Port Royale 4 Beta Preview

Port Royale 4 in pre-order Beta Preview – Joho and a bottle of rum – All information and my first impression

Port Royale 4 Beta Preview
Joho and a Bottle of Rum
Port Royale 4 Beta Preview
Joho and a Bottle of Rum

In this article I show you all currently available information about the Port Royale 4 Pre-Order Beta Version. What’s in it, how does it play, how far is the development and is it worth to pre-order to be able to play the Port Royale 4 Beta right now?

German Version:

This article is available here as text, but also as a YouTube video (German voice-over, many subtitles). This way you can choose how you would like to enjoy it most.


German voice-over, many subtitles

Port Royale 4 (p)Review - JoHo und ne Buddle voll Rum [Deutsch - German, many subtitles]

Port Royale 4 Beta Preview – Intro

Port Royale 4 Beta Preview
Ship Title Picture
Port Royale 4 Beta Preview
Ship Title Picture

Hi there, this is the Zap. In this post, I would like to introduce you to the game Port Royale 4 and give you a small beta preview. The game will be released for PC, Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch.

Port Royale 4 is being developed by Gaming Minds, who previously gained experience with Railway Empire, Patrician 4, Port Royale 3, and many other titles.

As this game is not a finished product, there will be no rating. And all information in this post is not final. Many graphics, game features, or gameplay may change significantly in the next few months. The game is still in the middle of development, so I have to ask you to consider this.

Port Royale 4 Beta Version – Release Date

Port Royale 4 Beta Preview - Beta Version
Port Royale 4 Beta Preview – Beta Version

Port Royale 4 is scheduled for release on September 25th, 2020 for PC (Steam), PS4, XBox One, and Nintendo Switch. However, there is currently a closed beta, and starting April 29th you can pre-order the game directly from the publisher Kalypso.

Pre-orderers will also get direct access to the latest PC beta versions and their feedback can be used to influence the further development of the game.

For other publishers, this would be called Early Access. Kalypso prefers the phrase Pre-Order Beta, but in the end, it’s pretty much the same.

Port Royale 4 – Background

Port Royale 4 Beta Preview - Background Info
Port Royale 4 Beta Preview – Background Info

Port Royale is an economic simulation with a strong focus on trade, supplemented with some strategic elements and also some politics and combat.

The Port Royale series is set in the Caribbean Sea of the 16th century. The first cities of the colonial powers Spain, England, France and Netherlands are only a few years old. Colonies and plantations are founded and also the division of the individual areas is not yet finally determined.

The predecessors of Port Royale 4 are roughly based on games like Hanse, Patrician, Rise of Venice or above all the legendary Pirates by Sid Meier. So the basic ideas of this ship trading and colony management simulator go back to the early 80s.

So let’s see what Port Royale 4 has to do with this historical game principle.

Port Royale 4 Beta Preview
Port Royale 4 Beta Preview

Port Royale 4 Gameplay

In Port Royale 4 we generally belong to one of the 4 colonial powers. We are a merchant first of all, always looking for the next good deal. We serve our viceroy, earn money by ship trading and building plantations and processing facilities.

So we spend a large part of our playing time buying goods cheaply in one place or producing them ourselves and selling them expensively in other places.

With the profits, we expand our fleet and build our own operations. In the later course, we will automate the trade more and more with trade routes. Then the game will change and we will move further and further into the field of politics, war, and piracy or pirate hunt.

Port Royale 4 Game Modes

Port Royale 4 Beta Review 
Game Modes - Singleplayer - Campaign - Skirmish
Port Royale 4 Beta Review
Game Modes – Singleplayer – Campaign – Skirmish

The game offers some tutorial missions, which simplify the entry into the sometimes quite complex processes. But don’t worry, it won’t get too complicated and you can have fun and success in Port Royale even without studying business administration.

In addition, there are currently 3 campaigns. I expect that soon there will be one for each of the colonial powers. On the one hand, these differ very much in the different starting areas. But also the eras, the targets and goals of the respective viceroys or colony administrators are different.

At last there is a free game mode, where we join one of the four sea powers and choose one of the currently four given characters. These characters have slightly different abilities. For example, the merchantress can trade everywhere without having to buy a trading concession for each city first, but she has twice the requirements for warships.

Multiplayer is currently not planned for Port Royale. I find this to be quite a shortcoming because this kind of game is actually suitable for collaborative action and building or even for competitive war games and conquests.

Perhaps the developers will fix this weakness later, but for now Port Royale 4 is a pure single player experience.

