Ophidian Dragon blogs his way through the entire Ultima series, from beginning to end.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Ultima V, Day 10

Allright, I confess. I finished the game last night. or this morning. It all depends on your perspective, I suppose. Before I posted yesterday, I had gotten everything ready--I bought some mandrake and nightshade, gathered lots of gems and torches, and saved my game just inside Doom. Amusing note--in Ultima IV, buying a sextant involved asking for an unlisted item at the guild. In Ultima V, they inform you it was a limited time offer.

About 3:45, I went to bed, and decided, "Why not go ahead and map the first few levels of Doom?" So I did so. In fact, the first five levels or so are almost all maze, and a particularly annoying maze because ladders really do not match up this time (eg, they are not in the same relative positions on one floor as on the next). There were a few instances of Annoying Invisibility-Less Combat, but I was able to escape those fairly unsathed. The maze was not that confusing since the huge numbers of ladders were connected in a fairly straightforward manner, and I had like 90 gems to work with (and, of course, th ability to reload games before I used all my gems!). This got me down to level 7.

Then things got really, really hard.

I found a room on Level 7 which had a bunch of sand traps (where did these guys come from!?) and daemons and those ever-frustrating wisps. The sand trap in the center covered a ladder. I froze time and killed it--and to my annoyance, I had to get all the pointless treasure it left behind in order to uncover the ladder, thus wasting precious momnts of frozen time! Next was a room full ofdragons and serpents--annoying due to their fiery breath. Freezing time helped here, as I was rapidly able to uncover a hidden bridge and zip on through. Finally, we have a room with reapers and mongbats. More freeze-time scrolls worked wonders here, although I made a terrible mistake and went west instead of hunting for secret doors. The net result is that I had to come back and kill all the monsters, but I made another mistake--it would have been easy to take them out normally, but I chose to freeze time to do it (to save hit points in case another room followed). This used up my last scrolls, and made the next few rooms much harder. Anyway, I found a secret door and went north.

Finally, I could save the game and rest. As a side note, the thing I hate most about Ultima V is that it is so tedious to heal your party. You can rest for 8 hours and gain only two or three hit points--or, about half the time, none at all. Consequently, the next few minutes involved the pressing of the following keys: H-8 Q-Y. Over and over again. If I happened to get attacked (which seems to happen less often with no companions, by the way), I died and reloaded the game, and H-8, Q-Y even more. Now that I think about it, regeneration rings could hav helped, oviously. I am loathe to use up magic items though! That's why I had lots of freeze-time scrolls :-)

Going forward dropped me down a pit into a room full of sharks and wisps. Trying to dash out just got me killed, and I was out of scrolls to freeze time. After lots of trial and error, my solution was to cast charm on two of the wisps, use those to kill the other wisps, and handle the sharks myself. I don't understand why you die so fast in this game. It's true, my character is only level 6, but another, what, 60 hit points wouldn't have madea dfference when every hit from a dragon or a wisp or whatnot takes out about 30-40! Monsters do as much damage as in Ultima IV, it seems, but your total number of hit points is a lot less. Anyway, I finally got through that room, saved, and hit the final room.

This one was a doozy, but another place where having one character was, in a way, beneficial. The room has a bunch of mongbats and daemons, and when you step on a certain square, the area near you fills with lava. My solution was to step on that square, and then stp back over the lava onto the ladder where I am safe. This forced my enemies to come towards me, into the lava, which kills mongbats very quickly. Sometimes mongbats leave chests, and my orginal theory was that three mongbat chests would block off the daemons from attacking me, and I could take them out with the magic axe. Unfortunately, mongbats leave chests too rarely! A much more efficient strategy was to use up my scrolls which summoned daemons, use those to kill of daemons (and keep people from hitting me). Interestingly, daemons I summon have a ranged attack even when I wear the crown, which was a huge advantage. Eventually, I killed them all, and left the room. And I forgot to take a screenshot of the battle :-(

Then I fell into a pit into a chamber with a mirror where Lord British peered at me. I was sucked inside, and he asked about his box. Hey, you nitwit, why didn't you tell me to bring it when you appeared before me when I rested!? Fortunately, I knew about it and I gave it to him, Blackthorn was banished to another realm, and I was immediately sent home. Hooray for me.

