Ultima Online: First Week Back

It’s been a week since I’ve retrieved my old Ultima Online account – one that I made back in 1999. I have been playing it fairly consistently when time permits, though it’s been a bit of a learning curve getting back into it. How’s things going? Well…

A Tale of Two Clients

The first thing I had to make heads or tales of (aside from the bank issue that I needed to solve) was the user interface (UI) of the game. This is probably the largest stumbling block for players new to this sort of oldskool game (aside from the absolute lack of handholding it provides).

Even for me, I admit, it was hard to go back to a game where you keyed up macros that you have to remember and use the right mouse button to move. Modern MMOs with their hotbars have spoiled me, and I had to do a good bit of Googling just to figure out how to do rather basic things when I returned to UO.

One of the first questions I was faced with was which client to use: Classic or Enhanced.

At first, I was really leaning towards sticking with Classic. I just like the crisp pixel art style better.

Classic client

But after I spent some time with the Enhanced Client, I leaned that way instead. Mostly due to the easier to use UI – especially hotbars.

Enhanced Client

I just don’t really dig this psudo-3Dish attempt at the art style as much as the oldskool pixel art. It seems more muddy and harder to see — though you can zoom in and out on the Enhanced Client and not so on the Classic.

I do believe there are mods and such for both clients, but I haven’t looked into those yet. One thing at a time.

The Skill Issues

The next thing I had to address and research were my character skills and what to do about them. Since UO was my first MMO and I had no real plan of attack casually playing it 20 years ago, skills on my characters are pretty much all over the place.

I learned that aside from a popular build “Sampire” (life leeching samurai), melee builds on their own aren’t really a good way to go (especially if you intend to solo). I learned Taming builds are all the rage and that Bards can be pretty neat, too.

Between both of my Aywren characters (Yeah, I have two: “Aywren” and “Aywren Sojourner” – I might change that up sometime later), I have a smattering of bard, mage, taming, tailoring, swordsmanship and… it’s just all over the board.

I learned that Stratics is the place fans tend to go for builds and such. It felt good to be back on oldskool forums looking at builds and tactics. I did this for a few days, trying to decide which character I should lean which way.

It seems like Aywren was further along in taming, so I’ve focused on learning that build and magery for her.

While my other character seems to have delved much more into musicanship, so will likely be my bard. I’ve yet to figure out exactly what build I want for this character – she might get a total makeover.

I also learned that being grandfathered into the Endless Journey meant that I actually can roll additional characters! This led me to deleting one of the old ones – she seemed to be leaning towards magery, but didn’t have any items of note in her bags and wasn’t very far into skilling up. So she was pretty redundant and using a name I’d not use now days, too.

I’d like to try out a gargoyle character eventually, but for now, I have enough on my hands!

The Gift of Gear

So after a few days hanging around Moonglow, I learned that the island isn’t as safe as I remembered it. Used to be, as long as you didn’t venture around the graveyard, all you’d ever need to deal with were Mongbats.

My run-in with a skeleton named Edward changed my perspective. He was just wandering up the main road, slaughtering all animals in his wake. I remembered how the skeletons of Moonglow were usually easy for me to take, and this resulted in my first two deaths (death two was trying to get my gear back from my corpse).

I tried to look this guy up, but found nothing about him online. Man, was he nasty and FAST.

After I quickly remembered how to get a rez from Wandering Healers and managed to retrieve my stuff from my corpse, Edward chased me all the way back into Town where I logged off for a bit. I did see him wandering around the west gates of the city later that night. Wish I’d taken a screen, but it all happened so fast.

One day, I will return, Edward. Just you wait.

After doing more research, I determined there is now a new player experience in UO, and this usually starts in a town called New Haven. So, after experimenting with rune books and messing about with moongates, I made my way there.

The bank in New Haven is pretty busy!

Much better! And much more populated, too!

As a new player, this area has a nice sprawling southern area to tame all sorts of animals. There are a few tough fights out there, but nothing my Bear Brigade couldn’t handle (I say that without having tried to fight the ettin).

Syn even rolled a character and we messed around together for a night. This is where we met the very nice fellow from the [kool] guild.

He approached me in town, and I knew he was offering to recruit me to his guild. At that point, Syn had only been in game for 20 mins and I was struggling to answer her questions and teach her what she needed to know to navigate those first-player steps. So neither of us were really able to focus on thinking about a guild that early on.

I’d also forgotten how chatty and friendly people were in older games. I told him that I’d not played UO in 20 years, and I felt a bit bad taking a guild invite when I didn’t know how much I’d be able to contribute. He reassured me that the guild was there to help new and returning players, so I did promise to keep them in mind in the future. But for then, we just needed time to settle in and explore.

He wasn’t pushy and totally understood that. In fact, he offered to give us some gear that would help us start out. At first, I hesitated on taking a gift (modern day MMO mentality), but he explained this was something called LRC gear.

I had no idea what LRC meant, so I asked. He further explained that this gear would completely negate the need to hunt/buy/gather reagents for casting spells.

In UO, every time you cast a spell, it requires a specific type and number of materials that you must keep in your pack – if you don’t have it, you can’t cast it. It was one of the things that kept me from going too deeply into magery.

Once I understood LRC and what it could do for us (since Syn started out in magery, unknowing of the reagents), I quickly agreed to accept his gift. He brought us both back a set of 100% LRC gear (telling us all the while that it wasn’t the best stuff but it would be a help) and gave us both 1 million gold to boot! He also advised us to insure the gear (which I did know how to do), so that it remained with us should we die.

My fancy new LRC gear and the Bear Brigade (There are actually five bears there)

Holy cow! This was further than I’ve been in UO gear and gold wise pretty much ever, and I am so very grateful and exited!

Thank you Mr. from the [kool] guild! I wish I’d taken a screen to remember your name, but I was helping Syn figure out how to put her new gear on at the time. XD

Skilling Up

So, now I’m at the point of skilling up. I’m dropping skills I don’t need and leveling skills I want as a tamer and mage. The quests in New Haven pointed us to an area right near called Old Haven. It’s fantastic for no-aggro enemies and skilling magery.

I even ran across this guy who spawned out of nowhere: Drelgor the Impaler! He took about 5 mins to kill by kiting all over the place while chucking fireballs on low mana, but I took him down!

First “Big” Kill

Right now, I’m hanging around New Haven, skilling my Taming to the south and my casting to the west. I’ve moved up from bears to things like grey wolves and panthers in my taming skills, but bears still seem to be the tankiest pets to tote around at this point. They make short work of Bog things and Greater Mongbats.

I find UO to be a pretty chill solo experience, which is a nice contrast to FFXIV where everything is high energy and mostly group-based stuff. It balances out well, and I’m enjoying the feeling of a world that I’m slowly rediscovering — I know it’s huge and there’s so much for me yet to learn and remember!