Pirates are a popular theme in literature, and the best pirate video games, from The Legend of Zelda to Assassin’s Creed, show how much fun the idea can be.
Even though most pirate media shows an idealized version of one of the worst and darkest times in history, pirates still draw the attention of people who want to live a life of freedom and adventure.
Over the years, video game makers have made full use of this, but only the best pirate games fully understand the potential of the premise.
Since the Pirates of the Caribbean movies became so famous, games have often been about sailing the high seas, stealing treasure, and maybe even fighting the odd skeleton pirate.
Air of Arcadia and Rogue Galaxy are two games that take the pirate idea to the air or even space.
Sticking to the basics, on the other hand, keeps the attention on the pirate computer games that really capture the fun of being on the open sea.
I’ve put together this list of the most exciting pirate games so you can find the treasure and make the others walk the plank.
So get your cutlasses out and get ready to sail! In our search for the best pirate game ever made, we have a long way to go.
- 35. Blood & Gold
- 34. Shantae
- 33. Pirates of the Caribbean
- 32. Man O’War: Corsair – Warhammer Naval Battles
- 31. Crimson: Steam Pirates
- 30. Risen 2: Dark Waters
- 29. Windward
- 28. DK Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest
- 27. Port Royale: Gold, Power and Pirates
- 26. Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasures
- 25. Assassin’s Creed Rogue
- 24. Assassin’s Creed: Freedom Cry
- 23. Nightmares from the Deep: The Cursed Heart
- 22. Age of Booty
- 21. Tempest
- 20. Pirate101
- 19. Elite Dangerous
- 18. Sunless Sea
- 17. Skull & Bones
- 16. Skies Of Arcadia
- 15. Tropico 2: Pirate Cove
- 14. Risen
- 13. Pixel Piracy
- 12. LEGO Pirates Of The Caribbean
- 11. Ratchet & Clank Quest For Booty
- 10. Sid Meier’s Pirates!
- 9. The Monkey Island Series
- 8. BlackWake
- 7. Pillars Of Eternity 2: Deadfire
- 6. Uncharted 4
- 5. The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition
- 4. GreedFall
- 3. Sea of Thieves
- 2. The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker
- 1. Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag
35. Blood & Gold
Snowbird Games’ Blood & Gold: Caribbean might be a good choice if you want something a little less cartoony.
This open-world RPG is all about giving players control over their adventures.
So, it’s up to you if you want to get rich by selling sugar or if you want to marry a governor’s daughter and lead a colony against the Spanish Crown.
Even though the game’s features are interesting and there’s a lot to do, Blood & Gold’s execution isn’t great, and it uses some of the less useful parts of the Mount & Blade engine that it was built on.
This keeps it from being in a better spot.
On the other hand, WayForward Technologies’ Shantae series has gameplay that is easy but very well done.
Not to mention that it has a very lovely look that is sure to catch your eye.
You play as the half-genie defender of Sequin, Shantae, as she fights the evil lady pirate Risky Boots to protect her home.
This platformer is known for its great boss fights against Risky Boots’ crew of pirate baddies, which are both a visual show and a tough task.
33. Pirates of the Caribbean
Movie tie-ins don’t have a reputation for being good on their own.
But don’t let that stop you from trying this game. It was renamed late in development to take advantage of how famous the movie Pirates of the Caribbean was, so only a few details are from the movie.
Take charge of Nathaniel Hawk and buy ships, hire officers, and board enemy ships to finish quests for different factions in the game.
Even though it’s an older game that came out for the Xbox, I thought the sailing techniques were pretty advanced.
To be successful, you need to pay attention to the wind and choose the right ammunition to avoid fights with other ships.
32. Man O’War: Corsair – Warhammer Naval Battles
When most people think of Warhammer, they picture strong space marines with big pauldrons, not pirates on ships.
But most people don’t know that this universe of tabletop games is bigger than they think, and there are all kinds of adventures to be had within it.
The people who made this game, Evil Twin Artworks, filled the oceans with strange ships to board and scary sea monsters to fight.
You can also buy and improve ships with the money you get from exploring, selling, and, of course, being a pirate.
What makes this game so good is that it stays real and manages to mix the normal pirate stuff with one of the strangest settings you can think of.
31. Crimson: Steam Pirates
If you don’t like flying devils and sea monsters, how about a steampunk version of the pirate mythos?
Crimson: Steam Pirates is a great turn-based strategy game that focuses mostly on sea battles. It was made by Harebrained Schemes.
What makes it so interesting is that it takes place in an alternate 19th century where people like Jules Verne and Nikola Tesla sail the seas with different skills and abilities that will help you in battle.
