A Vet's Review for the New Ultima Online

Monday, October 22, 2012 | 48


Assholes made me play UO again.

I fought urges to vomit, and signed up for the 14 day free trial on UO.com. I'm still not sure how I feel about the massive changes that took place since Trammel poisoned the well and I quit for the first time, but hyperbole aside, Ultima Online is probably still the best sandbox MMORPG. Now that all EvE players have rage-quit this article, let me explain how UO now is completely different than the UO that gave me a Matthews-esque thrill up my leg over a decade ago.

Japanese culture took a shit on Britannia.

The first noticeable difference (besides everything) that immediately punished my eyes was the amount of romanticized samurai cliche's that had invaded an otherwise historically Asian-free dimension. When Richard Garriott dies in a space-accident, he will then proceed to roll eternally in his grave for what they've done. Bushido? Yes. Ninjitsu? Yes. As terrible as it all is, these new skills, as misguided as they are, actually add a large new dimension to the game that up until I quit had fairly restrictive character options. I'll get to the skills later, but it's amusing to think of the meeting that led to adding this shit to the world of Ultima Online.

EA: "You should drum up more niche appeal! Any ideas?"
Sarcastic Drone: "Yeah, Anime was trendy 5 years ago, we should make an Anime zone and skills!"
EA: "Do it."
Sarcastic Drone: "Are you... I was..."
*The EA representative begins to rapidly consume 20 dollar bills*

More Skills, Same(ish) Caps

Regardless of perceived choices, power-gamers always realize that making a character that isn't perfect isn't really a choice. Back in the day, you had 3 or 4 plausible builds to choose from, and deviation would result in being stomped repeatedly into the ground. They've improved on this by adding additional skills and magery alternatives. The meta-game of building a character template and devising a strategy is a part that is missing from most MMORPGs. Talent trees don't count, and you're a fucking asshole for thinking it.

The Community

Ultima's community has always been a strong combination of very awesome and very horrible people. This differs from the Darkfall community that is comprised entirely of the latter. Upon creating a character, I was immediately bombarded by helpful people trying to tell me I was playing the game in a stupid/wrong way. That's always been part of Ultima because the game certainly isn't going to hold your hand.

1337 Epix and Item Insurance

Are you a pussy? No problem! Ultima Online now has powerful equipment and insurance so you can't lose your beloved fancy-shirt of fire. This is by far the worst thing that they added, and it kills the primary dynamic of risk/reward pvp. The saving grace is, players who murder you in Felucca get the money you spent on insuring your items. The profitably PvP, you pretty much have to kill people who are killing high-end stuff... but why wouldn't you just kill the stuff instead? Oh right, because it's fun to murder people...

Still Pretty Tame

Outside of Felucca, and even in Felucca, Ultima Online is still for Carebears. You can't kill or be killed until you soft-consent by entering an area that people can kill you. Don't worry though, the game will tell you before you get in too deep. In felucca, PvP is active and common because most of the largest rewards are therein.

Seige Perilous is Still Hardcore

Forget everything I just said. If you play on Seige Perilous, the world and its players will eat you, and your equipment alive. It has a very difficult point of entry, but it's worth a shot if you like games like DayZ and enjoy bashing your testicles repeatedly with a croquet mallet.

But It's Still Pretty Damn Fun!

Despite what this post might reflect, Ultima Online is at it's core a very unique and rewarding experience for any type of gamer. What alternative is there really? That's what I thought.

Breakdown:

  • (5) Isometric Throwback
  • (7) Sandboxy Goodness
  • (10) The Original Gangsta
  • (10) Predates WoW
  • (-5) Regional
  • (3) Money
  • (-1,000) Where is the Ultima Online I remember? Oh right... Gone forever...

Final Score: Better than whatever shit you're probably playing.

48 comments :

  1. I go back about once every 2 years or so. I always leave wondering why I tainted the memory of what a great game it was, could of been! I've played the free shards also, but in the end I think UO was a time and place type thing. Never again will I experience such blend of PvP goodness, RP shenanigans, total freedom, and Lord British at the helm.

    Spot on again Mig.

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  2. Well written, witty, concise, and I completely agree. Ultima Online is that hot chick you knew in college that you got to bag once, then you run into her a few years later and she had been through a terrible car accident, shes not the hot commodity she once was, and everyone who banged her looks back fondly at it, but you wouldn't want to stick your dick in her now, after a prius crushed her pelvis.

