What makes Ultima Online so great? *Updated*

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Nipah
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What makes Ultima Online so great? *Updated*

Postby Nipah » Wed Dec 17, 2014 1:27 am

UO Guide offers a lot of good information about the gameplay and mechanics of Ultiam Online, but there are some things that simply cannot be explained with facts. What I'm most curious about is why UO survived all this time, despite (or perhaps because of) having been one of the first graphical MMOs ever. What is it about UO that has allowed people to enjoy it for over a decade? Below are my theories, but I would like to hear from everyone else as well!

1. UO is one of the few MMOs that have hard skill caps. In some games where gear has an indefinitely increasing "Def" number, UO has a very clear "10% physical resist" or "5% Energy resist" with a cap for all resists at 70%. While at first this seems limiting, it is actually quite liberating. By having clear stat caps developers and gamers alike are able to focus on things besides the infinite gear treadmill you see in more modern MMOs. From my experience gear treadmills lead games down a dead-end destination where players are ultimately limited in what activities they can participate in.

2. Going off of that, getting good gear and weapons is heavily dependent on good crafters, leading to a robust player-driven economy. Not only does this encourage social interactivity among players (one of the cornerstones of MMO longevity) but it adds another layer of complexity to the gameplay. Some people can choose to be crafters instead of fighters and enjoy themselves thoroughly, no one can say the same for games such as WoW.

3. Extra stuff: In UO you can fish. Garden. Own, design, and decorate a house. Build a living aquarium. Build player-run cities. Get into guild wars with other players. Become a pirate of the high seas. Hunt for hidden treasure. The list goes on and on and on and I haven't even mentioned one of the main features; fighting mythical monsters together with tons of other players. I remember reading somewhere that UO was designed not as a game to play, but as a world to live in. All of these possibilities certainly offer plenty of ways to live one's UO life. Certainly more than some games where your only lifestyle choices are raiding or instanced battle grounds.

4. Finally, one of the things that allows UO its longevity is naivety. For a lot of players UO was their first MMO, it was certainly the first to try something of this scale. A lot of people I imagine became incredibly connected to this first experience, despite any downfalls it might have had. Although the game has changed and evolved quite a bit since its original release, perhaps some of UO's popularity can be chalked up to good ol' memories and nostalgia?

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