Arr matey, I see yer interested in the best pirate games on PC. Why, it’ll always be a good idea to want to be a buccaneer. The clash o’ swords, the deck at your feet, the sea in yer beard, the grog in your stomach – ‘tis a pirate’s life that’s right for us.
No point in sitting ‘round here thinkin’ bout it. Yar better bring in the anchor and hoist the sails, for we be setting off on an adventure, scanning the seas for the finest treasure on sea or land. That’s right, a veritable bounty of the best pirate games on yer fine vessel, the PC.
Right, that’s enough talking like that, we’re starting to get a headache. There’s nothing more liberating than being a pirate. No, not that kind of pirate – you’ll want to pay for this selection of games to support the creators and get the best experience possible. From insult swordfighting to dodging krakens, the PC boasts the finest pirate games out there. Let’s have a look then, shall we? Let’s run our swords through the best pirate games on PC. Just try not to spill your grog on the way, landlubber.
Here are the best pirate games on PC:
When you’re talking pirate games, right at the top should always be the Monkey Island series from LucasArts. These are some of the finest point-and-click adventures ever made, and for our interests here, the five games in the series manage to explore every aspect of the buccaneer lifestyle.
All of the Monkey Island games are great, but if you’re going to settle on just one then it’s the third game, The Curse of Monkey Island, you should boot up as it works as a ‘best of’ for the series. It’s funny, clever, and thanks to the hand-painted backdrops, it’s still one of the best looking games around. Add to that brilliant voice acting, a song and dance number, and the debut of Murray the demonic skull – one of the best videogame characters conceived – and you have a point-and-click masterpiece.
It’s also the one game in the quintology in which you can actually sail a ship and indulge in some piracy, which is kind of important for a list of the best pirate games. And yes, of course there’s insult swordfighting – it wouldn’t be a Monkey Island game without it.
What really sells it is Edward Kenway, who is a deeply likeable central character, and the coolest assassin in history. The story of his fight to stop the Templars finding the Sage is undoubtedly entertaining for Assassin’s Creed fans, but the tale of Kenway and the other captains’ attempts to establish a pirate utopia has a much broader appeal.
You captain your own ship and crew, sailing the entire Caribbean hunting for vessels to raid, treasures to be stolen, and adventures to be had. The ship-to-ship combat is a highlight, it being intense in the moment, while also being easy to pick up – this isn’t a naval simulator. But let’s not forget the fantastic sea shanties. Who needs an epic orchestral soundtrack when you can sail the seas to your crew singing ‘The Coast of High Barbary’, ‘Lowlands Away’, or the classic ‘Drunken Sailor’?
Rather than an action-adventure game, Sea Dogs is more of a pirate RPG – in fact, you don’t even have to be a pirate if you don’t fancy it.
After escaping with a group of prisoners, you take your tiny sloop and, from there, you’re free to do as you wish. You can work your way through various story paths, accept missions from different countries, take cargo, and even become a trading merchant if you so choose. Or, take the missions from the pirates and become the biggest, most terrible privateer on the seven seas. The choice is yours. Yes, the graphics and the voice acting may have aged, but this is still a top competitor for the best RPGs on PC.
There’s actually an equally good sequel, Sea Dogs 2, which was repurposed by Disney and turned into the official Pirates of the Caribbean game alongside the first movie. Unfortunately, due to the IP it’s not currently available on PC, but the original is probably the better game anyway – and both of its excellent expansions are on GOG.
Pirates of the Caribbean is the most successful pirate movie series, but unfortunately, games based on the franchise seem to be cursed (‘tis that voodoo lady) – they’re either awful, hard to play on modern PCs, or have been cancelled. Fortunately, Lego Pirates of the Caribbean is great as it represents the series well and is easily available.
Lego Pirates of the Caribbean spans the first four movies, lovingly recreating them with great humour, as you’d expect from developer TT Games. Expect everything from Elizabeth spotting the Black Pearl to the destruction of the Fountain of Youth.
This is the last Lego game that has no voice acting. Which might sound like a downside, but it’s the opposite – aside from negating all language barriers, the mimed jokes are one of the strong points of the Lego games. The biggest draw is how the games tap into that primal urge to collect everything. There’s little as satisfying as 100% completing a Lego game.
