I've been a little slower beginning this game, due to jobhunting, and I expect the pace to slow a bit in general--I warned you it would take a year or more! The backstory is simple--Lord British goes, for some reason, to investigate the Underworld and is captured by some mysterious Shadowlords, who then corrupt Blackthorn, who rules in the absent British's stead, to their will. I'm less clear on how this game is one than the previous games, but I do recall that it takes a lot of quest fufillment and so on.
First, some notes on my progress: There's not much of it. I hit britain and the three Brittany towns around the castle, and I also visited Paws and Trinsic. About all I did was collect clues, though I did also dig up some nice items (see below). The NPCs in this game are much more conversent than Ultima 5. They ask your name and demand to know things often enough that they don't seem as artificial as the people in Ultima IV. Gone too are the jokey characters like the "spicy woman" named pepper or the "jester twins." The only disappointment about the game thus far is the towns have lost a lot of thir uniqueness. Specifically, it seems like every town is a crazy wallked city with multiple levels! The villages are smaller, though, and full of crops (which, incidentally, can be picked). My progress has mostly consisted of item collection and notes--I have learned that i must solve the shrine quests, and that I need to talk to people about the Resistance. On a hunch, I asked a vague warrior about Shadowlords, and she told me to ask her companions, but curiously they gave no response. Hmm.
The game has a wider variety of items and armor that can be acquired when you kill onsters, and the interface seems even more stremelined than that of Ultima IV. Observe the sreenshot, where I find some weapons, armor, food, torches, etc. off of a dead troll. Generally, however, the combat in this game is quite a bit harder than before. I was killed by some freaking skeletons. SKELETONS! Gadzukes. The game world is much more attractive as well, with lots of new tiles for terrain and for objects in the game world like tables and chairs, even if the perspective for some of these items is a bit bizarre (The tables are viewed isometrically, but the walls are just blocks of bricks).
I also found out about a flying carpet, but to get to it I think i will have to kill a bunch of guards. I think the guard may even be magical or something--growl. On the plus side, I also foun an invisibility ring inside a tree stump, along with some gems. Note to self: always search tree stumps. My only complaint thus far is the day-night cycle. It goes by WAY too fast! It's cool that people go to bed and dinner and so on, but it is annoying that they seem to sleep for so long, and that searching for clues in one town seems to take 24 hours even when there's only like 2 or 3 shops. Good grief. In this screenshot I am waiting for a very late sleeper to arise and talk to me. Also, the first screenshot shows me in a skiff (cheaper than a real boat!) after getting my first shrine quest...which was to go to the Codex and ask about the unkind soul. How boring.
Also, larger screenshots were requested. My screenshots are the original size, it's just screens are not as lo res anymore :-P I may try resizing them, particularly if I can get DOSbox to do it by itself and not have to do it by hand.