Pirates! is a single-player game. The player does not in fact take on the role of a pirate at the start of the game, but rather that of a privateer, in the service of Spain, The Netherlands, England, or France (though his loyalties may change over the course of the game and he may turn to piracy at any time). Gameplay is open-ended; the player may choose to attack enemy ships or towns, hunt pirates, seek buried treasure, rescue long-lost family members, or even avoid violence altogether and seek to increase his wealth through trade. The game also has no pre-determined end, although as time goes on, it becomes more difficult to recruit men for your crew. The game ends when the player retires, at which point he is given a position in his future life, from beggar to King's Advisor, based on his wealth, land, rank, marital status, and other accomplishments.