ship the more effective they are with the cannons. You also have to consider the wages of each member of your crew as well so finding the right balance is crucial. You may have the most powerful fleet on the seas but if your plunder isn’t able to cover wages and repairs then it is inefficient.
This is why it is best to find a happy medium focusing on both play styles. Having a strong trading system in place will make paying for ship repairs and crew wages much easier. Also by having a strong fleet it will mean your traders will not fall victim to rival ships as easily.
The multiplayer I found to be the most fun part about this game. You play against up to three other players and play to reach the goals that are set by the host of the game. You can either play to see who can reach a certain amount of Gold, ships or even town size in the fastest time. My personal favourite was just setting the game for a certain amount of in game time, for example three months and having the game end after that time, the winner being whoever was the most successful across all areas.
Another great thing about the multiplayer is that it can act as a great tutorial in its own right if you go into it with the right mind set. Just going in and observing how other people approach the game can really teach you what things need to be prioritised and it really does influence how you play the game.
The visuals in Port Royale are a mixed bag. The in game cut scenes look really nice and when you click to go into a city all the buildings look really nice and the water effects are really convincing. Sadly the same cannot be said for the trading over world map. It’s nowhere near as pleasing to the eye as other parts of the game so much so to the point that it looks like you are playing a much older game.
Overall Port Royale 3 is a game that I personally cannot see myself investing the amount of hours into it that are necessary to get the most out of it. That does not however blind me from the games merits. In a person’s hands with the right mentality and love for trading Sims and being able to see your empire organically grow or fall based on your own decisions. It is a grind and sadly I do not feel it does enough to appeal to a new crowd. If you like trading Sims this is for you if not I recommend a pass on this one.
MLG Rating: 6/10 Platform: PC Release Date: Out Now
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of Port Royale 3 for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of 2 weeks on a PC. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.