The creator of Civilization and the team that would go on to make XCOM at Firaxis made a pirate strategy game once. Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s one of the best pirate games of all time, and shouldn’t be forgotten. It’s actually a 2004 remake of a game Sid Meier made in 1987, but due to the stylish art and simple, intelligent gameplay, the remake is far more playable – and just as fun today as it was back then.
Sid Meier’s Pirates! is an open-world strategy-adventure that’s just as addictive as Civilization or XCOM, and a great deal more lighthearted in tone. You work your way up from being an insignificant captain on a dreary vessel to becoming the most feared pirate on the seas. You can ransack towns, raid ships, take on rivals, and even go ballroom dancing.
Your exploits don’t stop at your own adventures, either – you can influence and alter the entire political landscape of the Caribbean. Intercept a ship carrying a peace treaty between England and Spain and they might launch an attack against each other, leaving you to go about your plunderin’ without worry. This is probably the most addictive and playable game on this list – but what did you expect from the creator of Civilization?
The first Pillars of Eternity was an attempt to recapture what made classic fantasy RPGs so beloved, and it was a damn good job. For the sequel, however, developer Obsidian Entertainment took a swashbuckling direction, and made one of the best games of 2018.
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is a fantasy RPG in the style of early BioWare games, but it’s also an excellent pirate game with a fantasy twist. The story picks up about five years after the first game, with you once again taking the role of the Watcher – now returned to life to hunt the dead god Eothas through the Deadfire Archipelago. The story is written to captivate and it doesn’t falter in that effort once. The world is a joy to explore, too – it feels alive, as if populated by real people, a charming cast that tests your morals and challenges your gumption.
At its heart, though, Deadfire is a pure pirate game. You sail your trusty vessel through uncharted waters, fighting in tactical ship battles, hunting down bounties, and taking part in an epic high-seas adventure.
The Beast of Winter DLC sees you travel to the frozen wastes to face down the titular Beast, and Seeker, Slayer, Survivor provides a new combat challenge with three different arena challenges on a story-rich island. The Forgotten Sanctum DLC rounds out the trio with challenging endgame battles alongside compelling new characters, and serves as a conclusion to the much-loved plot.
The path that the Risen series has taken is a funny one. Developer Piranha Bytes lost the rights to the Gothic series, so instead created Risen as much the same type of game – a fantasy action-RPG played straight. It was fine and fairly well-received, but for Risen 2 the studio entered a pirate-themed world, and thank goodness it did. Swords, ships, and jungles, it’s a cool idea – shame the game isn’t that great.
With Risen 3: Titan Lords, however, the team got the balance right. The final Risen game is much more fun, and most importantly, a much better pirate game. It also corrects the biggest omission of Risen 2 in that you can actually sail and captain your own pirate ship. Combat isn’t the awful unfair mess that it was in Dark Waters as it’s been heavily tweaked so now it’s properly fun.
You also get to have a parrot, which automatically qualifies it for this list of best pirate games. In fact, there’s a fearsome Ghost Pirate, a British female companion, a voodoo priestess who offers advice, and you can pick up a monkey. Yes, it’s not just any pirate game, this is basically a Monkey Island RPG. Get some grog down you to celebrate.
Korean medieval fantasy MMO ArcheAge lets you choose to rule the seas as a dastardly pirate, gathering the treasures of the deep while dragons wheel overhead. Previously, ArcheAge was among the finest free PC games, but limited several features to ‘patrons’ only, meaning that subscriptions were pretty crucial if you wanted to experience all the game has to offer. The recent launch of ArcheAge Unchained has given players a new start in which content is available to all players for a one time fee.
Becoming and playing as a pirate in ArcheAge Unchained is a true challenge. There will only be 100 pirates permitted per server, and if you don’t log in for a week you’ll lose your pirate status – pirates don’t go on holiday, though they do get abandoned on beaches occasionally. As a pirate you’re prevented from mingling with wider society, you can’t be part of a guild, and it’s harder to gear up. However you are free to commit crimes against your fellow man without the threat of jail, plus you gain access to exclusive quests and the pirate hideout.
There are currently thousands of landlubbers jostling for space on the new servers, so now is the time to betray them all and become the most notorious threat on the high seas. For our money, it’s one of the best MMOs around.
Not counting Kinect titles, online pirate adventure Sea of Thieves was Rare’s first proper game in ten years, and boy did the team make the time count. While a little dull in single-player, get a small group together on a single ship and Sea of Thieves becomes one of the most enjoyable multiplayer games you can play right now. It’s also arguably the most pirate of the games on this list, because it’s all about shiploads of pirates, who do nothing but pirate things.