Gameplay – Ships

Port Royale 4 Beta Gameplay - Ships
Port Royale 4 Beta Gameplay – Ships

The ships are definitely an extremely important factor in Port Royale 4. There were almost no land connections between the cities at that time, and if there were, they were very dangerous. So with our ships, we are responsible for the trade of goods and the basic supply of the cities.

In the beginning, there are five different models to choose from, which differ greatly in their values. They vary in speed, loading capacity, draught, number of crew, maneuverability, deck height, durability, and of course the value.

Merchant ships cannot take cannons at all, but they can take many goods. And vice versa, warships are brimming with weapons, but then have only a small cargo hold. But since we have to fight with pirates during the game and wars between the colonial powers are breaking out, we’ll need both kinds urgently.

Ships are traded and built in shipyards. There we can either buy old models, which are for sale at random and in limited quantities. Or we can place our own building orders, but then we have to wait for a longer time until the building is finished.

The selection of ships starts with small agile merchant schooners, moves on to the larger merchant ships such as fleets and brigs, and finally to the galleons and war galleons that were not available at the beginning. These large ships can be unlocked via a kind of skill tree, but for which we first have to acquire fame. Maybe there will be more ships later, that will have to wait and see. There are probably 18 different models planned, but not all of them are available yet.

Gameplay – Colonies and Cities

Port Royale 4 Beta Gameplay
Colonies - Cities
Port Royale 4 Beta Gameplay
Colonies – Cities

The Caribbean of Port Royale 4 simulates a total of 60 different cities. Each city has different prerequisites. There are 25 different goods in total, but a city can only produce a maximum of 7 of them. But of course there is a demand for all goods.

From this demand and the supply of the corresponding goods the cities develop very differently. Each city belongs to one of the 4 empires and therefore develops differently.

As a player we start with a hometown, where we can set up our own businesses or buildings for the city. In addition to 25 building types for the individual goods, we can and must also construct 15 general city buildings if we want a city to grow to its full potential.

This starts with residential buildings, without which the required amount of workers in the city might not be enough, goes on to pubs, churches, hospitals, and cemetery, and finally to master builders, markets, warehouses, and the shipyard.

The expansion of the cities takes place on a hex map here. This makes the city expansion easy to plan. Many buildings have positive and negative effects on other buildings.

A farm cannot function well if there are not enough residential buildings nearby, on the other hand, farms near residential buildings are negative for the well-being of the inhabitants. On the other hand, other buildings such as a church or pub have a positive effect.

Here you can optimize some things by skilful construction of the cities. But the other way round you can also do some things wrong. This is an interesting task at the beginning. To what extent this really motivates in the long run, we will have to wait and see.

I can imagine that once you have managed to get the basic structure of a city right, you will tend to build the same scheme over and over again. But maybe the developers still surprise me with local peculiarities in the individual cities that prevent this schematic building?

Each city develops its own bottlenecks or surpluses. And we can use this to our financial advantage or gain fame and prestige by promoting the growth of the cities. We need these so that good captains can be hired by us or we can obtain concessions from the viceroy for the higher-quality buildings and ships or other advantages.

Port Royale 4 InGame Screenshots

Click or tap on the image for a larger view.
In the enlarged view, you can scroll right and left on the edges


Port Royale 4 Gameplay - Trading
Port Royale 4 Gameplay – Trading

60 cities produce and consume 25 goods. And in each city, prices vary according to supply and demand. There are a lot of opportunities for smart traders to make money here.

So we start by buying their products from existing companies at the beginning and driving them to cities where they cannot be produced but are urgently needed.

The game offers a simple system here by displaying demand and supply with a kind of traffic light in the trade menu. So we can always see directly which goods are urgently needed and thus offer good sales prices. And the other way round, we can also see which goods are available in large quantities in the city, so that we can buy them at a good price.

This part of the game has actually not changed much throughout the whole series, all the way back to Hanse and Pirates. But I think this is a strong point, because exactly this trade part was responsible for the popularity of these ship-trading game series for decades.

Port Royale 4 Combat

Port Royale 4 Beta  - Combat
Port Royale 4 Beta – Combat

With this topic, I have made only few experiences so far, so this part will be rather short.

In the predecessors, the battles were real-time battles. In some predecessors, such as Pirates, it even went all the way to the boarding and musket and sword fighting on deck of the boarded ship.

