11 best pirate games to play in 2023: Assassin's Creed Black Flag, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire & more

11 best pirate games to play in 2023: Assassin's Creed Black Flag, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire & more
Image via Ubisoft

Written by 

Morgan Truder


18th Sep 2023 09:57


If you're looking for a list of the best pirate games to play in 2023, we have you covered. Pirate games, despite just how much enjoyment you can gain from them, are few and far between. Ubisoft has been threatening to release Skull & Bones forever, and outside of that, it has been a very long time since we have received a genuinely great pirate game.

There is so much potential with pirate games, too. With games becoming much more about exploration and crafting your own journey, few settings lend themselves to this gameplay style as well as exploring the high seas as a pirate.

Although there hasn’t been an abundance of pirate games, there are still enough for you to try. What’s most interesting is they are all quite different, despite their similarities.

Keep reading for a full list of best pirate games to play in 2023.

Best pirate games to play in 2023

We’ve outlined all the best pirate games for you below, so be sure to check them out in case there are a few games you’re yet to try. 

Also included are what platforms the games are being included on, as well as which studio developed and published the game.

11. No Man’s Sky 

A Leviathan in No Man's Sky
Click to enlarge

  • Release date: 2016
  • Developer: Hello Games 
  • Publisher: Hello Games
  • Platforms: PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC, Nintendo Switch 

I know what you’re thinking - No Man’s Sky is a space game, not a pirate game. However, one of the most important things about being a pirate is going on the rob - which is something you can do in No Man's Sky. There are also hostile pirates in the world that you’re going to need to watch out for.

If you want to explore space, steal from a space fleet or cargo freighter, or live your life as a space pirate, then fewer games can deliver on that dream as well as No Man’s Sky. You may not be embarking on the ocean, but if we’re being honest, space is just as good - if not better. 

10. One Piece Odyssey 

Straw Hat pirates ship flying in one piece Odyssey
Click to enlarge
Image via Bandai Namco

  • Release date: 2023
  • Developer: ILCA
  • Publisher: Bandai Namco 
  • Platforms: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, PC

One Piece Odyssey is a RPG inspired by the incredibly popular, and long-running, manga and anime series that’s now 25 years old. One Piece is the ultimate anime about pirates, so a game inspired by it is a shoo-in for a list of the best pirate games. 

You play as Luffy and his Straw Hat Pirates, who embark on an adventure after they’re shipwrecked. You’re going to need to reunite them and get them back on the high seas. If you want a pirate adventure, look no further than One Piece Odyssey - especially if you're a fan of anime, this is certainly a must-play. 

  • If you’re looking for some fantasy adventures, be sure to check out our list of the best games like Skyrim

9. LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean 

Two LEGO characters fighting with swords in LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean
Click to enlarge
Image via Disney

  • Release date: 2011
  • Developer: TT Fusion | Traveller’s Tales
  • Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
  • Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, PC 

This is the second licensed game on the list and is also one of the most family-friendly pirate games around. LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean includes everything we have come to expect from LEGO games, as it follows the first four films with a huge plethora of playable characters to choose from. 

What will help LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean stand out on this list is the split-screen co-op. This means you can play the game with a pal, your children, or anyone who's sat next to you. Also, because this game is licensed, the score is delivered by Hans Zimmer with some of the most memorable music tracks in modern media. 

8. Return of the Obra Dinn 

Hand holding a compass in Return of the Obra Dinn
Click to enlarge
Image via 3909

  • Release date: 2018
  • Developer: Lucas Pope
  • Publisher: 3909
  • Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch

In the introduction, we spoke about pirate games needing exploration, freedom and a sense of adventure. Return of the Obra Dinn has all of these, but in a slightly different way. You won’t be exploring the ocean, but instead a singular ship, searching for clues that allude to where The Obra Dinn disappeared to, how it has returned, and what happened to everyone on board who is missing. 

Few games, on this list or in general, look the way Return of the Obra Dinn does, and the mystery at the heart of the game is gripping. The more you progress, the more questions are answered, and the more questions you need to ask as the story unravels before you. If you love detective games in unique settings and haven’t played Return of the Obra Dinn, it’s time to correct that. 

7. Starfield

A ship on a planet in Starfield
Click to enlarge

  • Release date: 2023
  • Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
  • Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
  • Platforms: Xbox Series X|S, PC 

The latest RPG from Bethesda is the newest game you will find on this list and another pirate game that has swapped out the Seven Seas for the mysterious unknowns of space. Whilst you're exploring the world of Starfield, you will come across the Crimson Fleet - a faction of pirates.

You can get involved with the Crimson Fleet, if you so fancy, which will encourage plenty of robbing and piracy in the stars. Starfield is certainly one of the best pirate games of recent years - even if it has a less traditional setting.

6. Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire 

Pirates fighting on a ship on the cover of Pillars of Eternity 2, one of the best pirate games
Click to enlarge
Image via Obsidian Entertainment

  • Release date: 2018
  • Developer: Obsidian Entertainment 
  • Publisher: Versus Evil, Obsidian Entertainment
  • Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC 

In the second Pillars of Eternity, you will be chasing a god across all kinds of terrain, including the ocean. On your journey, you will captain your ship, choosing companions to join you on your adventure, as you embark on a deep and rich role-playing game (RPG). If you dream about having the best ship on the ocean, then Pillars of Eternity is for you, as you upgrade both your ship and crew in a bid to survive. 

Pillars of Eternity 2 is heavily inspired by Dungeons & Dragons, so there is a massive emphasis on choice, customisation and exploration. Things that every pirate game needs, so if deep RPGs are your thing, it may be time to explore the region of Deadfire. 

  • If you're looking for something a little less frantic, be sure to check out our list for some of the best cosy games

5. Sid Meier’s Pirates! 

The Sid Meier's Pirates! cover art
Click to enlarge
Image via 2K

  • Release date: 2004
  • Developer: Firaxis
  • Publisher: 2K
  • Platforms: PC

Sid Meier’s Pirates! Is the oldest game we have included, and it is an absolute classic - a must-play for anyone who loves pirates. Up until recently, there was an argument to be made that it was the best pirate game around. It delivers everything you want from a pirate game, and fully captures the swashbuckling sense of adventure, with vast oceans to explore on your ship. 

You can hunt treasure, get into battles with other ships, explore, pillage, and so much more. Even though the game is now nearly 20 years old, there is still plenty on offer here, and if any game on this list deserves a modern remake, this is the one - especially when you consider how scarce great pirate games are. 

4. Return to Monkey Island 

Return to monkey Island cover
Click to enlarge
Image via Devolver Digital

  • Release date: 2022
  • Developer: Terrible Toybox
  • Publisher: Devolver Digital 
  • Platforms: PS5, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, PC

A point-and-click puzzler also may not be what you expect from a pirate game, but few games capture the essence and atmosphere we have come to expect of pirates, as well as Return to Monkey Island. Realistically, this entry should be seen more as an entry for the Monkey Island series, but the return of the series should be celebrated. 

During your adventure, you will encounter plenty of different characters, all of which have something to offer and are memorable. As you explore the island, you’ll encounter plenty of different puzzles to try and resolve as you uncover the mysteries of the island. 

3. Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew

The ship in Shadow Gambit the Cursed Crew, one of the best pirate games in 2023
Click to enlarge

  • Release date: 2023
  • Developer: Minimal Games GmbH
  • Publisher: Minimal Games
  • Platforms: PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PC

It felt like we went a long time without a noteworthy pirate game, and despite threatening to be released, Skull & Bones still hasn't arrived. Yet, for pirate fans, that doesn't matter because 2023 saw the release of Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew.

Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew is focused on stealth tactics, seeing you take control of a motley crew as they embark on missions across the high seas. Your crew will include plenty of interesting characters, all with their supernatural abilities, whilst also giving them all a home on the Red Marley. Shadow Gambit is one of the sleeper hits of 2023, and could very much be considered the best pirate game in quite some time.

2. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag 

Edward Kenway in Assassin's Creed Black Flag
Click to enlarge
Image via Ubisoft

  • Release date: 2013
  • Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
  • Publisher: Ubisoft
  • Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC 

Even today, 10 years later, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is considered one of the best Assassin’s Creed games, as well as one of the best pirate games around. You explore the Caribbean uncovering the story of the game's protagonist Edward Kenway, who finds himself wrapped up in the Assassin’s Creed’s drama. 

You can take control of your ship, which has full naval combat and allows you to raid other ships as they pass by, with your dual cutlasses and flintlock pistols. As is expected from Assassin’s Creed, real historical figures also feature here, so prepare to do battle alongside Blackbeard on your journey to becoming both the best pirate around - as well as a Master Assassin. 

What is the best pirate game to play in 2023?

1. Sea of Thieves

Sea of Thieves ships  sailing in a fleet
Click to enlarge
Image via Microsoft Studios

  • Release date: 2018
  • Developer: Rare
  • Publisher: Microsoft Studios 
  • Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC

In the last five years since Sea of Thieves was released, no other game has managed to capture the freedom and experience delivered by Rare. You play as a pirate, alongside your friend or solo, and explore the open seas where you will encounter other players doing the same as you. Here is where the choice arrives of letting them pass in peace, or going full pirate and sinking their ship. 

You can choose the size of your ship, customise your character, and even get pets as you set sail looking for treasure. Sea of Thieves is a game that thieves play with others, but there is plenty to sink your teeth into if you’re going alone. There are still fresh expansions still being released today, too. Right now, Sea of Thieves is the ultimate pirate experience excluding buying a big boat and being a pirate for real. 

These are all of the best pirate games around, ranging in how they approach this little sub-genre. However, all have immense quality in their own right.

If you're itching for more pirate games, be sure to take a look at everything we know so far about Skull & Bones arriving soon and if you're more into space, check out our best games like Starfield

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