This is all about getting a crew of friends together, all doing your part onboard to sail across the seas, and searching for booty to plunder. You can get into tense, and hilarious, sea battles with other players, as well as skeleton crews, giant sharks, and the terrible Kraken. When you want to get back on dry land momentarily you can raid outposts filled with undead guardians and loot their treasure chests. Or just follow the adventurous story missions in your quest to become a Pirate Legend – and have every pirate on the Sea O’ Thieves gunning for you.
Sea of Thieves’ monthly content updates provide a steady trickle of new treasure for buccaneers. The latest update, Crews of Rage, introduces a new type of cursed chest called a Chest of Rage that slowly overheats and explodes into flame, unless you water it frequently to calm it down. The update also introduces a Pirate Appearance Potion, which allows you to choose a new appearance for your pirate. If you’ve got a group of friends who want to become pirates then Sea of Thieves is the best game to do it in.
Let’s stop trying to become a pirate for a sec. How about, instead, we try to manage a group of pirates? Or how about a pirate island, in fact? While the other games in the series focus on modern dictatorial regimes, Tropico 2 tasks you with creating a pirate utopia in the golden age of seafaring – your own personal Nassau or Tortuga to oversee.
Your goal is to keep all the pirates on your little plunderer’s paradise happy, while sending out ships to ‘collect’ gold – all while trying to keep the island secret from the eyes of the various Empires surrounding it. What marks Tropico 2 as brilliant is how it gradually steps up the challenge as you progress. You start off with simple pirates that just need a bit of grog and attention, but before long, more demanding, high-profile buccaneers start to show up. Pratty pirates soon become the least of your problems, though, as diplomatic relations with the local superpowers become more fraught.
It’s certainly one of the funnier, more tongue-in-cheek management games around – in fact, it almost plays like a Monkey Island strategy game. Better still, if you buy Tropico 2 these days you get the first Tropico and all its expansions for free.
Built on an upgraded version of the Mount & Blade: Warband engine, and borrowing a great deal of its mechanics, Blood and Gold is a fully-fledged pirate simulator, letting you live out every aspect of pirate life from gambling in sweaty taverns and duelling in the street with cutlasses, to starting up a shady trading company and spending all of your gold on cannons for your corvette. You can be a mercenary assassin, get captured and enslaved, fight your way out and take to the seas with a crew of fellow prisoners. Or you can feign nobility and marry a governor’s daughter, giving you resource and license to declare war against the Spanish.
Blood and Gold is like Sid Meier’s Pirates! on steroids, with far greater scope for adventure and more severe consequences to boot. Unfortunately, like so many ambitious games built from mods, you can expect quite a few bugs, glitches, and some lacklustre graphics in Blood and Gold: Caribbean!
You didn’t think piracy was exclusive to 16th century Caribbean sailors, did you? Rebel Galaxy is all about pirates… in… SPAAAAACE! You’re still in a ship undertaking journeys of high adventure, plundering other vessels after fine battles – you’re just on the edge of the universe rather than the seven seas.
Related: Here are the best space games on PC
In some ways, Rebel Galaxy could be considered a sci-fi Sea Dogs, as you can choose to follow the main quest or make your own way through the galaxy. You can be an honourable trader or miner, but more likely you’ll want to make your fortune as a bounty hunter, or as we like to say, proper space pirate. One thing’s for sure: you’ll get in a lot of space battles, so it’s good they’re a lot of fun. Use deflectors to dodge missiles, choose where to aim, watch for range – there’s a lot of strategy in these battles.
Apart from combat, there’s plenty to explore and do in this part of space. Outposts, distress calls, strange readings to investigate, all need attending to. Or you can just sit and watch the gorgeous galaxy go by. You’ve got a lot of freedom in Rebel Galaxy, just try not to get in too much trouble, ok?
Yarr, those be the finest pirate games on the fair ship PC. We hope ye enjoyed the bountiful booty we dug up for ye – only the best for our cap’n. So many vessels sunk, ports raided, chests stared at, and skeletons disassembled. If ye be likin’ the games on this list, here’s a map to the best PC games to play right now, or some co-op games to play with your pals. It’s not quite the same, but if you also live for a life at sea then you’d be a fool not to check out our roundup of the best submarine games on PC, too. Yarrrrrr…