Everyone knows pirates are cool. From “Talk Like a Pirate” day to The Lonely Island’s “Jack Sparrow” to the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, pirates have been in the cultural consciousness for a long time and have a certain cool factor. So, it’s not before time that they get a bit of love in Kalypso’s island hopping trading sim, Port Royale 4, with the Buccaneers DLC arriving with some new toys to play with and a new expanded mode for free mode.
For those who’ve not played Port Royale before, it’s a complex and textured game about trading in the Caribbean, featuring intricate supply chains, competing colonial powers and even the odd bout of combat between sailing ships!
Players take the role of a trader captain, starting off with only one ship and no real reputation. You’ll set up delivery routes between exotic islands, delivering goods from one to the other and making a profit, allowing you to purchase new ships and increase the volume of your supply chain. You’ll also carry out tasks for your viceroy, which will allow you to unlock new buildings and new ships to allow you to further expand your own commercial empire.
Of course, the Caribbean of the 16th and 17th century was a lawless place so there’s always a chance to cross swords with a privateer sent by another faction to try and take your cargos and your precious ships. At this point, the game plays out in a gridded turn-based battle simulator which can see you outrun the enemy, defeat them and sink them (or capture them!), or otherwise you’ll lose ship and cargo to the enemy!
Now Port Royale has always had its options to unleash piracy on your enemies. A player could issue a “Letter of the Marque” to allow privateers to wage war on your behalf, destroying opposition shipping and even helping you to conquer their settlements. But with the new Buccaneers DLC, you can take up the role of the pirate (or privateer if you want to be technical).
Features in the new DLC include an option to play “Buccaneer Mode” where you can splice the main sail and set sail, raiding ships, stealing cargo and even taking their ships to add to your growing pirate navy. This is a riff on the game’s featured “free mode” that is a cannon-blast to play.
Playing in this mode will see you take part in far more of the turn-based sea battles that were a major feature in Port Royale 4, so your mileage may vary depending on how much you enjoy that element of the game versus the intricate supply chain management of the base trading game.
You can also spend your hard-earned doubloons to construct some new pirate ships, including a rather fearsome pirate galleon!
The core gameplay loop is totally different in Buccaneer mode as you now offer your services as a privateer for the colonial powers, taking a Letter of the Marque and attacking ships belonging to their enemies. This also somewhat simplifies the gameplay, putting your focus squarely on fighting and stealing ships and their cargoes.
You can also capture towns for yourself, adding bases and trade ports much as in the main game but now for your growing pirate faction, which is a hoot. However, if you’re too successful, then expect to face increasing numbers of warships on the prowl for you.
These settlements will also now be rendered in a rather nifty new set of buildings, and there will be some new costumes for your pirate aesthetic, which really adds to the sense of immersion. There is also new pirate-themed music added into the game.
The DLC also adds a huge number of new missions and tasks with a distinct piratical feel to them, which will add to your game in Buccaneer. You’ll also see a few of them crop up in the main game too.
I personally found the campaign found in Port Royale 4 to be very complex and hard to get into but the Buccaneer mode cuts this down to a much more focused experience which may be more to some player’s tastes. It could also well be useful for learning more of Port Royale’s myriad sub-systems.
It’s worth noting that the Buccaneers DLC received very negative reviews for its PC release but this was more to do with the mod not appearing to load properly, something that Kalypso are trying to fix. On the Xbox there don’t appear to have been any problems accessing the content.
The Buccaneers DLC doesn’t alter the base game of Port Royale 4 too much, so if you’re not a fan of this rather complex game, you will likely not find enough here to make this worth picking up now. But for veteran fans looking for a new challenge, this is a low-priced DLC that is well worth a look.
Jump back into a world of piracy with Port Royale 4 – Buccaneers on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One