Microsoft has announced that Cursed Sails, the next update for Rare's swashbuckling sea-shanty adventure Sea of Thieves, will launch as a free download for all players on July 31.

One of the main features introduced here is the chance to square off against fearsome Skeleton Ships, plus get behind the wheel of a three-man Brigantine ship and team up with other plunderers to tackle greater challenges on the high seas.

All of the new content added in the update will be permanent, although to introduce them, Rare is launching a limited-time event -- the titular Cursed Sails -- that will see the Skeleton Ships rocking up at outposts and challenging pirates during a three-week campaign. 

In addition, this will be complemented by a narrative-driven event that sees players attempting to find the source of the undead harassers. 

Cursed Sails will be available free to PC and Xbox One owners of Sea of Thieves, including those who access the game via Xbox Game Pass.

Sea of Thieves launched in March, and while it didn't make us want to walk the plank immediately, it didn't really inspire us to plunder riches far and wide. 

Rare recently dropped a new event for the game, Sunken Curse, which tasks you with smashing up evil mermaid statues.

Carry on the conversation on the VideoGamer forums!