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Top 10 Best Pirate Games, Ranked from Scurvy to Swashbuckling

We all have that desire to sail the seas.

The Pirate genre has been a beloved theme for a long time; many daydream about captaining their ship on the high seas, answering to no one, and grasping the definition of freedom. The golden age of piracy is long since dead in the real world, but video games are not bound by this rule. With so much potential for narratives and experiences to be forged, is there any wonder why it is so popular? So here we have compiled the top 10 best pirate games.

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10. LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean

LEGO Pirate of the Caribbean Jack Sparrow
Image Credit: TT Games

The single largest piece of Pirate media, Pirates of the Caribbean has birthed generations of buccanneer-lovers. Everyone knows the story of Jack Sparrow and the Black Pearl, and it’s that story that bolsters the wide desire to captain their own ship.

Is there any surprise that LEGO staked its claim on this franchise? LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean is a faithful retelling of the first four movies in the usual formula. Expect lots of charming jokes in this action-adventure, but there is the downside of no voice acting in this entry. However, it really does increase the game’s charm when you see Jack Sparrow miming the jokes rather than a voice actor that is unable to recreate Johnny Depp’s gusto. Be ready to collect everything and anything in order to 100% this LEGO title.

9. Return to Monkey Island

Return to monkey island Guybrush Threepwood in the town center
Image Credit: Terrible Toybox

Return to Monkey Island is the continuation of the classic point-and-click adventure games like the Broken Sword franchise. Developed by Terrible Toybox and released in 2022, you are placed in control of Guybrush Threepwood once again as you swashbuckle your way to Monkey Island.

If you’re someone who has yet to visit Monkey Island, do not miss out on this gem as there is so much charm to find. Filled to the brim with interesting characters and challenging but rewarding puzzles that make you think outside the box, you’ll fall in love with this charming game and will find yourself playing through the originals in no time. Secrets of Monkey Island and Lechunk’s Revenge are fantastic experiences that all fit the pirate theme. Long-time fans will instead find themselves conversing with old faces and new rivals, solving the most bizarre puzzles, and sailing the high seas.

8. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

Legend of Zelda Wind Waker, Sailing the seas
Image Credit: Nintendo

How did a Legend of Zelda game make it onto a pirate tier list?! Well, Wind Waker is an experience that allows you to travel an open world and sail the seas.

There’s much less pirating going on as you may have guessed, it is Zelda after all. But do not let that dissuade you from the heartwarming experience of this game. The Link that we know and love is sent on his adventure in an unusual way — his little sister is taken and he must put on his best Liam Neeson impression and get her back! To do this he’ll have to sail the seas on the back of The King of Red Lions, a talking boat that guides him on his journey.

A great ocean separates the land masses scattered across the map and for its time was way ahead of the curve, since this GameCube release had a seamless open world to explore. Visit islands and solve puzzles, uncover the mysteries of the ocean, and ultimately wield the Master Sword to vanquish evil! The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is my personal favorite LoZ game and it brings me joy to be able to shamelessly recommend the experience.

7. One Piece Odyssey

One Piece Odyssey Strawhat crew with Luffy
Image Credit: ILCA

One of the Big 3 is finally done justice in video game form with the direct involvement of Oda himself. Now you know that One Piece Odyssey will remain true to its source material.

A classic turn-based RPG is a surprising design choice for One Piece’s action-packed world, but somehow Odyssey makes it work. Join Monkey D. Luffy and the Strawhats as you traverse the original story that Oda tailored for fans. Those looking for an in-depth JRPG with the pirate theme of the One Piece tale will be disappointed with the simple combat system. We rank this entry lower due to its dedication to long-time fans, not a strictly bad thing, but requires players to watch almost 750 episodes of the anime. While this game is a wonderful One Piece adaptation with its own unique story, it may miss the mark with those either not into the anime or have yet to try it.

As expected of a JRPG there is a heavy emphasis on narrative, grinding out exp from monsters, and exploring the world, but as stated above the combat system leaves you wanting more. A generic rock, paper, scissors mechanic is at play and has a very trivial difficulty level. It’s a shame that more time wasn’t put into the combat system as the animation, skills, and signature moves are all incredible. Still, for fans, it’s worth a try.

6. Tropico 2: Pirate Cove

Tropic 2 Pirate Cove, management sim
Image Credit: Frog City Software

Tropico 2: Pirate Cove is a management sim but uniquely in the pirate theme. You are the new pirate king and must manage your kingdom of rowdy ruffians.

You aren’t the pirate in Tropico 2, instead you’re managing them as you build your own Tortuga paradise. As with usual management sims, its your job to keep your island afloat as you command the pirate leaders to plunder, pillage and loot gold. But be careful not to draw the ire of surrounding Empires and their galleons. The difficulty ramp starts you with drunk pirates needing nothing but bananas and grog, but soon you’ll be managing ambitious swashbucklers. Soon after you are tossed into the politics of the region and must manage nation relationships.

Tropico 2: Pirate Cove is a fun experience for all, but management sim fans will find a kindred spirit in this game.

5. Risen 2: Dark Waters

Risen 2 Dark Waters, standoff between pirates

Image Credit: Piranha Bytes

Risen 2: Dark Waters is the second game in the trilogy and grabs this spot over its predecessor and sequel due to its critical acclaim from players. This open-world pirate-themed RPG developed by Piranha Bytes is a must-play for role-playing fans.

