While aesthetically lovely, online swashbuckler Sea Of Thieves probably didn't have enough meat on its bones at launch. Today's update, Cursed Sails, is a bit paradoxical then - its roaming crews of evil skeleton sailors add a major new NPC threat to the oceans, just ironically without flesh. Adding a new time-limited quest, plus a goodly chunk of new things to see and do to the base game, and it's live right now and free for all you scurvy sea-dogs.
While part of the Cursed Sails update will be temporary - a new quest to track down the origin of the undead armada - the important parts are all permanent additions to the game. The undead will be sailing from this day forth, giving players a chance to engage in naval combat without having to feel bad about sinking an innocent 10-year-old's vessel and transforming the poor tyke into yet another howling monster on voice-chat. While Sea Of Thieves remains a primarily PvP-centric game, it's good to have some AI antagonists to cross swords with at last.
This being Sea Of Thieves, there's also a boatload of new cosmetic gubbins. Those who battle the undead can lay claim to their inimitable style, with skeletal versions of several standard items available, along with clothing and musical instruments. For players who have achieved Legendary status, you can also spook up your vessel with some ghost ship-themed decorations. The time-limited stuff does have its own special rewards, including a 'skeleton scar' (wonder what that looks like?), and skeleton ship-themed decorations and sails to be unlocked through battle.
Also included in Cursed Sails is the Brigantine ship, a smaller vessel to be crewed by three players, plus the option to form an official alliance between multiple crews, allowing two or more vessels to share gold and experience earned. Bit by bit, it feels like Sea Of Thieves is being fleshed out into the broad and exciting piratical sandbox that so many wished it was at launch. If developers Rare can keep up this pace, I can see it becoming a very special game indeed by this time next year.
The Windows 10-exclusive Sea Of Thieves is an admittedly-daunting £50/€70/$60 on the Microsoft store, but you can also snag it as part of the £8/€10/$10 Xbox Game Pass subscription, which includes some quite nice games on PC. I still reckon Halo Wars 2 is underrated.