My latest favorite is Windward. For years I played Sid Meier’s Pirates! and would just sail around plundering Spanish galleons with little care for the plot. That alone amused me far longer than it should have with simple controls for firing your cannons and sailing against and with the wind.
Flash forward some years and we have Windward. Immediately I was caught by the Steam sale advert video. The game looked beautiful and it is. Gameplay is simple, you sail to and from towns while trading goods or running Quests and you’ll loot floating crates and barrels that have one of the commodities: Gold, Stone, Wood and Gunpowder Each commodity has it’s use though you’ll amass far more than you’ll likely ever use. Combat is almost automatic, as you sale upon an enemy ship your cannons will fire and you have a selection of manual use abilities that feature some targeting.
The world is generated when you start the game, though your progress is saved to a character name you create. I’ve sailed in single player games and Internet games with 30+ players all with the same progress as I learn the ropes. It features some easy internet sharing, so I can create a game and have my friends join me. I can even redraw the map, supposing I don’t like what it generated, I can mold the map borders to my liking.
I find a lot to like in the design, it’s very peaceful and easy to play for 5 minutes or 5 hours. This is easily my favorite game this year!