They generally lurk in asteroid fields and wait for their prey, usually attacking freighters or mining ships, but they can often be seen in dogfights with station security forces. The danger level on the System Map (Secure, Average, Risky or Dangerous) refers to the likelihood of the player encountering Pirates.Pirates are disliked by all, yet it's socially acceptable to state one's wish to become a pirate to strangers in public (the Space Lounge).
Pirates establish their own stations, referred to as a Pirate Outpost, to use for their own purposes. These stations have a militaristic design with an olive green and brown color scheme. All pirate outposts are built the same way.
Pirate ships tend to look less polished and bulkier than all other types of ships as they are mostly put together from parts from ships of different factions. Pirate ships are all about functionality as opposed to their appearance. They tend to have more weapon capacity than other ships as well. Like their stations, pirate ships are very militaristic and come in olive green and brown.
Not much is known about the pirates' history. It is believed that pirates existed when space flight was possible, and made a living by looting other ships. A Vossk commander once conspired with a Terran officer and the Pirates.
- Pirates always use Gram Blasters as their weapons in HD, and Nirai Impulses EX 1 in SD. Pirates are the only NPCs to use this weapon in HD, thus it is very easy to identify them. Interestingly, the firing rate of their weapons is much lower than usual.
- The majority of pirates are Terran. However, sometimes people of all species can be seen at space lounges claiming that they want to become pirates, and the Hijacker in the campaign mission where you save Thomas Boyle which was held captive by pirates is a Nivelian.
- In GOF2, pirates only control the Midorian system of Loma and demand a fee of 2% (or 5% in Android version) of the price of your cargo to let you travel freely through their system. However, in GOF1 the whole Baltone Quadrant of the galaxy was under pirates' control.
- The name "pirates" is inherited from ancient Terran history.
- Pirates' space stations are almost always located near Nivelian stations with the exception of Shima (4 pirate outposts, Midorian origin). This is likely because the Mido Confederation is a relatively young faction meaning that they have yet to sort out a proper infrastructure to control the levels of pirates.
- Pirates in GOF1 wore a heavy red armor while in GOF2 they still wore some kind of red uniform but no longer wear face-covering helmets.
- Pirates in GOF1 look like cyborgs with their helmets.
- In GOF1, the Phantom is the only ship in use by the pirates.
- In GOF2, Pirate vessels seem to be based on Vietnam War-era aircraft, the most apparent with this similarity is the Mantis.
- Pirate Outposts (GoF2), Void Mothership and the Valkyrie Station (after completing the Valkyrie DLC) are the only stations that you cannot dock at.
- In GOF2, when the language is switched to Chinese, some pirates appearing in cutscenes are renamed "Foolish Pirate" (愚蠢的太空盗) for no apparent reason. For example: the second pirate in the opening cutscene.