Arr matey, ye be interested in the best pirate games on PC, do ye? 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.
Right, that’s enough of that, it’s starting to give me a headache. There’s nothing more liberating than being a pirate. No, not that kind of pirate – you’ll want to pay for most of these games to support the creators and get the best experience possible, but there are a few free PC games included below for that feeling of looting booty without the actual piracy. So, from insult sword-fighting to dodging krakens, let’s run our swords through the best PC games that incorporate swashbuckling piracy on this high seas. Just try not to spill your grog on the way, landlubber.
Here are the best pirate games on PC in 2023:
Seafight is a pirate-themed browser simulation game that sees you sailing the seven seas in both PvP and PvE maps. It’s been around for well over a decade, and during that time, developer Bigpoint has been enhancing and refining the experience to make it one of the best pirate games out there.
If you fancy coming up against sea monsters as you grind and gather resources, you can disembark onto the maps where you’ll only encounter the natural dangers of the ocean, but if you prefer playing against other humans, then you can have a lot of fun with the ship-to-ship combat. Though it might seem intimidating playing against the stronger opponents, you can join a guild and fight alongside seasoned players to give you more of a fair chance.
One Piece Odyssey
We can’t not include 2023’s first major pirate game in this list, as it’s one that stars the most famous anime pirate crew of all time. Join Monkey D. Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates on the adventure of a lifetime in One Piece Odyssey, as you embark on a brand-new story written with direct involvement from the manga’s creator himself, Eiichiro Oda.
Odyssey has something for old and new One Piece fans alike, and the gameplay is a mix of immersive JRPG games and the best turn-based strategy games. What really makes One Piece Odyssey stand apart from the competition – and the rest of the games on this list – though, is its Dramatic Scene system, perfectly adapting One Piece’s manga and anime background to interactive RPG gameplay. The Dramatic Scene system means your experience of Odyssey – and every future playthrough – is entirely unique, as you must adapt your combat to unique and random situations, as you should when truly roleplaying.
During battle, a Dramatic Scene could trigger randomly, signified on-screen if it does. This can change any number of things. A Straw Hat may be impacted by a status condition, such as intimidation, putting them out of battle. Perhaps an enemy has boosted health, or you might have to win the fight with Luffy himself dealing the final blow. These battles are optional, and you can run if you feel overwhelmed, but they add something special to this pirate game, and the rewards you earn for winning are worth it.
Return to Monkey Island
The 2022, um, return to the Monkey Island series was met with overwhelmingly positive reviews, as both veterans of the classic pirate games and debut seamen alike are able to pick up the new story, set many years after the crew’s last swashbuckling adventure. The point and click game combines simple gameplay, a riveting story, and tricky puzzles spread across both familiar and brand new locations such as Melee Island and Terror Island. Not only is Return to Monkey Island one of the best pirate games of 2022, it’s widely considered one of the best PC games of 2022 full stop.
So, even if you haven’t sailed into Monkey Island before, Return to Monkey Island may well be a hit with you, but since you’re here looking for pirate games, you may as well give all’ six games in the series a try – both Secret of Monkey Island and its sequel, LeChuck’s Revenge, are two of the highlights. We’ve got plenty of guides to help you on Monkey Island to, including a guide to all Monkey Island trivia cards and answers, and – this may sound weird until you need it – how to get a mop in Monkey Island.
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
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.
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. Yes, the graphics and the voice acting may have aged, but this is still a top competitor for 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.
Lego Pirates of the Caribbean
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.
Sid Meier’s Pirates!
The creator of Civilization and the team that went 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?
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
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 is intense in the spur of 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’?
Risen 3: Titan Lords
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.
Sea of Thieves
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, as we point out in our Sea of Thieves review, this pirate game becomes one of the most enjoyable multiplayer games once you get a small group together on a single ship. 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 and seasonal rotations provide a steady trickle of new treasure for buccaneers. The latest update, The Rogue’s Legacy, introduces a new adventure as part of season eight in which you must recover and safely deliver some rare artefacts. The Rogue in question is the legendary Captain Briggsy, and these precious items might help recover some of her stories from the deep.
Tropico 2 – Pirates Cove
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. Bratty 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.
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.
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, and strange readings to investigate need attending to. Or you can just sit and watch the gorgeous galaxy go by in one of the best space games on PC. You’ve got a lot of freedom in Rebel Galaxy, just try not to get in too much trouble, ok?
Don’t Starve: Shipwrecked
We’ve left this until last because it’s not technically a game in itself, and you will need the Don’t Starve base game to play this pirate-themed expansion. However, Don’t Starve itself is one of the best survival games out there on PC, and the Shipwrecked expansion provides enough new content for an entirely separate survival experience.
Just like the base Don’t Starve game, you play as Wilson, and Wilson needs to do what he can to survive. In Shipwrecked though, this means sailing the seas, plundering, pillaging, and scavenging for food and tools to keep you alive, all while meeting interesting new characters and creatures, from pirates themselves, to fishermen monkeys, and monstrous sea creatures.
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, but want a way to relax after dealing with battles and storms, here’s a map to the best relaxing 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. Yarrrrrr…