Released on Steam about a week ago, this game is beautiful! The UI for the ports is very basic, but the sailing and gunnery is downright awesome. It's still in early access, so understand that going in.
I've been playing since the Steam release, and I have to say that this is the AoS game I've been waiting for. You start as any one of a half dozen (plus) countries that had a presence in the Caribbean. The obvious: such as the British, French, and Spanish. Add the Americans, pirates, Dutch, Swedish, and Danes, and you have a lot of choices. There are PVE as well as PVP servers. Your first ship is an armed cutter, and you build up from there as you gain in rank. You can go all the way to a first rate if you so have the mind to do so – but be prepared to spend some serious time and effort getting there.
The map itself has ~260 ports, some belonging to a faction, some free. The trade and craft (including shipbuilding) option is a very viable way to play. Just be aware that if you are on a PVP server, your trader ship is fair game from anyone not of your nationality.
The game really shines in the sea battles. Multiple gun choices, attitude to the wind, sail settings – both manual and automatic, ship roll with the waves, it has everything. Sprung a leak? Better set your crew to the pumps. Need to reload faster? Select gunnery. Chasing down a fast merchant? Get those bow chasers firing chain!
I tell you, I am hooked.