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Ultima
Earlier installments:
· Ultima
· Ultima II
· Ultima III: Exodus
· Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar
· Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny
· Ultima VI: The False Prophet
· Ultima VII: The Black Gate
· Ultima VIII: Pagan
· Ultima IX: Ascension
Last seen in: 1999
Publisher: Electronic Arts












Ultima

The Ultima Series

Quoth Ye Olden PC Gamer Becky Cunningham: The much-beloved Ultima series is in itself a chronicle of the rise and fall of PC RPGs in the 1980s through the 1990s. Created by Richard "Lord British" Garriot, the series began with a trilogy of old-school "beat the Big Bad Guy" games. Starting with the fourth game, however, the series truly took on its identity. The player character became a modern person who was sucked into the Kingdom of Brittania and became the legendary Avatar, savior of the land and its people. Rather than simply taking up the sword and beating up bad guys, the Avatar was tasked with upholding the Eight Virtues of Honesty, Compassion, Valor, Justice, Sacrifice, Honor, Spirituality, and Humility. Every game took the Avatar to a later point in Brittania's history, allowing the world to evolve greatly from one game to another. As the series progressed, the Avatar faced increasingly complex moral situations, from an evil lord who corrupted the Virtues in Ultima V, to the invasion of a race of monsters who turn out to possess a great deal of humanity in VI, to a seemingly-benign cult run by a menacing alien presence in VII.

Not only did the Ultima series innovate in terms of theme and storyline, it innovated in terms of world-building and game mechanics throughout most of its history. It was in the mid-Ultima games that Garriot experimented with building a living world that would later create the backbone for the legendary Ultima Online. Garriot pioneered in the areas of having RPG party members with personalities, towns and NPCs with day/night cycles and daily schedules, setting games in a single game world that evolves over the course of the series, and interactivity between the player character and objects in the game world.

Unfortunately, the RPG genre was on the decline in the mid to late 1990s, overshadowed by FPS games and action adventures. Ultima VIII marked a major departure for the series, playing more like a platformer than an RPG. Ultima IX fared even worse, appearing as a poor mimic of Bethesda's 3D fantasy worlds. It was clear that Garriot's main focus had turned to multiplayer online games, and in 1999 Garriot and Electronic Arts experienced a messy divorce that left EA with the rights to the "Ultima" games but Garriot with the rights of the characters he'd created. While Garriot went on to produce MMOs and become a space tourist, EA sat on the Ultima rights for many years. It has now dragged the venerable series out to create Lord of Ultima, a free online browser strategy game that shares little with the original series but the name. To old fans of the series, this seems like an awful waste of the franchise. Ultima deserves better, EA.

Can a new game happen?

Series Highlights

Almost impossible due to Garriot/EA rights issues.

Ultimas IV-VII

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