If you want a well-made RTS game on iOS, this is the one for you.
30. Risen 2: Dark Waters
After the huge success of the first Risen in 2009, people had a lot of hopes for the second one.
Even more so after it was reported that the game would have pirates instead of the more traditional fantasy look.
Risen 2: Dark Waters is an action-RPG that takes place in a world destroyed by titans many years after the first Risen game.
Yes, it is about pirates.
But it takes place in a world where dark magic, sea monsters, and voodoo are ready for a brave person to take them on.
Based on what you do as a person, the world will change. This means that as you move through a wide range of dank caves, dark jungles, and dangerous places, you will gain new paths, skills, and features.
The voice acting has gotten a lot better, and the game has a great score and humor that isn’t at all typical.
Worth a try, but you might want to read the first Risen book first.
Nothing is better than a good game with an even better story.
Michael Lyashenko made Windward after he went to a talk by famous game designer Sid Meier and asked if he could make a game like Sid Meier’s Pirates! Game.
Everything else is history.
Windward is different from its inspiration in that it puts more emphasis on sailing and naval battle.
The world is a big, procedurally-made sandbox that is ready to be played in.
In a lush Caribbean setting, there are tasks to complete, trades to make money from, and ships to sink beneath the waves.
If you like other games by Meier, you’ll probably like this one a lot.
28. DK Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest
DKC2: Diddy’s Kong Conquest, which came out in 1995 for the SNES and was made by the well-known company Rare, is a platform game where the pirate theme comes from the enemies and not the main character.
And it’s clear from the beginning to the end of the game.
It takes place on Crocodile Island, where Diddy’s uncle Donkey Kong is locked up by King K. Rool and his crew of pirate lizards.
To free him, you have to go through several dangerous areas where the bad pirates have left their mark and beat K. Rool’s goons in epic boss fights. And, by SNES standards, this is the best 2D platform game ever.
This was one of the most popular games of 1995, and for good reason.
It has one of the best songs in all of gaming, and the sprites and backgrounds are so detailed and well-made that they might as well be 3D.
This is a must-play if you like old-school games.
27. Port Royale: Gold, Power and Pirates
The classic economic model Port Royale: Gold, Power, and Pirates is the way to go if you don’t like action games all that much but still want to get into the look and feel of the Age of Piracy.
Port Royale was made by Ascaron Entertainment and came out in 2002. It gives you control of a new port town and lets you decide what to do with it.
You can focus on trade or handle pirates to help your people get rich and grow economically.
Build your name with the local naval powers, accept quests from other governors, and your little port town will slowly become a real crossroads in the Caribbean.
If you like it, make sure to check out its many sequels, which have updated graphics and a more complicated simulation.
26. Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasures
We didn’t have that many ways to waste time on the Nintendo Wii.
But there’s one small gem that really stands out.
Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasures is a cute Adventure/Puzzle game where the main characters, Zack and Wiki, are front and center.
In the game, they join a crew of pirates and sail around looking for parts of the cursed body of the great pirate Barbaros.
Isn’t it great?
This game is mostly a point-and-click affair, but it does have a few interesting puzzles that use the Wii’s motion controls in a way that makes them feel like an important part of the game.
Much better than putting this function in as a last-minute gimmick.
I’ve never liked figures as wild as Zack and Wiki, the monkey who is his best friend.
But for an adventure as strange as this one, if you want to spend hours having fun, these young pirates are the ones to hire.
25. Assassin’s Creed Rogue
After the release of the critically acclaimed pirate epic ACIV: Black Flag, Ubisoft understood that they had hit the jackpot with the open-world sailing gameplay and general naval aesthetic.
So that they could keep making money off of this success while they worked on the next big game in the AC series, they made Rogue, which is kind of like a spiritual sequel.
Here, sailing is again the main event, but this time in the cold North Atlantic instead of the warm Caribbean.
Shay Patrick Cormack is the main character, but he is neither a killer nor a pirate. But Rogue has the same military spirit and gameplay as Black Flag, complete with sea shanties.
24. Assassin’s Creed: Freedom Cry
Freedom Cry was first released as DLC for ACIV: Black Flag, but it was later released as a full game on its own.
It follows Edward Kenway’s old pirate partner, the escaped slave Adéwalé, on a dangerous mission to stop the Slave Trade and fight the Templars who are running it.
The game focuses less on hacking and more on the “Assassin’s Creed” setting as a whole.
Freedom Cry is still very much about rebelliousness and fighting for freedom with blood and steel.