Well, Doom was a pain in the butt, and when I checked the clock again it was 6:31 AM. Wow. I was getting really angry towards the end, though, yelling at the screen every time I died (I probably went through that shark room about 40 times). In retrospect, I should have done the following:

-Conserved negate time scrolls. It's better to get hit a few times and heal afterwards in some of the early rooms.

-Brought more reagents. I stupidly came with only 5 mandrake and nightshade, meaning my ability to ast charm was limited. Charm is among the most helpful spells in this dungeon, at least when you are limited to the sizth circle! I also tried out other strategies, like Tremor spells, but that one stinks and hurts no one (after three of them, no enemies died in rooms I tried it in!!).

-Raised my strength at the shrines. It would have been useful because the faster I kill monsters, the more use I can make of my time-freezing scrolls.

Note one thing that is not listed among my ideas for survival--bringing in more party members. Once again, their cost in food and healing and the plain annoyance of haing to control them is not worth what they add in combat, especially since they die so easily.

The last thing I did was out of curiosity--I transferred my Ultima IV character into Ultima V, which turned into a dude with 25 strength, 25 dexterity, 23 intelligence. Good grief, I should have done that in the beginning.

Now, time for my final thoughts. Ultima V has a far more compelling plot than Ultima IV, and I would say it takes everything Ultima IV did and made it either better, or at least more complicated. The dungeon rooms are more interesting and more coherent, and I actually enjoyed exploring them to some extent. After four gmes, Garriott FINALLY got the hint that, gosh, maybe harder monsters should leave better treasure? The outer world is where the game really shines, as NPCs now have schedules, there are lots more interesting places to visit, and the conversations are more interactive and reference one another more often.

On the negative side, a big problem with nonlinearity in games is that their plots are less compelling as a result. Someone tells me to fetch the crown, and I do so, but he doesn't acknowledge it. I destroy the Shadowlords and besides not showing up and "attacking" the towns, no one cares, not even Blackthorn. I'm supposd to be an outlaw, but no one reports me or assaults me, besides the ocassional guard--and I think they would assault me even if I were not an outlaw. The fact that Ultima V is so interactive and quest-driven makes this break in suspension of disbelief all the more glaring, The same is true for Ultima VI, and in some ways Ultima VII. Serpent Isle fixed this to a great extent, so when you become a knight, people greet you differently, even outside of the knight's town, etc.

Ultima V also didn't have much in the way of side quests--but that's OK, because a lot of things were inessential (black badge, spyglass, etc). I am glad i was able to answer most of my questions about those items--the only thing I don't know about is the silver sword, which you sometimes get as dungeon treasure. I only found I once. I also found the glass sword, but didn't see much use for it. Finally, a FAQ mentions a chaos sword, which I ever found--apparently it is in Blackthorn's castle and is "bad news." Oh well. The final question, of course, is this--Why did the Shadowlords give British such a cozy prison? Wacky.

I guess this took about 26 hours to complete, though I haven't added it all up. I look forward to Ultima VI, the first one in the series that I played!


JCC said...

Congrats on finishing this! I have fallen way behind you partially due to being sucked into Puzzle Quest.

I think you would have enjoyed having a full party if you had fully equipped them with magic axes. An easy way to get tons of money and equipment (including the axes) early is to rob the armory at the bottom of LB's castle over and over again. I did this and it made survival much easier in the early goings. Of course my karma is still only around 8 or so, but I figure it will pick up later!

Jeff said...

Way to go! I remember consulting many guides on my voyage through Doom, and getting irate.

1) Will you transfer your Ultima V character into Ultima VI?

2) I suspect that if you skip everything skippable, you can beat Ultima VI in about an hour. I haven't tried it myself though. Thoughts?