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  3. Is a Prius dense enough to crush a human pelvis? Great imagery.

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  4. Always a fucking Prius!

    This review sucks. Where is all the talk about the enhanced client! The single best reason to play on the official server is that client.

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  5. Oh right... The enhanced client gets 100% of the imagery, and that isn't enough for you? Go back to your cave or basement dwelling.

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  6. Usable interface
    Improved inventory system
    Decent macro system inside the actual client
    Improved art with same UO look and feel
    hotbars!
    Displays skills your working on
    Other quality of life improvements that you expect from a modern client! better map, targeting, interaction with npc's

    The old client is only better if you enjoy punishment and losing 20/20 vision from squinting.

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  7. Despite this post, I will not be encouraging EA to further shit upon Ultima by playing on their servers.

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  8. Yup I'm still looking for that same kind of thrill that I got upon first discovering and immersing myself in UO. It lasted for a number of years, took a 2 year break and then invested another three years. But nothing has come along since to capture and hold my interest or my willingness to invest the time and money again and feel like I'm getting my time and money's worth. I've pretty much resolved myself to accepting that it probably never will. Ok, I admit I still hold onto an inkling of hope.

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  9. We exist, but sadly people who remember what good games are supposed to be are in such minority that developers see no need to acknowledge us.

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  10. Miguelito I am sure you've heard of it already, but check out http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/appleton/greed-monger-a-crafting-focused-sandbox-mmorpg Looks like someone else misses the old Ultima Online too!

    (if this post makes you angry feel free to PK it)

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  11. Pendragon: Seems like an interesting project, but it's really hard to tell what the outcome will be... Doesn't seem to me they will be able to create much content in the game - seems like a small team with little money. On the other hand - ultima online in 3D? Could work. But it would be a real suprise if it wouldn't turn up as another carebearish mmorpg... (500 bucks for an immortal cat? Pet lovers in standing ovations.) Well, we'll see.

    Gho'rak

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  12. No doubt, but it seems our only hope is with the small guys. The big guys don't think we are worth the effort. Richard Garriott I fear is off base with the Ultimate RPG, although I hope I am wrong.

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  13. RG changed the world with UO. I don't want URPG to be like UO because the genre needs another huge change.

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  14. "Where is the Ultima Online I remember?" you wonder...

    Well, it's still there and fully playable!
    Welcome back to the real Britannia:)

    http://www.uosecondage.com/

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  15. hear hear, this is a great review. I second the concise and witty adjectives. I think UO really was a time and place thing as well. Like, gating in a bunch of poison elementals into Vesper bank or the epic destruction of the world prior to the end of the beta server. I still have my cloth map, the little UO trinket that pins onto it, and a couple of articles about when Lord British was killed in Britain b/c his invulnerability was off for some reason. Also I just read the official site and it seems there are still a ton of bugs getting fixed all the time. That was the goddamn buggiest game in the world, and that was actually part of the fun. Using or avoiding exploits to kill the guardians of light guild and doing naked dungeon runs...oh the days. The item insurance was a big fuckover, 'cause as far as I was concerned if you had enough gold to keep yourself armed, armored, and full of reags, then that's about all the gold you really needed. Killing the assholes that used credit cards to buy super items was fun, but without claiming their super items, meh. Also I got really pissed when they nerfed Magic Resistance. I had GM damn it. It was useless after the whole fire/poison/cold/whatever resistance shit.

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  16. Glad you enjoyed it. Nice to see that other people remember UO the same way I do.

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  17. What an asshole. Yeah, people are pussies because they don't want to waste their time with a moronic "risk and reward" system. It's not risk and reward, it's just risk. Everything you gain from your precious hardcore PvP will eventually be lost to some other guy taking it from you. There's no reward there, you just get a temporary feeling of "Haha, I took your goodies!". I would play Counter Strike if I wanted a temporary feeling of pleasure, not an MMORPG. Are you some sort of masochist that actually enjoys starting again over and over and over again? People who enjoy this system have an unbelievably strange sense of fun. Why would you want to play a game that does it's best to emulate all the worst parts of real life, that defeats the purpose of playing a GAME. I think they should make a game where once you die you have to buy a new copy of the game, anything less than that is for pussies right? Just using your own ridiculous logic there.

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  18. Dang. You sure seem like a pussy.

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  19. Wow, not even a proper response. I've yet to meet a bigger piece of shit than you.