It even has some tasks with Avéline de Grandpré from Assassin’s Creed Liberation, who isn’t as well known as she should be, for those of us who loved that game but wanted more of her.
I could see why some of you might think this isn’t piratey enough.
But since the game won an award from the Writers’ Guild of America, I think you should put down your blunderbusses and give it a try before you make me walk the plank.
23. Nightmares from the Deep: The Cursed Heart
Some games only care about how they look.
Nightmares from the Deep: The Cursed Heart by Artifex Mundi is one of the few games that will make you feel like you are really in a dark, dank pirate journey.
This grim, dark point-and-click game has beautiful graphics and some great puzzles that use the “hidden object” formula that the genre is known for.
You play as the owner of a museum whose daughter has been taken by an undead pirate. This sends you on a journey through catacombs, caves, and jungles full of secrets and danger.
Since the game came out in 2012, there have been several follow-ups. All of these things are pretty good.
Even if you played all of them, Artifex Mundi has other games like Uncharted Tides: Port Royal that have a similar plot. Check out their site to see what other books they have that you might like.
22. Age of Booty
If you’ve been reading these pieces for a while, you know that I’ve been in love with hexes ever since I first played Civilization IV.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, I give you Age of Booty, the most hex-heavy pirate game ever made.
This great RTS, made by Certain Affinity for Windows, PS3, and Xbox 360, lets you steer a pirate ship through the Caribbean.
The one and only goal?
Taking things from enemy ships and taking over towns to help your side. Neat!
To put it simply, it’s the naval battle game-play in Civilization. But it’s a lot more detailed since it’s pretty much the whole point of the game.
Just remember that, in my opinion, this game is only worth it for the multiplayer. If you’re looking for a game to play by yourself, there are better options out there.
On the other hand, Lion’s Shade’s open-world pirate epic was made with the main goal of making a fun journey for a single player.
And the outcomes are great.
But instead of putting you on a single set path, Tempest drops you into a world full of puzzles to solve, quests to complete, and storylines to follow as you see fit.
You can wander around the ocean aimlessly looking for trouble, or you can set a course through unknown places….
Simply put, you are a pirate. And no one tells you what to do!
Except, well, maybe the sea monsters that live in the deep and kill people.
You should kind of be ready for those.
This MMORPG was made by KingIsle Entertainment as a sister game to Wizard101.
Players can take control of their own ship, make friends, and travel to different places.
As one of the many pirate-themed groups, they were all looking for fame and treasure.
After eight years of constant growth, there is a lot to look at.
The game is fun to look at because it is colorful and bright, so you won’t get tired of it quickly.
19. Elite Dangerous
Most pirate video games are based on real-life events. They are about the pirates of the 17th and 18th centuries, who have a beautiful reputation.
They pay attention to ships made of wood, cutlasses, and dynamite. But pirates are popular in more than just one field.
Elite Dangerous is a science fiction space adventure game where the player can be a space pirate.
In Elite Dangerous, players can do a lot of different things. They can be merchants, explorers, or smugglers.
But the game can be stolen in any way. Players can steal from ships or fight them to get plunder.
This goes all the way to the multiplayer parts of the game, where hacking is allowed and not seen as being mean.
18. Sunless Sea
Sunless Sea is another game that you’ll love if you like old-school tabletop games and text-based experiences.
In the Lovecraftian world of Fallen London, this roguelike with a dark art style will take you all over the Zee, an underground sea full of secrets.
You’ll find strange cultures and sea monsters that humans can’t understand.
Even though you aren’t necessarily a pirate, the game’s choose-your-own-adventure style gives you enough freedom to act as a ship, an explorer, a runner – even of things like mummies, who aren’t allowed to travel – and so on.
There, you can steal, steal from others, and do other bad things.
17. Skull & Bones
As of this writing, it’s hard to rank a game that hasn’t come out yet, but all signs point to Skull & Bones being the next big thing in pirate games… if the early 2021 date for its release is accurate.
Ubisoft is making it. After making ACIV: Black Flag, they saw that there was money to be made in the Caribbean Sea.
Ubisoft and the last E3 trailer for 2018 show that tasks should be a lot more complicated than just destroying enemy ships.
Stealth and planning also look like important parts of the game, and the number of ships and ways to customize them look like they could keep you busy for hours.
The idea behind this game is to build on what made Black Flag such a great pirate game and make it even better. If it’s done right, it will be a great game.
Check it out for yourself in 2020 (or, heaven forbid, 2021) and tell us what you think.
16. Skies Of Arcadia
In the steampunk world, pirates are a big deal. Adding airships to pirates makes it more interesting and draws more people in.