It often got hectic in these fights. On the one hand, this led to very exciting battles, but often also to a lack of overview and sometimes unfair battle results, because a single click of the mouse could decide between victory and defeat.

As an alternative, there was an automatic simulation based purely on the values of the ships and some randomness.

This was often my choice because real-time fighting was too imprecise and annoying for me. And I got annoyed when my much better ships lost a fight because I clicked slower and less effective than the AI could control their ships.

Here Port Royale 4 goes a completely different way.
The naval battles in Port Royale now become a kind of turn-based board game. This is very unusual if you knew and liked the predecessors.

However, I see chances that this new kind of turn-based strategy could actually fit much better with the rest of the game. More simulation and strategy, less hectic and action-packed fights. The step of the developers to make this change is probably courageous and leads to many discussions. But just because something is new and different, it doesn’t necessarily have to be worse.


Port Royale 4 Gameplay
Port Royale 4 Gameplay

The game currently offers three campaigns. But these are still very raw in the current beta version. In this part of the game you can clearly see the beta status.

In the previous versions of this game series, you could find a lot of stories, intrigues, treasure hunts, historical events, and many other things. But at least so far almost nothing of that is included in this game mode yet.

So I think that in the current beta version of the game, campaign and free play are almost identical.

That’s why I don’t want to go into too much detail. I guess this part of the game is just still a very busy construction site.

Opinion and conclusion

Port Royale 4 Preview Test
Opnion and Conclusion
Port Royale 4 Preview Test
Opnion and Conclusion

When I first started the game, I was impressed by the new graphics engine. The visual representation of the Caribbean Sea is really handsome and very detailed. The freely zoomable and rotatable map is really nice. In this part, Port Royale 4 offers a modern foundation for the game.

I also like the smooth transition between the world map and the city view. The development and design of cities is even more fun. And especially in this area of city expansion, Port Royale 4 offers a lot more than its predecessors.

Thanks to the hex-field system, the city can be planned well and because of the areas of influence, this is also essential.

Besides that there are many of the things in the game that made the whole series and all the sub-series and role models so popular. Port Royale offers a lot of trade, some build-up, a little politics and all that in the well-proven mix.

For my taste the new edition could offer some more new things. The battle system is completely different, the city building is more detailed and the graphics engine is very modern. But I’d like to see more depth in the game, especially in the areas of storytelling, campaign design and drama.

The technical skeleton of the game is already quite well set up so far. The framework of the game is stable and usable, only a few corners and edges left, and then everything will run smoothly.

But for a really good game, Port Royale 4 still needs some meat on the ribs in my opinion. With more actual game content, pirate tales, stories from that time period, historical allusions and most of all some dramaturgical upgrades and twists, the game could be a lot better.

There is still some time left until the release. I hope that the developers will use this to make Port Royale 4 as a positive example to take a step forward in the series. I will definitely continue to give them feedback, and hope that this will help the game to move forward a bit more.

Buy Port Royale 4?

Port Royale 4 
buy it ?
Port Royale 4
buy it ?

As with many early access titles, oh sorry, pre-order betas, I can only recommend to really convinced fans of the series and this trading genre to buy the game at this time.

You can already play it in the current version, and you can certainly have a lot of fun with it. I’m a long time player of such games and I started with Hanse and Pirates and played every part and spin-off of the series and liked almost all of them. But whether this can be transferred to everyone, I dare to doubt.

Because there are still some features missing and some things are still under construction. In many places, there is still a lack of content and it is not yet completely predictable how good the game will be at the end.

If you have been waiting for a new part of this series for a long time, you will probably find what you want here. If you don’t know the series yet, or if you weren’t completely enthusiastic about some of the previous ones, I’d rather wait a few more weeks or months.


Are you enthusiastic about trading, ship fights, and the Caribbean setting? Or don’t you really like the colony administration and the pushing of goods? Please write to me below, I am looking forward to your opinion. And just as well I would be enthusiastic about your subscription or a thumb under my YouTube video. You can always find more reviews, news, and guides here on zapzockt.de and then I wish you a great day, have a good time and stay healthy, ciao ciao, yours Zap

Port Royale 4 Website

Port Royale 4 Steampage

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About Zap "Dirk", Author from ZapZockt.de

Dirk "Zap" from ZapZockt.de,
40+ gamer, gaming since 1980, mainly strategy titles, MMOs, and RPGs. Writes game reviews, gaming news, and also sometimes about technology, hardware, and YouTube. Otherwise, can opener for the cat queen Tessa, retailer, PC freak, "The one who installs your printer driver".

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