30 Best Pirate-Themed Video Games Ever Made (For PC & Consoles)

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Ever since pirates became a media phenomenon, people have looked at the horizon over the waves and thought “my life is boring; I should become a pirate”.

Only a few have gone on to become criminals in international waters.

The rest of us? We read books and comics about seadogs. We watch films about filibusters and their dastardly deeds… and we play video games that let us fly the Jolly Roger.

It may not be as common a theme as medieval fantasy or the post-apocalyptic, but there’s always a steady stream of pirate games being released. Some of them better than others.

To find where the booty lies and make the rest walk the plank, I’ve put together this post of the most exciting pirate games out there.

So grab your cutlasses and all hands on deck! We have a long journey ahead of us in our search for the best pirate game ever made.

30. Pirate101

Pirate101 gameplay screenshot

Developed by KingIsle Entertainment as a sister game to Wizard101, this MMORPG lets players command their own ship, befriend companions, and explore diverse locales.

All in search of glory and plunder as one of the many pirate-related classes.

After eight years of continuous development, there’s plenty of content to go through.

Luckily the game’s colorful and bright aesthetic is a pleasure to look at, so you won’t get tired fast either.

 

29. Blood & Gold: Caribbean!

Blood & Gold: Caribbean gameplay screenshot

If you’re looking for something a little less cartoonish, consider Blood & Gold: Caribbean from Snowbird Games.

This open-world RPG is all about giving players freedom over their adventure.

So whether you want to get rich by trading sugar, or marry a governor’s daughter and lead a colony in their fight against the Spanish Crown, it’s all up to you.

Despite its interesting mechanics and how much there is to do in this game, Blood & Gold suffers from questionable execution and carries over some of the less functional parts of the Mount & Blade engine that it’s built on, which keeps it from a higher spot.

 

28. Shantae (Series)

Shantae and The Pirate's Curse gameplay screenshot

On the other hand we have WayForward Technologies’ Shantae series, which boasts simple yet extremely polished gameplay.

Not to mention a very charming aesthetic that’s sure to pique your interest.

You play as Shantae, the half-genie guardian of Sequin, as she defends her homeland against the evil lady pirate Risky Boots.

This platformer is known for its amazing boss fights against Risky Boots’ crew of pirate fiends, which provide both a visual spectacle and a big challenge.

 

27. Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean gameplay screenshot

Movie tie-ins aren’t known for their inherent quality.

But don’t let that keep you from giving this game a try – it was only re-branded late into development to take advantage of Pirates of the Caribbean’s big popularity, so only some details are related to the movie.

Take control of Nathaniel Hawk and go around buying ships, recruiting officers, and boarding enemy vessels to complete quests for factions in the game.

Despite being a relatively old title originally released on the Xbox, I do think the sailing mechanics were pretty sophisticated. Two key factors for success: taking the wind into account and picking the right ammo to avoid naval altercations.

 

26. Man O’War: Corsair – Warhammer Naval Battles

Man O’War: Corsair – Warhammer Naval Battles gameplay screenshot

Most people would first picture beefy space marines with big pauldrons rather than sailing pirates when thinking about Warhammer.

But this tabletop game-based universe is larger than most people realize, and there are all kinds of adventures to be had within it.

Developer Evil Twin Artworks filled the oceans in this game with bizarre ships to board and fearsome sea monsters to defeat.

There are also several ships to buy & upgrade with the resources you’ll get from exploring, trading, and of course a little piracy.

What makes this game so good is how it manages to keep things grounded and successfully brings together the usual pirate fare with one of the most bizarre settings you can imagine.

 

25. Crimson: Steam Pirates

Crimson: Steam Pirates gameplay screenshot

If flying demons and sea monsters aren’t your cup of tea, how about a steampunk take on the pirate mythos?

Developed by Harebrained Schemes, Crimson: Steam Pirates is an amazing turn-based strategy game focused mostly on naval combat.

What’s so interesting about it is its setting: an alternate 19th century where the most unlikely characters such as Jules Verne and Nikola Tesla take to the seas, each bringing different skills and abilities that’ll aid you in battle.

If you’re in the mood for a polished RTS on iOS, this is the game for you.

 

24. Risen 2: Dark Waters

Risen 2: Dark Waters gameplay screenshot

After the resounding success that was the original Risen in 2009, expectations were pretty high for the sequel.

Especially after it was announced that the game would abandon its more traditional fantasy aesthetic in favor of… well, pirates.

Risen 2: Dark Waters is an action-RPG set several years after the original Risen, in a world now devastated by titans.

