I mean having never owned a boat I realize that this is a flawed point to make, but when I'm sailing in that game I feel like it's a pretty chill experience. There can be nothing going on around me at all and I'm just kicking back, enjoying the view, blasting some Run-DMC in my system music player (haven't gotten shanties yet). I would play this game just to take my ship out on the weekend.
It's basically the fantasy of what owning a boat would be like before you buy one and discover the nightmare that is owning a boat
This seems accurate. I was actually thinking today that one of the reasons "pirates" works as a thematic wrapper for Assassin's Creed so well is that we associate them with empowerment and freedom, and that's the same thing we get from open-world action games. The ship stuff seems like a pretty good encapsulation of this.