Ultima V

Posted by hawkinson76 (377 posts) -

I played Ultima V without any documentation. I had to decipher the rune language, draw the overworld map, map the moongates, and figure out the spell reagents through trial and error, not to mention the basic keyboard commands (I rowed frigates for the longest time before I figured out how to unfurl the sails). On top of that the game requires all sorts of book keeping: detailed notes of conversations, including key words (the password is "dawn"), coordinates of locations using the sextant, and mapping all the dungeons. There was probably a bunch of stuff i never figured out to do (like level up, was it random at every camp out?) I finally gave up when I reached the underworld, I mapped what I could but there were mountains I couldn't get past. I think i found out years later that I needed the blink spell, and since I only figured out spell chants through trial and error (Grav Por!) that would have been very difficult (but so was everything else up until that point).

It was totally worth it, the open conversation system, true sense of exploration, the risk reward to deep dungeon diving, and my own satisfaction at figuring stuff out. And the narrative was told so effectively in game, like when I was captured by blackthorn and had to choose whether to reveal the password of the resistance or sacrifice one of my party.

I would never play anything like that again.

#1 Posted by hawkinson76 (377 posts) -

I played Ultima V without any documentation. I had to decipher the rune language, draw the overworld map, map the moongates, and figure out the spell reagents through trial and error, not to mention the basic keyboard commands (I rowed frigates for the longest time before I figured out how to unfurl the sails). On top of that the game requires all sorts of book keeping: detailed notes of conversations, including key words (the password is "dawn"), coordinates of locations using the sextant, and mapping all the dungeons. There was probably a bunch of stuff i never figured out to do (like level up, was it random at every camp out?) I finally gave up when I reached the underworld, I mapped what I could but there were mountains I couldn't get past. I think i found out years later that I needed the blink spell, and since I only figured out spell chants through trial and error (Grav Por!) that would have been very difficult (but so was everything else up until that point).

It was totally worth it, the open conversation system, true sense of exploration, the risk reward to deep dungeon diving, and my own satisfaction at figuring stuff out. And the narrative was told so effectively in game, like when I was captured by blackthorn and had to choose whether to reveal the password of the resistance or sacrifice one of my party.

I would never play anything like that again.

#2 Posted by FancySoapsMan (5826 posts) -

Hmm... sounds interesting.
 
I'm tempted to buy Ultima V+VI now that they're on GOG, but I don't if I'd be willing to put in the time to finish them.

#3 Posted by ahoodedfigure (4240 posts) -

Some of the best gaming stories happen early, when we're willing to put in a lot and discover every thing a game has to offer. I'm amazed at my early-gamer stamina, but I'm not sure it has to do with age so much as our expectations. Sometimes it's OK to work for a reward, though; I think that's part of why these things were so satisfying. No online help, maybe a buddy to point at the screen and suggest possible solutions, and few games that could compete for your time and attention. 
 
Playing Ultima IV now I'm annoyed by the lack of map, and I wonder how much of the docs I should read. I imagine it would have been even more fun if I'd been FORCED to learn how to play without any documentation, but if I hadn't read how to do some basic commands, a lot of the game would have been lost to me. Yet if they held my hand the whole way, I wouldn't be playing a game-- I'd just be following commands.
 
Some of the best games out there make you work for rewards, I think. There's more to gaming satisfaction than a story. Good to read that someone was able to make it that far in an Ultima game without help. You have my respect :)
 
@FancySoapsMan: Try IV out for free and see if it's your speed. Then get the rest if it's a game style you like. If not, you dodged a bullet :)

#4 Posted by FancySoapsMan (5826 posts) -
@ahoodedfigure: Too late for that, I already bought it :P
 
I'm mostly interested in Ultima VI though, as it looks to be the easiest to get into. I'll probably just skip IV and V.

This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Giant Bomb users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.