It’s about pirates alright.

But set in a world full of dark magic, sea monsters, and voodoo just waiting for a brave soul to conquer it.

You’ll shape the world based on your decisions as a player. This means unlocking new paths, skills, and features as you progress through a huge variety of dank caves, dark jungles, and vicious locales.

Among the game’s better features are its much-improved voice acting, great soundtrack, and surprisingly not-cliché humor.

Worth a try although you may want to pick up the original Risen first.

 

23. Windward

Windward gameplay screenshot

There’s nothing quite like a good game with an even better story behind it.

Windward was born after developer Michael Lyashenko attended a talk by renowned game designer Sid Meier, where he asked whether he could copy his classic Sid Meier’s Pirates! Game.

The rest is history.

The main difference between Windward and its inspiration is a heightened focus on sailing and naval combat.

The world is a giant procedurally-generated sandbox waiting for you to conquer it.

Full of quests to complete, trade to profit from and ships to sink beneath the waves of a lush Caribbean landscape.

If you like Meier’s games you’ll probably enjoy this one quite a bit.

 

22. DK Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest

DK Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest gameplay screenshot

Released way back in 1995 for the SNES by renowned developer Rare, DKC2: Diddy’s Kong Conquest is a platformer where the pirate theme comes from the enemies rather than the protagonist.

And it’s definitely noticeable all the way through the game.

It takes place on Crocodile Isle where King K. Rool and his gang of pirate reptiles have imprisoned Diddy’s uncle, Donkey Kong.

To free him you must traverse several dangerous environments tainted by the evil pirates’ scourge and defeat K. Rool’s lackeys in epic boss fights. And this takes 2D platforming to its height(especially by SNES standards).

This game was among the best selling titles of the year in 1995, and for good reason.

Not only does it have one of the best soundtracks in gaming as a whole, but the sprites and backgrounds are so detailed and well-made that they might as well be 3D.

If you’re a fan of retro gaming this is a must-play.

 

21. Port Royale: Gold, Power and Pirates

Port Royale: Gold, Power and Pirates gameplay screenshot

For those of you who aren’t all that fond of intense action but still want to immerse yourselves deep into the Age of Piracy and its aesthetic, the classic economic simulator Port Royale: Gold, Power and Pirates is the way to go.

Developed by Ascaron Entertainment and released in 2002, Port Royale puts you in control of a budding port town and lets you take it from there.

You can choose whether to focus on trade, or manage pirates to bring economic prosperity and growth to your people.

Build your reputation with the local naval powers, accept quests from other governors, and slowly but surely turn your little port town into a true crossroads of the Caribbean.

If you like it, make sure to check out its many sequels which feature updated graphics and a more complex simulation.

 

20. Ratchet & Clank: Quest for Booty

Ratchet & Clank: Quest for Booty gameplay screenshot

Insomniac Games’ Ratchet & Clank has always appealed to long-time fans with its charming aesthetic and endearing characters.

But Quest for Booty throws a heavy bucket of pirate paint all over it to create a very unique title; even for a franchise as quirky as this one.

This PS3 game has been criticized since release for being too short.

But in turn, the entire experience is extremely polished and packed with content, letting you enjoy your time as a Lombax buccaneer to the fullest.

There’s cool puzzles, even cooler shootouts, and almost every supporting character is a robot sea-dog!

What’s not to like?

 

19. Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasures

Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasures gameplay screenshot

The Nintendo Wii didn’t have that many options for filibusters like us.

But there’s one little gem that stands out from its roster.

Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasures is a charming Adventure/Puzzle game featuring the titular characters front & center.

The game plays out as they join a pirate crew and sail around looking for parts of the great pirate Barbaros’ cursed body. Good times, right?

This game is mostly a point-and-click affair, but with several interesting puzzles that make surprisingly good use of the Wii’s motion controls so that it feels like an integral part of gameplay. Much better than adding this feature a gimmick they tacked on late in development.

I’ve never been a fan of characters quite as rowdy as the titular Zack and his monkey friend Wiki.

But for an adventure as quirky as this one, if you’re looking for hours of entertainment these young pirates are just the scallywags for the job.

 

18. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker gameplay screenshot

It may be a bit of a stretch to straight out call The Wind Waker a “pirate game”, but there are definitely pirates in it!

Even the titular Zelda takes the form of a self-sufficient pirate captain known as Tetra, and the entire game takes place as you sail from island to island on your own vessel, the King of Red Lions… even if it’s more of a sailboat than a pirate ship.