The steampunk sky pirates in Skies of Arcadia are a rare sight in video games. Players take control of Vyse, a new pirate, as he gets into a fight with the Valuan Empire.
Skies of Arcadia works like a typical turn-based role-playing game. Its gameplay doesn’t depend much on hacking and isn’t very open-ended.
But it has a lot to do with theft, and that has a big effect on the story. People also think that the game is a good RPG that is worth playing.
15. Tropico 2: Pirate Cove
Most of the Tropico games can be thought of as “Dictatorship Simulator 2099,” but the second game in the series adds something new: ocean piracy.
You are the Pirate King of a Pirate Island. You are in charge of every pirate’s life as they go out into the world to find power and wealth.
Your shanty town can slowly turn into a real pirate haven as the dirty scallywags bring you supplies and slaves to work for you.
In this strategic city-building game, one of the most interesting things is that you have to balance the pirates’ weird needs, like grog and wenches, with the needs of a growing captive population that needs religion and security so they don’t go crazy working for you.
It’s something you really have to play to understand, so if you have the time, give it a shot.
Risen doesn’t seem to break any rules or try anything new at first glance. Risen is an action role-playing game like a lot of other games from its time, especially the Gothic series by the same creator.
This game, on the other hand, takes a familiar format and makes it new with a fun RPG set in the Mediterranean that is all about pirates.
The map is big, with lots of places to explore, find new side quests, and fight enemies. It’s a standard RPG, and it’s likely that two sequels will come out of it.
Both versions got mixed reviews, but fans of pirate video games should still check them out.
13. Pixel Piracy
Pixel Piracy by Quadro Delta is a must-play if, like me, you can’t help but be drawn to the simple beauty of indie games.
This side-scrolling roguelike puts you in charge of a pixelated ship traveling the two-dimensional Caribbean. The graphics are similar to those in Terraria.
You’ll fight against enemy ships at sea, lead your team into battle with wild animals on islands, and die gloriously so you can try again.
Both the music and the pictures are very charming.
But what makes this game so fun is how much power you have over every part of the ship you’re simulating.
You can pretty much build it block by block and keep track of your crew’s stores and gear in a very detailed way. That’s so cute!
12. LEGO Pirates Of The Caribbean
LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean is based on the first four movies. It follows the same pattern that fans are used to: you play through movie scenes, break LEGO pieces, earn studs, unlock characters, and have fun with cartoon action.
From fighting the famous villain Hector Barbossa on Isla de Muerta to fighting Davy Jones in the Maelstrom, LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean recreates scenes from the movies with a mix of loving truth and irreverent charm.
Even though there is no speech, the way characters like Jack Sparrow and Barbossa act is very funny.
11. Ratchet & Clank Quest For Booty
Pirates go to space in Ratchet & Clank: Quest for Booty. It’s a short story that you can download digitally and read between Tools of Destruction and A Crack in Time.
Ratchet is looking for Clank with a wrench instead of a cutlass, but he still moves like a pirate.
Quest for Booty has a pirate theme, but the gunplay is still the same as in other games in the series.
Most Ratchet and Clank games are longer, but this one is quicker and cheaper. It’s a perfect little pirate adventure that takes place in a world that gamers already know.
10. Sid Meier’s Pirates!
Sid Meier’s Pirates! has to be one of the most important pirate-themed games ever made, full stop.
Both the original version, which came out in 1987, and the more well-known remake, which came out in 2004, changed the game in a big way.
You play as a young man from a royal family that has fallen on hard times and wants to get back at the Marquis who betrayed them by turning into a privateer.
But once it lets you out into the world, you can do whatever you want.
There are duels, ship takeovers, and difficult managerial decisions, like how to split the loot among the crew. Hey, they’re working, so they earn some treats!
You can work on getting a good image as a pirate, do anything to make money, or even go ballroom dancing if you want to.
If you’ve never played this game before but like pirate themes, you should definitely get this.
9. The Monkey Island Series
The Monkey Island series is one of the best point-and-click adventure games. It was made by the same people who made Grim Fandango.
The Secret of Monkey Island is like Grim Fandango in that it has puzzles and funny cartoon characters.
Some of the best lines in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies can be traced back to the Monkey Island games.
This was true even for the fourth game in the series, Escape from Monkey Island, which was very similar to Grim Fandango. Return to Monkey Island came out in 2022.
It picks up where the first two games left off and asks players to find the secret of Monkey Island again.
This series is a lot of fun for people who like to solve puzzles, make choices about what to say, and hang out with fun characters.
Are you a fan of pirates?