As a member of the Inquisition, it is your job to step out into the world and discover a way to stop the chaotic sea creatures hiding in the deep blue. Pirates are center stage in Risen 2 as you’re immediately told to seek out a group of pirates rumored to have the knowledge you need. Expect to make some hard decisions as you shape the world and the politics around you in this dark and gritty universe. Considering its release in 2012, the graphics aren’t as polished as one may expect from games in that era, but the gameplay and living world truly shine.

Anyone looking for a pirate adventure with a darker tone will find a good recommendation in Risen 2: Dark Waters.

4. Sid Meier’s Pirates!

Sid Meiers Pirates Swashbuckling
Image Credit: Firaxis Games

Sid Meier’s Pirates! was developed by the folks at Firaxis and the guys who went on to make XCOM. It may come as a surprise that these two giants created a pirate-themed game but here it is!

Technically, Sid Meier’s Pirates! is a remake of a game Sid Meier created in 1987 so expect a real level of love and care to have gone into this open-world strategy adventure experience. You begin as a lowly cabin boy who quickly finds themselves as a Captain with their ship and crew. Sail the seas, board pirate ships, raid villages, and even woo fair maidens on your journey to become the greatest booty hunter the world has ever seen.

The world is not safe from your meddling as you’re even able to influence the political landscape of the Caribbean. This is a true addictive RPG that lets you live your pirate life however you choose. The sheer freedom handed to the player is something games to this day fail to achieve.

3. Sea of Thieves

Sea of Thieves armada, multiplayer
Image Credit: Rare Limted

I have logged uncountable hours on Sea of Thieves both solo and with a ship full of friends. Sometimes we are treasure hunters and merchants, other times we smell blood in the water and become true pirates. The ocean is the limit in SoT and with Rare continuously dropping more content there is always something to do.

Sea of Thieves puts a cartoon-like twist on the pirate adventure, where the only humans you meet are friendly NPCs or other dubious players plotting to steal your cargo. Enemies are presented in two general forms, wildlife such as snakes and boars, or undead skeletons looking to send you to the grave.

Whether solo or with friends, Sea of Thieves is a true pirating experience that you cannot rob yourself of trying. You are expected to perform certain tasks as you sail the seas. Weigh the anchor, adjust the sails, steer the ship, or look for land in the crow’s nest. There are so many odd jobs to complete! You and your crew must work together at all time, even to combat the waves and skeleton-controlled ships. Other than fighting other players in PVP or hunting for treasure, there are objectives everywhere to complete. From the Skeleton Strongholds to the small story-driven adventures that are filled with puzzles and challenges, you will find something to do in this ocean of blue.

2. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

Assassins Creed Black Flag Edward Kenway
Image Credit: Ubisoft

Is there any surprise that Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag makes it to our 2nd spot? It may be more surprising to see it receive the silver medal rather than the gold as many fans regard this game as the pinnacle of a pirate game.

I agree that AC: Black Flag was a masterful experience, sailing the seas with your crew singing all manner of shanties and upgrading your ship. There were a few reasons it was held back slightly. It’s a personal gripe with the game that while the ship exploration, combat, and everything else pirate was amazing… I often had to leave my ship behind to pursue the usual Assassin’s Creed MacGuffin. I adored meeting Blackbeard and the other characters but far too often was I forced to deal with Templars when all I wanted was more pirate adventures. For this sole reason AC: Black Flag finds itself at 2nd best, nothing to turn your nose up at.

Getting into scuffles with Man-o-Wars and enemy galleons was the most fun I’ve had in an Assassin’s Creed game. Not only is the seamless ship-to-ship combat incredible, but you’re also able to board the enemy ship like good old pirates, dashing across the poop deck to dispatch the captain and capture the vessel. There was some special magic at work in AC: Black Flag that Ubisoft has struggled to recreate in its more recent titles. The standard Assassin’s Creed formula is here so fans of AC will love Black Flag, and those who want a pirate experience will find a fantastic game here, too.

1. Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire

Pillars of Eternity, Sailing the sea
Image Credit: Obsidian Entertainment

Our top spot may come as a surprise, but Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire is the perfect pirate experience.

Deadfire is the sequel to the less-than-piratey Pillars of Eternity. A CRPG similar to Baldur’s Gate and Divinity: Original Sin, the story revolves around you pursuing a rogue God across land and sea. You’re placed as the captain of your very own ship and must embark on the voyage with your companions. There is a story-driven narrative at play but make no mistake you can still plunder the seas like a true pirate, even embarking on quests to determine the tense relationships between the council of pirates. Become who you want to while sailing the seas and listening to some of the best original sea shanties.

Your very own ship is not just a tool to travel, it’s your stronghold! Upgrade your ship, manage your crew, and determine their skills as you adventure through the seas. Your companions travel beside you, each with a deep lore and personality. You may customize their classes to fit your playstyle as you conquer all types of enemies on the sea. Pillars 2 is at the top of our list due to its incredible polish, depth, and gameplay. Do yourself a favor and give this gem a try.

There we have it! That was our top 10 best pirate games, ranked. It was hard to find a solid 10 without making some concessions, but if I missed your favorite then drop a comment below.

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Tyler Towers
Tyler is a skilled Freelance Writer for Twinfinite, specializing in the most popular FPS games like Call of Duty, Apex Legends, and Valorant. He is also keenly interested in MOBAs and JRPGs, no matter how obscure they may be. With his Game Design degree from Sheffield Hallam University, Tyler has the expertise and knowledge to provide in-depth gaming industry coverage. When he is not knee-deep in ELO hell, he devotes his time to taking care of his beloved ragdoll cat, Ace.