Pirates of the Black Cove is a game in which the player takes the role of a pirate captain who wants to find an island with a buried treasure. The game can be divided into three distinctive parts: free roaming, land missions and sea fights.
While the player can explore the whole game world, the story is advanced by completing missions. Those mostly involve sailing to a certain point, fighting something or doing a land mission, but it tries to spice things up by varying the mission goals, e.g. fighting a giant octopus. Sea fights involve manoeuvring the ship into a good position and firing the cannon to sink the enemy. Land missions are similar to real-time tactics game: the player has a certain amount of units which are commanded indirectly. A click on an enemy involves in automatic attacks.
The free roaming sections include the possibility to find collectibles (for example pirate jokes) or find items to brew helpful potions. There are also role-playing elements because the main character receives level-ups which improve the special abilities (depending on which of three characters is chosen at the start of the game). Loot can be used to upgrade the ship.