Still, this naval take on the classic Zelda framework is a piece of art from every perspective.

It comes with an amazing story, visually striking and colorful vistas, and one of the best soundtracks the series has seen to date – including some tracks any buccaneer would feel like clapping their hook hands to.

There aren’t many dastardly deeds to perform given you’re a bit of a fabled hero, but if immersive sailing, great naval combat, and mapping the entirety of the known world sound piratey to you… well then you have to give this game a try.

LoZ fans will likely have already played it but if not then definitely grab a copy!

 

17. Assassin’s Creed Rogue

Assassin’s Creed Rogue gameplay screenshot

After the release of the critically-acclaimed pirate epic ACIV: Black Flag, Ubisoft realized they had hit jackpot with the open-world sailing gameplay and general naval aesthetic.

To continue to cash in on this success as they worked on their next main entry in the AC series, they made a sort of spiritual sequel in the form of Rogue.

Here sailing takes center stage once again – except the tropical Caribbean is replaced by the cold waters of the North Atlantic.

The protagonist Shay Patrick Cormack is neither assassin nor a pirate. But the same naval spirit and gameplay from Black Flag is present in Rogue, sea shanties and all!

 

16. Assassin’s Creed: Freedom Cry

Assassin’s Creed: Freedom Cry gameplay screenshot

Originally released as DLC for ACIV: Black Flag but later given a full standalone release, Freedom Cry follows Edward Kenway’s former pirate companion, the escaped slave Adéwalé, in a perilous quest to sabotage the Slave Trade and oppose the Templars involved in its operation.

The game takes a lot of the focus from piracy and puts it back on the whole “Assassin’s Creed” setting.

But the spirit of rebellion and fighting for freedom with blood & steel remains very much central in Freedom Cry.

It even includes some missions featuring the somewhat underrated Avéline de Grandpré from Assassin’s Creed Liberation, for those of us who loved that game and were left wanting more.

I’d understand if any of you felt this wasn’t piratey-enough.

But considering the game won an award from the Writers’ Guild of America, I think you can put down your blunderbusses and give it a try before you make me walk the plank.

 

15. Lego Pirates of the Caribbean

Lego Pirates of the Caribbean gameplay screenshot

LEGO games have become a bit of a staple in terms of movie tie-ins.

The charming LEGO humor and art-style seems to go well with everything – and that includes Pirates of the Caribbean.

This action-adventure game from Traveler’s Tales plays just like every other LEGO game, making you go from level to level collecting studs, completing puzzles, and duking it out against plenty of enemies.

The best part about this game?

It’s one of the few on the list that allows co-op multiplayer.

So grab a friend, choose your characters (maybe even some of the unlockable pirates) and go on to conquer the seven seas together.

 

14. Nightmares from the Deep: The Cursed Heart

Nightmares from the Deep: The Cursed Heart gameplay screenshot

Some games are all about the aesthetic.

And few will make you feel as immersed in a dark, dank pirate adventure as Artifex Mundi’s Nightmares from the Deep: The Cursed Heart.

This grimdark point-and-click experience features gorgeous visuals and some great puzzles which rely heavily on the classic “hidden object” formula the genre is known for.

You play as a museum owner hunting down an undead pirate after your daughter is kidnapped, taking you on an adventure that will parade you through catacombs, caves, and jungles full of secrets and danger.

Since its release in 2012, the game has seen several sequels. All of which are pretty damn good.

Plus even if you were to go through all of them, Artifex Mundi has other games with a similar setting in its roster, such as Uncharted Tides: Port Royal. Check out their site for some other titles you might dig into.

 

13. Age of Booty

Age of Booty gameplay screenshot

Anyone who’s been reading these articles for long enough will know I’m in love with hexes ever since I played Civilization IV for the first time.

Well ladies and gents, I give you the most hex-heavy pirate game in existence – Age of Booty.

Developed by Certain Affinity for Windows, PS3, and Xbox 360, this wonderful RTS puts you in control of a pirate ship sailing the Caribbean.

The sole objective?

Looting enemy vessels and capturing towns for the benefit of your faction. Neat!

To put it simply, it’s Civilization’s naval combat game-play. But much more fleshed out given it’s basically the whole point of the game.

Just keep in mind that this game is only worth it for the multiplayer(in my eyes). If you’re looking for a single-player experience, there are other better titles to pick up.

 

12. Tempest

Tempest gameplay screenshot

On the other hand, Lion’s Shade’s open-world pirate epic was designed with crafting an engaging single-player adventure as the main focus.

