• Age of Discovery games offer rich historical inspiration, often falling into the strategy genre for a reason.
  • Age of Pirates: Caribbean Tales offers a fun, romantic pirate adventure with real-time naval combat in a vibrant game world.
  • Port Royale 3: Pirates & Merchants stands out for its unique dual play styles as a sandbox empire trading simulator or combat-oriented game.

The Age of Discovery offers game designers a rich source of inspiration. With its connotations of sailing ships, budding trade empires, rapidly changing borders, and political wrangling, it simply cries out to be the basis of a game. Most of the games set in the Age of Discovery, unsurprisingly, fall into the strategy genre because of this.


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There are some great games, including some classic older ones that exploit this era of human history to the fullest. Some of them focus entirely on the Age of Discovery. Others use this era as a logical jump-off point for beginning gameplay that then progresses through later ages.

7 Age of Pirates: Caribbean Tales

Play A Pirate And Become A Menace Of The High Seas

Age of Pirates Caribbean Tales Age Of Discovery Game

  • Platforms: Microsoft Windows
  • Released: 2006
  • Developer: Akella
  • Genre: Action-adventure game

There are plenty of excellent pirate games available, but some of them stand head and shoulders above the others for one reason or another. Age of Pirates: Caribbean Tales is one such game. Released back in 2006, it is a fun, romantic romp through a vibrant game world, with some of the first real-time naval combat ever seen in a game.


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The player can choose to play one of two siblings, Blaze Shark or Beatrice Shark. They then set off across a large map full of Caribbean islands, to wreak havoc on commercial shipping. Something this game did very well, was the real-time sailing. There was no instant or quick travel, and the player must captain their ship through good weather and bad.

When not aboard their ship, the player can engage in actions such as duels, board enemy vessels, and trade for supplies. Age of Pirates: Caribbean Tales harks back to an older time, when games were made to be fun, rather than serious. It earns a place on this list for the smile factor alone.

6 Port Royale 3: Pirates & Merchants

Two Paths One Choice

Port Royale 3 Pirates & Merchants Age Of Discovery Game

  • Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, macOS
  • Released: 2012
  • Developer: Gaming Minds Studios, Kalypso Media
  • Genre: Strategy game

This is the third installment in the Port Royale franchise, and a game that really moved things forward. It was the first Port Royale game to move towards a fully sandbox style of gameplay. Although the player can choose from one of two paths, merchant or adventurer to complete the storyline, they don’t have to.


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What makes Port Royale 3: Pirates & Merchants pretty unique, is that it features two play styles in one game. If the player decides to follow the path of the merchant, the game becomes much more like an empire trading simulator. If the player chooses the path of the adventurer instead, the game becomes much more combat-orientated. Overall, a great addition to the franchise and well worth a spot on this list.

5 Age of Empires III

Real-Time Strategy Empire Builder

Age of Empires III Age Of Discovery Game

Age of Empires 3

October 18, 2005


This game doesn’t strictly take place solely within the Age of Discovery. Instead, it begins in this age, and the player will progress through several other ages, once the Age of Discovery is completed. This includes the Colonial Age, Fortress Age, Industrial Age, and the Imperial Age. Each with its own set of technologies, structures, and units.

The player can choose to support one of 8 different civilizations, with the goal of expanding their empire’s influence and prosperity. There is a story arc included in the game, although this is optional. Age of Empires III gets a place on this list for being one of, if not the best game in the Age of Empires franchise so far.

4 Anno 1701

Classic City Builder Set In The Age Of Discovery

Anno 1701 Age Of Discovery Game

  • Platforms: Microsoft Windows
  • Released: 2006
  • Developer: Sunflowers Interactive Entertainment Software, Related Designs
  • Genre: Turn-based strategy

As with all of the other games in the Anno franchise, Anno 1701 focuses on the micromanagement of resources, research, and other factors. The game has two play modes. Firstly, the open-ended mode, with the player free to carry on expanding their empire indefinitely. Secondly, scenario mode, which includes 10 different scenarios, each with its own challenges to overcome.

Few games have managed to meld city-building mechanics with grand strategy aspects as well as Anno 1701 does. It deserves a place on this list because of this, but not exclusively so. It is simply a polished game experience that will keep fans of the genre happy for hundreds of hours.

3 Sid Meier’s Colonization

Helping To Define The Genre

Sid Meier's Colonization Age Of Discovery Game

  • Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Linux, macOS, Amiga OS, DOS
  • Released: 1994
  • Developer: Microprose
  • Genre: Turn-based strategy

There is a reason why the name Sid Meier is attached to so many game titles. This is a man who almost single-handedly laid down many of the standard gameplay features of strategy games. Sid Meier’s Colonization was one of his earlier games, and it set the stage for modern empire-building and grand strategy games.


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The game sits squarely between the original Civilization game, and Civilization 2 in gameplay features. It improves on the gameplay of Civilization but adds a twist as well. The player begins with a fairly well-established nation, instead of starting from nothing. For fans of the strategy genre, Sid Meier’s Colonization gives an interesting insight into how these games evolved.

2 Civilization IV: Colonization

A Remake Of Sid Meier’s Colonization

Civilization IV Colonization Age Of Discovery Game

  • Platforms: Microsoft Windows, macOS
  • Released: 2005
  • Developer: Firaxis Games
  • Genre: Turn-based strategy

This game was a reimagining of the aforementioned game, Sid Meier’s Colonization. This wasn’t a simple “remastered” edition, updating the graphics and releasing it for a quick cash grab, the game was completely rebuilt from the ground up. It was redeveloped to slot into the growing Civilization franchise, changing the gameplay but keeping the flavor of the original.

Civilization IV: Colonization takes 2nd place on this list for being an improved version of what was already a fantastic game in its own right. As with the original offering, the player begins with a somewhat established colony, and aims to try and increase its presence. Part city builder, part resource management, and part trading simulator, Civilization IV: Colonization is a deep game, that marks the evolution of the Civilization franchise into the format of the more modern titles.

1 Empire: Total War

Empire Total War Age Of Discovery Game

Empire: Total War

March 3, 2009

Strategy , Tactical

The 5th game in the Total War franchise, Empire: Total War takes full advantage of the rich backdrop of the Age of Discovery. However, it must be said that the game does progress into the following ages during a playthrough. The game was praised for its historical accuracy and the depth of strategic gameplay options on release.

Empire: Total War takes its place at the top of this list for adding something extra to the Total War franchise, in the form of real-time naval battles. By the time this game was released, many of the staples of Total War gameplay had been refined over several iterations. The campaign game mode is a good example of this, as it is more far-reaching than in previous Total War games, and offers a considerable challenge to strategy game fans, even today.


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