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  20. It's not my job to coddle wimpy children.

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  21. What makes it wimpy? There's no strength requirement for losing a virtual item you moron. I don't like wasting my time in games, apparently you do. That's sad.

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  22. In some ways youre both right. First of all I play games to have fun and not to get frustrated. In that point Justin is right. But the "risk and reward"-thing is a really funny thing too. Why do you think its so much fun driving a fast car in a risky way? Yeah, because there is a risk and if there is a risk there is adrenalin. And an adrenalin rush is much more fun than the shitty "run in the same dungeon over and over again until you get the wanted item"-fun. Thats hours of boring pve just for some seconds of satisfaction. In that point Miguelito is right. Im sorry Justin but It is "pussy-style" being afraid of loosing something ingame and being afraid of that hard real life. Yeah life sucks many times, but a self-confident man is not afraid. And he is not always going the way of least resistance. And thats what are games with no risk. You have nothing to fear. Just youre little rainbow world. The biggest problem of pvp these days is, that a casual player will always suck against a hardcore player, just because its all heavily gear-based. I really liked AOC in the first months, where players thought that the equipment is buggy, because there was no significant difference between "good" and "bad" gear. At least I have to say, that I play both kind of games and - thats why I like this website - I hate them all too. Greets from Germany! Keep on like that Webmaster! :)

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  23. Thanks for taking the time to write a thoughtful comment. I have a very short attention span for complainers. Age of Conan for the first couple of months was great despite the lack of risk because it was fiercely competitive in the open world. Unlike most modern MMORPGs, lower level players could beat max level players with superior strategy and surprise. Then, they patched it to death.

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  24. His tolerance for complaining is ironic given the fact that all he does in his blog is complain. And he expects me to write a thoughtful comment when he's insulted people who dare to have a different opinion about what's fun in a game? Ugh.


    Fettbatzen, it's not about losing items for me. It's a continuity thing. For example, with item insurance, I would insure an item that's only worth 500 gold for 800 gold because I don't like my gear to be disposable. I prefer to spawn with it and continue to progress my character rather than starting over and picking up a new set of armor and a weapon from the bank or store for less than I paid to insure it. Even if gear was unbelievably cheap, I'd still like to spawn with it. I also don't mind losing items. Make me lose everything in my inventory, I don't care. Make me lose more gold from my bank account and inventory than my items are even worth, I don't care. I only care about my weapons and armor to be completely honest.


    I love the idea of open world PvP, I'm just not a fan of full loot. I'm a fan of a death penalty, I'm just not a fan of full loot. I enjoyed Runescape's death penalty, letting you choose a few items from your inventory to keep on death. That is an ideal system in my eyes. You don't get to keep enough items to let you walk around with only those items because you wouldn't survive most battles anyways, but you get to keep just enough that you feel like you're progressing your character's gear as much as his stats are being progressed. You don't happen to know of a game like this do you?


    And you know, if I replied to this article at all it would have been much more "thoughtful" if Miguelito wasn't such an ass towards people who enjoy a different playstyle.

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  25. Thanks for reiterating that your fear of loss is stronger than your desire to win. I apologize if I hurt your little feelings by expressing an opinion that isn't entirely popular. LOL

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  26. Oh, my desire to win what? Objects that will eventually be lost as well? Sounds like great fun! Kind of reminds me of getting excited about renting a game for a day. A desire to win with a full loot system makes no sense. You're winning a temporary item, nothing more. This reminds me of people who play Counter Strike all day, all you care about is winning. There's more to a game than winning for fuck's sake.

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  27. I hope I get everything right, Im not an english native speaker.... I dont understand how Items can progress? Even when I loose my Gear, I can take better gear from my bank and it progressed as well. And I dont believe you, when you say you would prefer loosing all your gold than your rusty dagger..... Its kind of a senseless discussion because everyone likes other things, sure, but if you dont like the opinions of miguelito, dont visit his website. The name says everything, dont expect an impartial view of things. You deifnitely cant say its like playing counter strike. Playing a shooter is fun too, but an rpg with different skills and so on demands much more brain from the player. The first really good MMORPG in my opinion was UO and it was my first too. It had the best system. There are safe towns, full loot, but you had that karma thing. Players who kill others get an "karma-penalty" and different titles and when they killed too much they couldnt even visit the safe towns. There is no better system out there. But -same as AOC- it changed in the wrong direction. I dont like death penaltys. I prefer loosing my stuff and can go on again directly. Having to wait for debuffs to went off before i can go on playing "normal" is just boring. Gathering new gear and preparing for fight again is fun for me. And choosing after death what item I can keep and which I wanna loose sounds kind of stupid for me....



