Can you complete an Ultima game without killing anyone?
Well, no, I don’t think it’s actually possible. Pulling off an achievement like this in an Ultima title — in which you, the player, do not directly kill even one enemy — is simply not do-able.
The Update Gate (July 2015): Or is it? See below…
But how close can you come?
Take my personal favourite Ultima title, for example: Ultima 6. If ever there was an Ultima where it might be possible to opt for the pure pacifistic playthrough, Ultima 6 would be it, because the number of direct kills necessary to pass it can be kept fairly low:
- All of the shrines can be cleansed without combat (thanks to invisibility rings)
- None of the gargoyles that ambush you at the beginning need to be killed by you, personally
- The First Age of Update (July 2015): Or at all, actually…this encounter can be fled from on foot, or avoided by talking to Lord British, learning about the Orb of the Moons, and moongating away from the battle!
- Most encounters can be avoided, and even many monsters in dungeons can be avoided
- Revenge of the Update(July 2015): To be fair, most of the dungeons can be avoided.
- Arguably, building off of point to and with reference to the above-linked article, it really is just the player — the Avatar — who wouldn’t need to rack up kills in order to achieve this goal; the party in Ultima 6 is fairly effective in combat, should combat become an ugly necessity at any point
And in fact, I can think of only a few situations in Ultima 6 where combat would be an ugly necessity:
The three gargoyles at the beginning, of course.
- Updatodus (July 2015): Not a necessity; see above
The hydra guarding the entrance to the pirate cave
- Quest of the Update (July 2015): Not a necessity; this quest line can be entirely avoided.
- The two-headed alligators and ants in Sutek’s castle, and the rabbits outside
Possibly a few ants in the Ant Mound, since they do occasionally block the tunnels
- Update of Destiny (July 2015): Not a necessity; this quest line can be entirely avoided.
As I say, I’ve tried to play the game this way and haven’t managed it as yet, in no small part because I’m really impatient. I’m convinced it’s possible, though, so perhaps it’s time to dust off DOSbox and give it another try.
And what about some of the other Ultima games? Ultima 1, Ultima 2, and Ultima 3 are write-offs, of course.
How about Ultima 4? So is Ultima 4, as explained in the comments below. How about Ultima 5? Ultima 5 is right out: you have to kill the Shadowlords, after all. I could see it being possible in Ultima 7: The Black Gate, provided I haven’t forgotten about any instances where the Avatar is forced to be alone for a sequence. There is one part of Ultima 7 where the Avatar is forced to be alone, and indeed does have to kill some manner of beasty. Which is a shame, because the companions in that game could handle the end fight, against Batlin and his cronies, well enough to allow the Avatar to avoid having to kill anyone personally…and the same is generally true of any other fight in the game.
I don’t think it’s possible in Serpent Isle, and it’s for sure not possible in Ultima 8 or Ultima 9, or in either Ultima Underworld game.
Anyone else care to speculate? It looks like we’re zeroing in on Ultima 6 as the only possibility. And then not a perfect possibility, either.