Preview: Gain reputation, power and wealth in Rise of Venice
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Since you're a merchant family, you have a family tree and can interact with your family members. Family members provide skills and bonuses, such as more rep gain or more wealth. You can even marry into a family of the council of 10, which will give you even more bonuses. If you want a more powerful convoy, you can put a family member as captain of a convoy, providing a stronger starting skillset over computer-generated captains. Captains also get experience to level up attributes that'll help you travel quicker, have more strength in battle, etc.
Rise of Venice isn't just about trading, though. You'll have to test your skill in sea battles against pirates and rival merchants. You can choose to automate these battles – which is fine if you have a stronger convoy – or you can play them out yourself. During the battles, you either can control each ship or just set the tactics and manage them. Strategy and skill really come into play during these battles. You choose the type of shots, the ammo type, control movement, and even perform special moves, like leaving a trail of oil behind your ship and setting the sea ablaze. Ships can get stuck in shallow water, and if you're skilled enough, you can pull alongside an enemy, board their ship, capture it and gain sailors.
One other element to sea battles are sailors falling overboard. During the course of battle, sailors fall off the ship and into the water – it happens. You can navigate your ship over them to pick them up, but you only have a limited time to do so. When a sailor falls in the water, sharks start to circle them. As time passes, the sharks circle closer and closer until eating the sailor. Not only do you get to see a cool little animation and the water being doused with blood, but it provides a little minigame during combat.
Rise of Venice is 90% trade simulator, 10% ship combat, which you'll experience across four game types. There's the Campaign, which will let you experience the core of the game, treason, intrigue and mechanics; Sandbox mode will let you change all of the settings for a custom experience; Scoreboard mode tasks the player with specific advancements and goals for you to make, featuring a score multiplier and sending your score to a leaderboard; and finally, there's multiplayer.
The multiplayer mode allows up to four players to play together locally or online. All attempting to rise to power at the same time, players will have to all agree on win conditions and settings, such as game speed, beforehand.
I don't have much experience with the Port Royale series, but I am nothing but impressed with the depth of gameplay shown to me for Rise of Venice. While I touched on a lot, I've only skimmed the surface of the game. Rise of Venice will tickle your trading simulation fancy, becoming as simple or as complicated as you want it to be.
Rise of Venice releases for PC on September 27 through retail and Steam.