    I can understand why Miguelito kind of "hates" persons like you, because they are the reason why the game-industry just releases WOW-clones. Unfortunately its the majority of gamers.
    Like said before I play those games too, but if there would be something new like UO out there, I would immediately stop playing RIFT (yeah I know it sucks ^^). Just addicted to mmorpgs. And I have to mention that Im just playing Warfronts. (But it sucks more and more, instead of releasing some new maps, they release another PVP-Tier and now the hardcore players just overrun the casuals and noobs. I hate that. No skill needed. In every Game the same shit) When I wanna play in a rainbow world where everything is "safe" I rather play a single player MMO like Skyrim.

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  28. Sad but true. Atm Im playing Rift and just started to check out DFUW. Is there a game out there you can recommend? Rift just sucks and DFUW seems just populated with hardcore players and it seems like I will need 1 year to really get pvp ready. (I play games 0-6 hours a day) And it seems heavily gear-based too (when I can trust your review ;) ) So i think i will loose motivation soon...what r u playing atm?

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  29. I have had a lot of trouble finding a MMORPG recently since they've all blended together. You may want to try playing something multiplayer that isn't a a true MMO, like DayZ.

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  30. I think this may be why we're seeing a recent (not so recent) trend of non MMO's with rule-sets defined by the host, like Minecraft, Terraria, DayZ, etc. Companies are finding that niche games like DarkfallUW and Mortal just aren't making enough money to justify their hosting fees.

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  31. I'll pray for you. God bless!


    No matter how much video games and internet pornography have darkened your soul, Christ can still save you!!!

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  32. You are one angry little pagan. Maybe if you had more to your life than video games you wouldn't be such a miserable little boy.

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  33. Pagans are a real issue these days.

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  34. Yes modern baby murdering pagans are a big issue!


    Careful little boy.. Playing around with your video game friends is nothing like dealing with a real intellectual.

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  35. You're making a lot of interesting assumptions about "modern" babies.

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  36. You don't seem to be capable of any coherent argument.

    That's my point. Video games are great, especially good ones like UO! But spending 12-18 hours a day in them really rots your brain.. It makes you think incredibly crude, childish things are extremely witty and sophisticated.


    Next thing you know, you're a complete idiot. I bet you're really smart, so you should grow up and start doing grown up intellectual things.

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  37. Are you a troll, or just retarded?

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  38. Thanks for making my point for me again.


    You're not even capable of an argument.. Just run your mouth with your little gaming potty mouth you practice with other miserable, disaffected secularists on whatever soul-destroying video game you're addicted to at the moment.

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  39. By the way, why does it take you so long to respond?


    It feels like if this were an argument in person, you'd be stuttering like the little leftist poser you are.


    You're no intellectual.. You're not smarter than anyone. You're a miserable little video game addict.

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  40. What am I supposed to be arguing with? You've done nothing but sling around insults based on wild assumptions about me. If you'd like to compare degrees or salaries, I'd be more than happy to, considering you're likely typing from deep within your own asshole where you live.

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  41. Let's here it Miguelito.. What is your degree in and what school did you get it from?

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  42. That's what I thought slow typer.. You're one of the legion shmucks who thinks bitching at other immature fools on video games all day gives him some type of credibility..

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  43. Nah. I change my mind. I'm content knowing that you're just a silly person who doesn't matter.

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  44. I'm not trying to tear you down. I tried to make one helpful comment to a guy who is obviously suffering from his video-game, Hollywood movie inspired secularist cynicism and you jumped all over me like the video game leftist troll who guards his blog from any wisdom..


    Don't get crazy on people if you don't want them to get crazy back.

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  45. You prefer to waste your time grinding for 6 months in instanced dungeons to get an item that's 'special' because it has the description written in green or whatever other faggot bullshit modern MMOs feed you. In old school UO, everyone was on a roughly level playing field because there was no possibility of earning godly items unattainable to the newer players you like to stomp into the ground in Azaroth to show everyone how awesome your level 75 horde shaman faggot is at sucking dicks.

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  46. I can tell you feel passionately about this :D

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  47. You should just play shitty WOW justin, game is obviously too hard for you.

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