And the results are marvelous.

Yet rather than putting you on a single set path, Tempest drops you in a world full of mysteries to uncover, quests to complete, and storylines to follow as you see fit.

You’re free to roam aimlessly through the ocean looking for trouble, or set a course through unknown areas….

To put it bluntly, you’re a pirate. And you don’t answer to anyone!

Except, well, maybe the murderous sea monsters hiding in the depths.

You’re kind of obligated to be ready for those.

 

11. Skies of Arcadia

Skies of Arcadia gameplay screenshot

Another pirate RPG but of an entirely different kind is Skies of Arcadia, developed by Overworks and published by SEGA for the Dreamcast back in 2000.

You play as the young sky pirate Vyse as he and his ragtag band of buccaneers fight to stop the Valian Empire from acquiring an ancient weapon that’ll let them conquer the world… or destroy it.

This JRPG is one of the hidden gems from the Dreamcast’s roster, bringing together that classic Japanese fantasy style with a pirate aesthetic.

No to mention great anti-hero characters and a big open sky waiting to be explored.

An enhanced version was also released on the GameCube in 2003 as Skies of Arcadia Legends, so that might be the version to go for nowadays if you want better graphics & music.

 

10. Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire gameplay screenshot

In a similar fashion to Risen 2, the second installment of the well-loved Pillars of Eternity franchise takes a turn for the pirate.

All while maintaining its excellent isometric RPG gameplay inspired by giants like Diablo II and Baldur’s Gate.

Sail to the Deadfire Archipelago at the behest of the God of Death to find a way to defeat Eothas, the God of Life and Rebirth that threatens to destroy the world.

Yes, you heard that right.

You’re not only the scourge of the oceans, but the Herald of Death!

Navigating the seas is done by guiding your ship through the map in a way that’s similar to what you’d see in an Age of Empires game, fog of war and all.

And combat is handled in a text-based fashion reminiscent of a tabletop RPG like D&D.

Considering it’s one of the most recently released entries in the list, available on all major eighth-generation platforms, you’d be a landlubber not to try it.

 

9. Sunless Sea

Sunless Sea gameplay screenshot

Another game that you’ll definitely like if you’re a fan of old-school tabletop games and text-based adventures is Sunless Sea.

Set in the Lovecraftian world of Fallen London, this roguelike with a dark art style will take you all across the Zee, an underground sea full of mysteries.

You’ll come across bizarre civilizations and sea monsters beyond human comprehension.

And while you’re not necessarily a pirate, the choose-your-own-adventure storytelling of the game gives you enough freedom to choose whether you act as a transport vessel, an explorer, a smuggler – including stuff like mummy-people who’re banned from traveling – and so on.

Loot, plunder, and other dastardly deeds are there waiting for you.

 

8. Skull & Bones

Skull & Bones gameplay screenshot

It’s a bit complicated to rank a game that hasn’t been released(as of this writing) but everything points to Skull & Bones being the next big thing in the world of pirate games… if its release date of early 2021 holds any water.

It’s being developed by Ubisoft, who realized after ACIV: Black Flag that there was money to be made in the waters of the Caribbean.

According to Ubisoft and what’s shown on the last 2018 E3 trailer, missions should be considerably more complex than simply destroying enemy ships.

Stealth and preparation also look vital to the gameplay, and the sheer variety of ships and customization options seem enough to keep you busy for hours on end.

Taking everything that made Black Flag such a great pirate game and further developing it… that’s the concept behind this game, which will make it an amazing title if done right.

Check it out yourself in 2020(or god forbid, 2021) and let us know your thoughts!

 

7. Tropico 2: Pirate Cove

Tropico 2: Pirate Cove gameplay screenshot

While most of the Tropico franchise is easily understood as “Dictatorship Simulator 20XX”, its second installment adds a unique ingredient into the mix: ocean piracy.

You’re the Pirate King of a Pirate Island, managing the lives of every buccaneer as they go out into the world looking for power and riches.

Slowly your shanty town can grow into a true pirate stronghold as the filthy scallywags bring back resources and captives to serve as your laborers.

Among the most interesting features of this strategic city-builder is the need to balance the deviant needs of the pirates, such as grog and wenches, with the demands of a growing captive population in need of religion and stability not to go insane in your service.

It’s something you really have to play to appreciate so definitely give this a try if you have the patience.

 

6. Pixel Piracy

Pixel Piracy gameplay screenshot

If you’re like me and can’t help but feel drawn to the unpretentious charm of indie games, then Quadro Delta’s Pixel Piracy is a must-play.

