Exclusive Ultima X: Odyssey interview

Not long ago, the latest addition to the Ultima franchise was announced. Ultima X: Odyssey promise to take the series to a whole new level, by offering a more action-oriented massively multiplayer online game. And even though the game is going to turn away from the social elements that made Ultima Online so popular, lead designer Jonathan Hanna tells that there will be many other radical features in Ultima X: Odyssey.

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Side 3 With the implementation of Virtues and good vs. evil, will there be any player killing involved, and if so, how will this be carried out in Odyssey?

JH: The player characters in UXO follow the more traditional role of the Ultima series… the hero. The focus is on adventuring through Alucinor (the name of the world in UXO) and learning about the Virtues, just as the Avatar did in the Ultima single-player games. So no, there won’t be unrestricted player-killing in UXO, but we do have some very cool PvP systems. Players can challenge each other to duels that are tracked through a robust ladder system. In addition, guilds can challenge each other to large-scale battles. These battles will take place on private maps, preventing outsiders from interfering with the battle. Also, players can wager gold and items on duels and guild battles, making them even more interesting. Combined with our highly interactive and action-packed combat, PvP in Ultima X: Odyssey will be a blast! Private Realms has been mentioned, allowing players to go through special adventures both solo and in groups. Will there still be a seamless, huge world where everyone can meet up and adventure in less scripted areas?

JH: Absolutely. The world is broken up into zones, but all of those zones exist as public versions. The private areas exist on top of a vast, richly detailed, public world. We don’t want to create a game where the public areas are nothing more than a lobby for grouping before going to the private areas. The public maps will be full of players fighting monsters, trading items, chatting, etc. In a world where riches seems to be irrelevant (not being able to own structures and other status symbols), what will drive players to constantly grow and evolve, except for the typical character development? What are the rewards for adventuring?

JH: Riches aren’t irrelevant. There are lots of things to spend money on, such as buying cool weapons, armour, and clothing, hueing those items to make your character stand out more, increasing your personal carrying capacity, etc. The rewards for adventuring go far beyond gathering gold, though. For example, players can complete quests to gain Virtue points, which they can spend to make their items even more powerful. These points can be earned and spent multiple times to enhance multiple weapons, providing a great incentive to continue adventuring. Plus, players can gain “intelligent” items, that level with your character. These items will carry a high value on the open market. I suspect that players will find ways to earn and spend riches that we never even anticipated! It's obviously an Ultima game. What lore, political elements, stories and legends will be a part of Odyssey? In essence, what is going to make us feel that we are actually in an Ultima game, and where in the Ultima timeline is the game set?

JH: Everything about this game screams Ultima! From the character races (which include Gargoyles, Orcs, Pixies, Humans, Elves, and Phoda – a race based on the Fuzzies from previous Ultimas) to many of the points of interest, you’ll find plenty of references that hearken back to the Ultima games. More importantly, our entire adventure system is centered around making decisions based on the Ultima Virtues. For example, you might be asked to slay a Minotaur Lord who has been raiding a local farm. When you find him, you learn that his people are starving. At this point, you could demand Justice and fight the minotaurs, or you could show Compassion and help them find a new food source.

In keeping with the previous Ultima games, neither Virtue choice is the wrong choice – they’re just different. They will, however, lead you down different paths of the adventure, as well as determine the abilities your character can learn. Eventually, as characters continue to advance they can even ascend to the level of the Avatar, the ultimate fantasy hero!

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