While the mechanics of turn-based combat sound interesting, it translates into a lacklustre format for naval combat. For me, battles tended to be quite repetitive, since most battles just revolved around getting a vessel’s hit points or crew numbers down to win. I found this unfortunate since the inclusion of RTS was something I had enjoyed about the previous entries in the franchise. RTS mechanics add a sense of urgency to battle that Port Royale 4 lacks, resulting in a tedious and sleepy affair. Luckily though, you do have the option of auto-resolving all conflicts, meaning that these battles can be bypassed entirely if you’re not enjoying them.
While this all sounds straightforward enough, a lot of stats and resource information in Port Royale 4 were tricky to find once I got stuck into the game. The game’s user interface was unnecessarily complicated and counterintuitive. It takes a while to wrap your head around where everything is, and while the game does feature over an hour of tutorials to get you up and running, the tutorials themselves are dry. I was forced to wade through walls of overwhelming text. As a result, I ended up completing the game’s tutorials over a few days, since I kept getting bored. When I finally got stuck into Port Royale 4’s campaign mode, I found it a lot more engaging to just figure things out on the fly.
Overall, Port Royale 4 offers up enjoyable moments through its resource trading mechanics and its fame points system, but that wasn’t quite enough to make it an immersive experience. The poor interface makes the game unnecessarily sluggish, and the battling system falls flat, too. While its graphics and surroundings are beautiful to look at, the game itself lacks vigour and depth. If you’re looking for pirates, adventure, and exciting battles, perhaps Port Royale 3 will still be your best bet.