Windward is not a survival game in early access. It's not a shooter. It's not a roguelike. Really, it's not much like the typical games you always see tearing up the Steam charts at all -- and thank kraken for that!
Instead, Windward is a top-down sailing game with a procedurally generated world. You can do stuff like fight pirates, trade, and explore. The way the game handles all of those mechanics sounds really cool:
As you sail about you will find resources you can make use of, upgrades for your ship, new towns that will ask your assistance, and as you get farther out from the starting area -- various pirates that will attempt to take what's rightfully yours. Combat experience will let you unlock new talents and abilities to make that particular line of work easier.
As you take up consignments with towns and fulfil their production shortages, the towns will grow, offering more quests, more resources and better items. As the towns continue to grow they will offer you a choice to upgrade your ship itself. Would you prefer a fast Schooner to explore the world, or a heavy Galleon that's able to take up 5 consignments at once? Or perhaps a massive Ship of the Line to take the fight with the pirates to their heartlands?
As you explore the world and get farther away from your starting area, the game will become progressively more difficult -- but so will the rewards. Throughout all of this you can expect the pirates to put up a fair fight, as the AI is bound by the same rules as the player: they have sight, and must explore the map before they can know what's there.
Speaking of AI, build a fearsome reputation and the AI will respect you, even fear you -- avoiding you if at all possible. Some friendly AI will even choose to follow you and assist you in your own adventures.
I can get down with all of that -- it sounds like a good palette cleanser, or something that fans of Sid Meier's Pirates! would enjoy.