Ultima VII was the greatest game where I never really knew what the hell was going on around me.
My history with Ultima games was Ultima III on the Nintendo (didn’t get very far), Ultima VII on PC (Nearly beat it), then the Ultima Underworld series (played to multiple completions with different types of characters).
Ultima VII immediately drew me in with its story, and compelling visuals. I was fascinated to find myself immediately plunged into a murder mystery instead of being sent off to a dungeon to kill rat monsters. The characters were interesting, and reacted in very human ways to my actions.
Then, at some point, I got into a fight. I had no idea what was happening. I didn’t know if I was winning or losing. I wasn’t sure if my master archer companion was actually doing more damage than the little kid with the sling, or how any of them compared to my first level sword swinging. The real time combat was jerky and confusing. I occasionally wasn’t sure if my companions had just started crap with a nearby creature, or if the creature was actually hostile to begin with.
Against wisps, I just stared at the screen and hoped for the best while things blinked and exploded.
I kept getting my characters trained when possible. I never knew when they were qualified for more training. I didn’t know the effect of the training. I often had no idea what weapon was best for them (eventually the kid had a triple crossbow, but I never knew if he was actually proficient or using it well…).
By the end of the game, I had a small army following me around. The problem with a small army is that you have to feed them. So, I would open my “backpack,” which is the HORRIBLE inventory system, and have piles of meat and cheese stacked over my keys, quest items, spare weapons, magic potions, etc. While we were successfully killing things, I felt like I was going to run out of resources to feed my guys and craft new spells. So, I ended up turning to guides to step me through the remaining quests.
That made the game feel like a job. I think I glitched just outside the final dungeon, then walked away.
For me this seems to be a problem with many older RPGs. They require a lot of investment into discovery of the correct way of playing the game. Also, I find them often quite unforgiving when it comes to character creation.
How is Ultima VII when it comes to description of spells and weapons? Are they in game accessible or is it guess work like in Ishars and Realms of Arkania?