After several years on Steam and PlayStation 4 – and following a port to the Nintendo Switch earlier this year – The Four Kings Casino and Slots finally arrives on Xbox. A free-to-play casino game screams microtransactions, and you’d be right, but how obtrusive are they? And how generous are these Four Kings?
The Four Kings Casino and Slots is a unique MMO that offers a digital social experience set inside a casino. You can play all the usual suspects in this casino, including blackjack, poker, craps, roulette and slot machines. Plus, it also includes a nightclub, bingo hall and bowling alley if you fancy something a bit different.
You can dance in the nightclub, but that is about it. The Four Kings has a slight Sims aesthetic to it, but you are limited by your interactions with other players. There are several chat channels you can flick between, and a useful social hub should you make any friends in-game or play with your Xbox friends list, but don’t expect your characters to start chatting away in Simlish to each other.
Besides, the nightclub doesn’t even have the best music; the main floor of the casino has a smooth jazz soundtrack playing in the background – that is absolutely the right music to be playing card games to.
The Four Kings also doubles as a hotel, and that is where your character creation takes place. You have a choice from a limited selection of clothing and accessories, but plenty of opportunity to unlock more through completing tasks or shopping at the various outlets using Reward Points (RP). Or you can pay real-world money for some unique items…
Let’s get the microtransactions out of the way; this is a free-to-play game, so some microtransactions are expected. In the Xbox Store they range from £0.79 for some RP boosters to a whopping £83.49 for 2.5 million chips and instant VIP access for two months. There are add-ons purely for increasing your chip stack, or packs of items that include chips and other assorted extras. Due to the description of these packs, or lack thereof, you won’t know exactly what is in these packs until purchase.
These aren’t the only items you can spend real-world money on; some in-game shops have premium outfits and accessories that can only be purchased with real money. These are not hugely significant, but they do help you stand out from the crowd.
The real question though is this – is it necessary to buy chips to be able to enjoy The Four Kings? Absolutely not! I found it to be a very generous casino (but don’t say that too loudly whilst you are in there). Every fifteen minutes of game time earns you 250 chips, there is a daily super slot spin that rewards chips (and you can unlock additional spins for progressing through various Tiers) and every so often chips will appear just for you in the casino for you to find. If you are also lucky enough to load into an instance of the casino with someone that drops a chip bomb, you can follow them around like The Pied Piper of Four Kings for up to 25,000 chips.
There are also various daily, weekly and monthly tasks that all reward chips once completed, and with many of these you don’t need to go out of your way to unlock them either.
As well as all this, there are the occasional free events that you will be notified of beforehand should you wish to enter, and events that usually occur over the weekend. There is a constant and steady stream of activities even for the cash-strapped in The Four Kings, and by basing progression on RP as opposed to number of chips, those with a healthier stack are never at an advantage for simply being more flush.
You start the casino with a shade over 10,000 chips to play around in. Up to World Tier 4, your maximum bets are restricted to avoid you blowing all your chips quickly, but are significantly increased once you hit that milestone. But from the very start, all casino games are open to you to enjoy, rather than limiting you to a roulette table until you get sick to death of it.
There are no lobbies to sit around and wait in with The Four Kings; if a slot machine or table at a Ring Poker game is free, you just go right up to it and sit down. Some games such as Bingo or Bowling cannot be joined mid-match for obvious reasons, but almost everything else can be dropped in and out of as you please.
Each activity in The Four Kings has its own progression system using RP, and these all feed into a Global ranking. This means you shouldn’t feel like you are missing out on much – except for a few exclusive clothing items – if you don’t enjoy certain activities. These may include War, because it is essentially a high-card game based purely on chance, or Baccarat because you don’t understand the rules.
As you wander round the casino you will notice leaderboards dotted around near or next to tables, showing the overall rankings for that particular activity, followed by your ranking if you aren’t in the top 10. Then, above one of the slot machines is an ever-increasing number showing a progressive jackpot for people to win. Along with the lack of outdoor views and no clock showing the real-world time, this is a very familiar feeling casino; one that will be familiar to those that have ever ventured inside one. And because of this, it is easy to lose track of time and keep playing through to the wee hours.
Spend enough time in The Four Kings though, and you will unlock the right to access the VIP suite. Naturally, you have to go some to unlock one of the three VIP Tiers, but once you get there you may feel a bit let down by what’s behind the velvet rope. Aside from a few variations of existing tables in the main casino, and an exclusive bar (drinks cannot be purchased however), there isn’t much difference.
Like any good MMO, The Four Kings Casino and Slots on Xbox is a huge timesink but is also the perfect way to unwind on an evening. With everything you would expect to see in a casino – plus more – some days you may want to play some bingo, or a few hands of blackjack, and this allows for it. It is all here under the same roof, all feeding into the same progression system and bank balance. Having originally launched five years ago on other systems, it comes to the Xbox family in a great state as well; I haven’t encountered a single issue in my time with the game. Friendly communities, unobtrusive microtransactions, and a hell of a lot of fun – my biggest frustration is that The Four Kings Casino and Slots didn’t make the jump to Xbox sooner.