Ambiences that pull you in? Doing too much?
Then BlackWake by Mastfire Studios is the pirate game you want to play.
This military first-person shooter puts a lot of emphasis on working as a team, but it’s about a lot more than just shooting strategically.
You have to take care of every part of sailing and fighting, from raising the sails by hand to loading your guns one ball at a time.
Up to 16 people on a single ship with a captain in charge sounds like a recipe for chaos, but it also sounds like a lot of fun.
7. Pillars Of Eternity 2: Deadfire
Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire is an isometric RPG with pirates, which is a nice change from the normal third-person games.
It is similar to the Diablo or Baldur’s Gate series. Even though military action isn’t perfect, the open world and fighting make up for it.
Like the first Pillars of Eternity game, Deadifre has a strong story and role-playing experience. The character creator is very detailed, so players can make the seafarer of their dreams.
The fiction setting takes place in a world similar to Middle-earth or Tamriel, but it is the 17th century. Pillars of Eternity 2 was made by Obsidian, which also made Fallout: New Vegas and The Outer Worlds, two RPGs that mix genres.
6. Uncharted 4
In the last Uncharted game, Nathan Drake, the series’ main character, teams up with his long-lost brother to find a lost pirate wealth.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End uses the PlayStation 4’s tech to its fullest. It has the same beautiful settings and realistic character animations as the rest of the series.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End builds on the platforming and shooting of the previous games by adding bigger, more open-ended areas and new ways to play, like the grappling hook.
The game has an adventurous feel, and the big bad and Nate fight with swords at the end.
5. The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition
Guybrush Threepwood, the young star of the Monkey Island games who wants to be a pirate, is well-known to anyone who likes pirate games.
Since the first Secret of Monkey Island game came out in 1990, this may be where a lot of current pirates get their start in the hobby.
Monkey Island has become a real classic of the point-and-click genre because it has such charming characters, a tight plot, and witty humor that keeps the story moving.
The original art style is one of the most loved parts of the game.
But I’d rather draw your attention to the remake of the first game in the series that came out not too long ago.
The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition has better sound, more detailed hand-drawn art, and great voice acting.
GreedFall feels like a mixture of Dragon Age and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. GreedFall shows how much love and care Focus Interactive put into the game, which could have turned out to be a messy mess.
This is the best effort to turn pirates into an RPG out of all the ones that have been made.
The player’s decisions will affect the whole task, whether they use diplomacy, stealth, or go all out in combat.
GreedFall has one of the most interesting worlds and a lot of weird monsters that would fit in with The Witcher.
However, the game never strays too far from the 17th-century style that makes it feel like a pirate game should.
3. Sea of Thieves
I couldn’t make a list of pirate games without including what might be the most famous and well-known one right now.
A few years ago, Rare’s Sea of Thieves came out with a lot of potential but not much to show for it.
Combat that was fun and different, sailing features that worked well, and a lot of ways to change how you looked were all good signs that the game could be great.
But it didn’t have any substance. Nothing there.
After two years and some big updates, this massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) has become a true staple of the genre thanks to the developers’ tireless work.
Players are very excited about it, and they say that adding a PvP area was one of the best things that happened to the game.
Playing on both the Xbox One and the PC is also a nice touch.
Not to mention the cool clothes you can make for yourself.
2. The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Pirates don’t come up very often in the Legend of Zelda games. Link is a more traditional hero who usually fights enemies on land.
But The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is mostly about experiences at sea. This means that there will be a lot of pirates in the story of the game.
Link is not a pirate on his own. The version of Zelda in The Wind Waker, on the other hand, is. Link works with Captain Tetra, as she is called, to save his sister and get to the Triforce as quickly as possible.
The pirates in the game don’t do much theft. Even the things they do that are wrong are brave. But the game makes heavy use of the style and has great sailing controls.
1. Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag
Black Flag is often named as one of the best of the many Assassin’s Creed games, and for good reason.
The story of how rogue pirate Edward Kenway became a hero of the seven seas was a fan choice because it focused more on the past and had a very different assassin.
Many fans are still upset that there was never an Edward Kenway Assassin’s Creed trilogy.
Fans of the Assassin’s Creed series will like that Black Flag follows the series’ usual pattern, but it also makes the player feel like a pirate.
The player can meet famous pirates like Blackbeard and Mary Read, sail across the Caribbean, listen to shanties, find wealth, raid ships, and do anything else a pirate might want to do.
It may seem strange that Assassin’s Creed is the best pirate game, but the fact that a Legend of Zelda game is also on the list shows how flexible the genre can be.