So I've spent most of my gaming time lately playing Diablo III, like the rest of the Internet. Yes, it's fantastic. Yes, the online-only requirement is bullshit and a serious mistake. Yes, it's fantastic despite that. Yes, I'm still looking forward to Torchlight II a whole lot.
Oh, I'm also in the Torchlight II beta. I might talk about that soon.
But right now you need to know about Windward, a crazy and cool action game that loads in your browser and sucked up two hours today I really didn't expect it to take. Also, it's free. Everybody likes free.
RockPaperShotgun, as they are wont to do, did a fine write-up over here, but if you just want the short version it is that it's Sid Meier's Pirates! meets HOARD (which I also wrote up and liked a lot). You get a confined map of the ocean, with ports, lighthouses and guard towers ripe for the taking. You get a ship, and some teammates. You're put up against another team that wants to take the same stuff you do. You fight over it for about 10 minutes. Then you do it again.
It would get old fast (and still may get old, given enough time), but the combat mechanic of Pirates! is represented well here, with your slow moving ships playing a game of strategic positioning to try to point your cannons at your enemies without exposing yourself to their fire. A leveling mechanic and offensive/defensive skills with cooldowns add a bit of persistance and depth, though you can only save your ship across sessions if you choose to toss $10 at a pre-order of the final game (currently this is an alpha). Just the free game is plenty fun, though, and since it loads in your browser via Unity plugin, you've got nothing to lose but time.
Here's some gameplay footage.
I ponied up for the pre-order, myself. I love Pirates!, and I want to see where this is going. Look for me on the ocean, if you try it out. My boat, to nobody's surprise, is named "Serenity."