With graphics vaguely reminiscent of Terraria, this side-scrolling roguelike puts you in command of a pixelated vessel sailing the two-dimensional Caribbean.

You’ll face enemy ships in naval combat, lead your crew into battle with wild animals on islands, and die gloriously only to try again.

The soundtrack is absolutely charming, as are the visuals.

But what makes this game so good is the degree of control you have over every aspect of your simulated ship.

You can basically design it block by block and manage your crew’s supplies and equipment with great detail. How sweet is that?

 

5. Sid Meier’s Pirates!

Sid Meier’s Pirates! gameplay screenshot

Sid Meier’s Pirates! has to be one of the most influential titles in the history of pirate-themed games, period.

This sophisticated piracy simulator completely changed the game, both at the time of its original release in 1987, and the more well-known remake from 2004.

The game gives you a basic narrative framework, putting you in control of a young man from a fallen noble family seeking revenge against the Marquis that betrayed them by becoming a privateer.

But once it lets you out into the world, you’re free to do whatever you want.

There are duels, ship boardings, and complex management matters like dividing the plunder among the crew. Hey, they’re doing some work and they deserve a few spoils!

You can focus on earning your pirate reputation, go to any length to line your coffers, or even go ballroom dancing if you wish.

If you’ve never played this title, but you’re a fan of pirate themes, absolutely pick this up.

 

4. BlackWake

BlackWake gameplay screenshot

Do you like pirates?

Immersive ambiances? Micromanaging?

Then Mastfire Studios’ BlackWake is the pirate game for you.

This naval FPS puts a heavy focus on teamwork, but it goes much further than just strategic shooting.

You need to manage every single thing involved in sailing and combat, from manually hoisting the sails to loading your cannons one cannonball at a time.

Up to 16 players manning a single ship under the leadership of a captain sounds like the perfect recipe for chaos, but also a lot of fun.

 

3. The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition gameplay screenshot

Anyone fond of pirate games is familiar with Guybrush Threepwood, the young hero and wannabe-pirate from the Monkey Island franchise.

Considering the original Secret of Monkey Island was released way back in 1990, this may be the start of the pirate passion for a lot of modern scallywags!

With incredibly charming characters and a tight narrative carried along by the game’s witty humor, Monkey Island has become a true classic of the point-and-click genre.

The original graphic style is one of the game’s most beloved features.

But I’d rather direct your attention to the recent remake of the first title in the series.

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition provides enhanced audio, a more detailed hand-drawn art-style, and excellent voice acting.

 

2. Sea of Thieves

Sea of Thieves gameplay screenshot

I couldn’t possibly rank pirate games without including what’s possibly the most notorious and popular title in the genre nowadays.

Rare’s Sea of Thieves came out some years ago with a lot of promise but little to show for it.

The basis for a great game was there thanks to some very fun and unique combat, excellent sailing mechanics, and lots of cosmetic customization.

But there was no meat to it. No content.

Two years after release and some new major updates later, this MMORPG has become a true staple of the genre thanks to the developers’ endless efforts

And players are very enthusiastic about it, citing the addition of a PvP arena as one of the best enhancements the game has received.

The cross-platform play between Xbox One and PC users is also a nice touch.

Not to mention the awesome outfits you can dress yourself up with.

 

1. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag gameplay screenshot

I know this comes as no surprise to anyone, but I’ll say it anyway:

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is the single best pirate game ever made.

It may sound a bit exaggerated to say it with such confidence. But I think only people who haven’t played it would think so.

This game is amazing.

The aesthetic is perfect, the landscapes are both lush and realistic, sailing feels absolutely perfect, as does naval combat – and there are sea shanties!

That’s not to say the game is perfect. But virtually all of the criticism it has gotten comes from being too little of an Assassin’s Creed game and too focused on piracy – which is exactly what we’re looking for here.

And really, most reviews have been pretty positive ever since release.

Not only that, but apart from the usual pirate fare of sinking and boarding ships, you can even dive for treasure in underwater shipwrecks and harpoon legendary whales. It’s insane!

Every time I feel like getting away from everything and losing myself in the salty winds of the Caribbean, I boot up ACIV.

Then I get on the Jackdaw and sail into the horizon. It still feels just as good now as the first time.

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Nelson Chitty

Nelson Chitty is a Venezuelan expat living in Argentina. He’s a writer and translator passionate about history and foreign cultures. His ideal weekend is spent between leisurely games of Civilization VI and looking for the next seinen anime to marathon.