It's been a while since I've written a recommendation for a game, and it's a service I feel the community really needs doing, so here we go:
Patrician IV, henceforth known as "Patty IV's" is in something of a niche genre, in that it is a Renaissance trading simulator set around the Hanseatic League in Northern Europe. Doesn't sound like the most riveting game now, but when I rephrase that as TIME TRAVELLING DOSH SIMULATOR 1420 EDITION it starts to sound ♥♥♥♥♥ing dank. (Note to self, make montage video with that title)
Patty IV's behaves something akin to a sandbox, and the main campaign introduces you to the core concepts in a really intelligent way rather than simply throwing a standard tutorial at you, whereupon you start with modest resources as a simple hemp smuggler operating out of Lubeck aspiring to grow his empire until you control all the booze and kush in Denmark.
The difficulties in the true sandbox mode work pretty well too, they basically make more bad things happen the higher difficulty you select, like pirates stealing your ♥♥♥♥ or bad winters freezing ports over as well as ramping up the costs of production, so that in order to maintain a decent profit margin you actually have to spread your goods out intelligently. Because of this, on the higher difficulties you truly end up as a wicked beer baron, having to ship your product all over Europe to find enough people keen for your booze and bud (Stockholm can't get enough hemp for some reason).
Once you've gotten enough dosh behind you from your 'legitimate businesses' you can move into the world of protection, racketeering and exploitation. You can create fleets of pirate vessels or hunt the pirates that menace your trade. You can be 'elected' in charge of a town and pay off the local authorities to leave you in peace. You can build 'schools' where the goal is to design bigger guns for you ships or ways to grow danker kush. You can even pick up some wench and start 'The Family' (watch that ♥♥♥♥♥, I caught mine cheating once).
Have I mentioned that it doesn't stop there?
WELL BUCKLE UP KIDS
IT EVEN HAS A GODDAM CO-OP MODE FOR TWICE AS MUCH DOSH.
Because by know you're already clicking add to cart I'll discuss the DLC now, so you can wrap it up in one easy purchase.
The expansions adds some pretty legit content, so if the gold edition is an option go for it, but the game isn't fundamentally handicapped by missing it out. I even managed to drop about 50 hours into the full edition before finding the key feature of smuggling booze and 'exotic spices' overland that the DLC introduces. It seems like there were a lot of little tweaks that were added with Rise of a Dynasty too, including some fixes with the aforementioned co-op mode, however, so I would recommend picking up the pack if possible.
This is a ♥♥♥♥ing wicked game, potentially the best game to play while you're browsing the net or whatever at the same time, which is ironic due to it not being terribly casual. The reason it has a ♥♥♥♥♥♥ metascore is because all the reviewers are cowards that don't want to put any effort into learning how the systems work, which are relatively easy to understand and smooth to operate. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥s are too busy giving 9.8's to on rails shooters to learn how to run a criminal syndicate, uh, I mean 'trading syndicate'. I wouldn't say the game is immaculate, but it's challenging and interesting in a fun way, and I don't regret sinking plenty of hours into it. The ship combat is a little dry too, but that's not the focus of the game.
If you like simulators or relaxed strategy of any kind I'd say it's a must buy.
Overall I'd give TIME TRAVELLING DOSH SIMULTOR 1420 EDITION 80/100.