Okay… I guess this is one hell of a lame pun but I was somehow at a loss about a title for this Ultima 3 blog post and since I just got my Exotics Weapons and Armor, that felt like a good idea!
So I have started my quest to find and vanquish that Exodus bastard who tends to release way too many monsters over the land. But then perhaps I should thank him? I mean that certainly means lots of experience!
But of course even before starting my quest, I began by reading the Manuals (since there are three of them) and it shows much improvement over Ultima II, getting closer to the traditionnal Ultima manuals we’ll get from Ultima IV onward. The “Book of Play” is still more of a game manual than an actual in-universe book, but it’s actually written in an interesting way because while it breaks the fourth wall, it does pretend as if everything is in-universe, with your computer being some sort of arkane ritual device leading you to Sosaria. “The Ancient Liturgy of Truth” and “The Book of Amber Runes” are also good read too, which inventive description of the spells of the game notably in the way you need to use reagents (altough you thankfully don’t have to go through these crazy rituals to cast spells in the game: I mean I don’t want to sacrifice an owl, really!)
I basically set up a very simple party: a Ranger, a Fighter, a Cleric and a Mage – all humans. I didn’t put a Thief because I’m not fond of thieves in general, and I put only humans even if they are not the most efficient in these classes because I’m also not fond of the concept of having all those un-Britannian races which seem so out of place even by the game’s standard (I mean all you encounter in the end are human NPCs – so it feels even more silly!).
I have to say this game is much more fun than Ultima II. It has this classic Ultima vibe, but it’s more than that: the design is more focused and there are much less annoyance than its predecessor. It’s actually fun to and explore the world and its cities and get clues from the various NPCs. Combats are also much more enjoyable with the party approach, since you have more things to do and more possibilities. Of course the game is still very combat heavy which can get annoying, but still fun in the end.
At this point in my game my characters are somewhere between Levels 4 and 7, I still don’t have any Marks or Cards, and I have a boat which allows be to go and pilfer the Devil Gultch treasury. I also got the Exotics Armour and Weapons altough I guess I kind of cheated since I got them by remembering were they were. Whoops. So basically now I need to get more money in order to level my characters’ stats in Ambrosia and get to the Dungeons to find the Marks and the Time Lord. Basically: still quite a way to go !
As closing words, some comment about the Mac remake. It’s actually very good: notably the music are just beautiful and the best they’ve ever sounded. It even has an actually playable mouse interface, which says a lot about the efforts put into this remake. The biggest improvement is about managing your inventory since this is all mouse based, and make it less of a chore.
The new graphics are very good, altough you can also use different tilesets if you feel like: anything from the PC CGA graphics, to the VGA Ultima IV tileset and even some weirdess tiles such as the NES version. There are even existing mods using more toolset like the Ultima V one!
This Mac version also have some new features: bound to be controversial but interesting such as removing wind effects, having your spellcasters cast healing spell automatically when they can to heal your party, or more interesting: a form of combat where you let the computer handle your characters in battle. It does remove some of the fun, but I actually can be usefull to do some levelling easily, especially when the whole map is cluttered with too many monsters, which seems to happens more often here than in other versions.
In any case that was it about my first day in Ultima III – I’ll be trying to finish it by tomorrow night (since I go to vacation on Tuesday and my laptop can’t handle Mac Emulation) altough I’m not overly sure about the feasability of this.