- Choose between 4 different character nationalities from English, French, Dutch or Spanish. Along the way you decide your characters career path, be an adventurer, where you will follow all assigned missions & tasks. An explorer where you will buy old treasure maps and go on the hunt for buried treasure. Opt to be a trader to manage ship convoys and trade with other towns Business Tycoons. Where you will manage and grow your own business empire. Or adopt the aggressive approach as a pirate. You even have the option to select you characters personal skills, as to whether you are charismatic, enterprising or a good shot – all have their benefits dependent upon your profession.
- Port Royale places the gamer within real historic locations, you are given the option to choose between 4 different times in history. Play the game in 1570, where the Spanish were the dominant force or 1600 when the French were the most powerful nation. In 1630 saw England as the most dominant force or in 1660 when the Spanish were very much the weaker nation. Each moment in history has a direct effect upon how you play throughout the game, even the buildings and ships are re-modelled to each historic period
- You start out as a simple sailor on a small ship, set out to explore the world and trade between towns. Your aim is to acquire gold and status; enough to eventually become a governor. Your status in society is critical; it effects whether you are able to obtain the better prices for wares and ships. Be able to hire more sailors, and even build additional businesses and win more and better orders. However, happiness is not achieved by money alone. It is important to keep observing the changing political events during the course of the gameplay and make decisions accordingly.
- As the game progresses you become more and more self-sufficient and begin to fight for the interests of your nation: you will rob enemy ships and towns, annexe towns or chase pirates. Port Royale can be played to suit an individual gamer's preferences. After the initial introductory gameplay the player can move away from the trading aspects of the game and go on to enjoying the game's adventure, exploration and conquering elements.
- Sea battles are the main aspect of the game; it is up to the player to decide whether he wants to control sea battles manually or automatically. Ships can be destroyed, boarded and plundered. Three different types of ammunition are available: massive cannonballs to damage the hull of a ship, chain bullets to damage the sails and shrapnel to kill the opponent's sailors.
- Throughout the course of the game there will be natural disasters that you will be forced to deal with. The devastating disease The Plague, fires and wild storms each could appear at any time destroying towns, killing your workers and damaging your ship.
- Many different types of buildings and factories are featured along with a variety of production workshops. Countless buildings have their own unique and very specific function; from the small shipyard and the corner pub right up to the Governor's palace. So the players can have their ship repaired in the shipyard, get the newest gossip from the pub or request a letter from the governor.
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