Ultima Series

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  • Raptor85

    A little shocked I don’t see any of these up here yet, some of my absolute favorite RPG’s of all time, plus they essentially defined a lot of the features that later RPG’s used.


    I still have UW: Stygian Abyss in my dosbox folder. It runs well in it, though the rendered graphics screen in the UI is hilariously small by today’s standards. I liked this game and managed to finish it with some walkthrough help.

    I never played any of the other iterations. Is there one that stands out as the ultimate Ultima game? I might have to try more of them. The Coles said in the interview episode that Hero Quest/Quest for Glory was a “response” in part to the ultima series, so there must be something here that is worth a podcast.


    The interesting thing is pretty much every single Ultima title was just mindblowing when it came out. There’s also “kinda” three series as the gameplay is far different, there’s other games in the “Ultima” series that come later but I’ll stick to the Dos ones here.

    The “Ultima Underworld” games are 3d dungeon crawlers, the original System Shock actually uses the UUW 1 engine. Both are amazing, I like the large dungeon in UUW 1 a little better, but 2 improved gameplay and getting to fully explore brittania castle in 3d was cool as hell. If I was forced to pick only one though id pick UUW 1

    For the “Mainline” Ultima series, it’s kinda broken into trilogies, 1-3 are the “stranger”‘s first journey’s into sorsaria, they’re a little older and haven’t aged as well as later games but still fun. 4 is probably the most iconic game in the series, Quest of the Avatar, I really can’t praise this game enough, gameplay-wise it’s still aged a bit though, 5 and 6 are good but not nearly as memorable. 7 starts the third “trilogy”, and is the transition to a new graphical style (as a note, the angle is pretty weird, and it’s been shown and had a mod which unfortunately no longer works that rotated the game 45 degrees to the right and that is ALL it took to make it look amazing), 7 also has two parts, the black gate and serpent isle, both are fantastic, it’s easily the best of the final trilogy. 8 is..again…an interesting game in itself (see a pattern here, lol) It improved the graphics and controls considerably from 7, building off it’s strengths. It’s big issue however is this is when EA was taking direct control of Origin so it was rushed and released missing large story chunks, still good but sadly a little anti-climactic in a few things. 9 we don’t talk about.

    There’s also two “side story” games, Martian Dreams and Savage Empire, they both use the Ultima 6 engine and are interesting but it’s kinda just “more” U6 but with their own stories (doesn’t take place on the same planet)

    If I was put at gunpoint and forced to choose, UUW1, U4, and U7 are the best 3, 1-3 are fantastic games but 4 is where the story gets a LOT better (though the twist in 2 is good) and it otherwise is just an improvment on the first 3 in every way. 7 introduced an entire new type of RPG, with mouse control and the ability to literally pick up ANYTHING in the world and take it/leave it wherever. UUW as you’ve played it you understand how amazing it is, though the walkthrough does kill a good part of the game, it’s really supposed to be a somewhat “open world” exploration game where you make your own path (there’s no “ONE” way to beat UUW)

    It’s been kinda a sore spot for me for a long time how forgotten the Ultima series is, it literally DEFINED the computer rpg and everything from Baldurs gate to Dragon Quest used elements pioneered in the series, and every few games they tried new things (the series has everything from first person dungeons, open world maps, and full inventory systems as you go through the games) It was once THE RPG to compare to, but EA’s literally sat on the franchise so long it’s little more than a memory.


    I wouldn’t say the Ultima series is forgotten quite yet. The Ultima Dragons fan group is still very active at any rate. EA have had a couple of half-hearted attempts at reviving the series in recent years with Lords Of Ultima + Ultima Forever and Ultima Online continues to get updates over 20 years after release. The series would be an obvious target for some remakes though. I’ve been expecting something like that from EA for years. They wouldn’t be able to include Lord British as Richard Garriott holds the trademark still but it would be easy enough to substitute in another character.

    Underworld is one of my favourite games of all time. I would love to see that covered by DGC. Failing that 7 would be the most accessible to new players these days I reckon. Martian Dreams could be a good choice either especially given that it’s free on GOG. It’s one of the best in the series to me and the two Worlds Of Ultima games were built to ease people into Ultima after all. I love the whole premise of gallivanting around Mars with famous historical figures.


    Thanks for the lengthy replies. I think I will see if I can find Ultima IV. The screenshots of 1-3 make me hesitant to invest any time in it. I did really like the story in UUW and liked the “open world” play style. Unfortunately it was a huge time sink and you really needed to keep notes. U IV will probably be the same.


    Alright, I downloaded the game from GOG for free and started it. Really needed the manual and reference card to understand the interface. The Map provided with the game seems totally useless and written in their runic alphabet too. The in game map does not show town names, which is annoying for new players as they are not familiar with the map, but this is probably a technical limitation of the hardware at the time.

    The partial text interface makes the conversations a bit basic, just pumping everyone for information. Also I died in the game, due to lack of eating or lack of sleep I guess. Is there a hint that you need to do this? Because it was just game over and zap to lord Briton. I understand you need to seek him out anyway, but this feels like the wrong way to reach him. Right I’ll restart my game once more and see if I fare better this time around.

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