Ultima 6 Was Released Twenty-Five Years Ago Today
You all know by now, I trust, that Ultima 6 is my favourite entry in the Ultima series, and I’ll readily defend it as the high point of the series to all and sundry. So it was with no small amount of excitement that I received this timely reminder from Soryu Dragon:
— Soryu Dragon (@SoryuDragon) June 1, 2015
Building on the thematic groundwork put in place in Ultima 4 and Ultima 5, Ultima 6 challenged players to resolve a conflict between Britannia and the Gargoyle race. But whereas the game could have gone the route of being just another example of the “save us from the monsters!” fantasy trope, Ultima 6 flipped the script and gave the monsters a legitimate grievance…and its victory condition was only reachable if you didn’t slay every Gargoyle on sight.
It’s a brilliant bit of narrative subversion, one that hasn’t been repeated in too many games since. Additionally, Ultima 6 was the first Ultima to introduce a monoscale, truly open-world Britannia to players. It featured a high degree of interactivity in its world (including horses that could be ridden!), deeper and more involved conversations, full NPC schedules, and a variety of dungeons that each felt unique despite all sharing the same reddish-brown tile graphics.
To celebrate this occasion, I’ve lined up a few things plucked from the Mythic Archives, and I’ll be posting those later today. For now, feel free to sound off about your recollections of the sixth Ultima game.