3) Once I set my lenses down in the Codex Chamber, realized I forgot the moonstones, and left, and when I came back one of the lenses was gone and I had to restore a savedgame. So, word of warning there.

Paulon said...

Congrats on the finish.

Silver swords are apparently just a standard weapon - you can even buy them in the armoury in the basement of Castle Britannia. They only do 12 points of damage as opposed to 15 for a Long Sword, so they're not really worth bothering with.

The Chaos Sword is like an infinite use glass sword as far as damage is concerned. Unfortunately it also charms the party member using it in combat, so they go ahead and dice the rest of the party before collapsing in a heap. It's behind a lot of locked doors in Blackthorn's Palace.

As for LB's prison, he says himself that the place was older than Mondain, which makes it older than the Shadowlords and the Gem of Immortality. My guess is that whoever created it in the first place didn't want to harm whoever they designed it for, and the Shadowlords couldn't get into it to redecorate without being imprisoned themselves.

Anonymous said...

This was my first Ultima and to this day it is still one of my favorite games of all time.

I think you should have built up a good strong party from the beginning. That would have made your game much easier. Once I found the treasure room in LBC and the shop selling magic axes the game becomes WAY easier.

And once you get the whole party equipped with magic axes the best to level them is to sail into the ocean and look for sharks to kill. Set each player to solo mode and let them have a go at some seas monsters. Do that for each one and you will have a vicious party.

I never found lack of food to be a problem in this game. There are certain shops or farmers (forget which ones) that will sell you large amounts of food at wholesale!

The most annoying games in this respect are UIII and UVII.

My first time playing the game I really didn't follow the main quest. I just explored every nook and cranny multiple times and tried interacting with every object I could find.

I think if I had just rushed through the game I would have found it less enjoyable. This game is amazing in the small details it gets right.

Anyway, I look forward to reading your future blogs!

Claus Dragon said...

Just started reading your blog and I like it a lot.

One thing to add: levelling.

You have a chance to gain a stat point when levelling. So, at level 8, you are out of chances.

But when you die, you loose experience, depening on how high your karma is (control-k checks it i think). You also loose levels.
But you dont loose stats, so, with some dilligence, you can get a dex=30 level 8 char with a magic axe, which means about three commands per round (same as mongbats). Add a ring of invisibility and you are very fast and very invincible.

Eric said...

Nice blog... I just coincidentally happened to replay U5 after almost 20 years myself. What fun to read your posts!

One thing I noticed is the following: if you cast the Turn Undead spell on skeletons, it seems to make them flee by setting their hit points to the "critical" level, thus making them easier to kill at the same time. The 8th level "Fear" spell has the same effect, but works on any monsters. And--what I think is a terribly lazy programming solution--if everyone in your party puts on Invisibility rings (easiest if you have only one party member) then all the monsters seem to lose interest and start leaving the screen... but if you take off the rings, they continue to run off! What must be happening is that, when everyone goes invisible, the effect is the same as a totally effective fear spell! That may also explain why you were so impressed with the magic axe--maybe you started using it with the Invis. rings at the same time, and then you easily kill any monster with just one shot. The exception is of course the dungeon Doom, where the rings don't work--the axe is no less powerful than before, only the monsters have their full hit points and don't run away.

I also settled on going solo as the least annoying way to go. Only I made a point of becoming 8th level before entering Doom--and then you get the big death spell, which you can cast 3 times if you have 24 intelligence or more. That more or less wipes out all the monsters in battles. I recommend going to the trouble of achieving 8th level just for the thrill of casting that spell!

One more tip-- dungeon Shame is a gem-mine, with those rooms with reapers guarding loads of gems. Well with the crown on, the reapers can't hurt you unless you step next to them. So just collect all the gems and leave--if you don't kill the reaper, the room replenishes and you can quickly fill up on gems this way.

Anyway thanks for a great read!

charles said...

Fine work...Karma: Glass-sword
Thx paulon, for info on silver sword, it seems to be lighter..
and the chaos sword...What if you exit everyone from battle and then equip the sword...I had it, but goy caught by guard and restarted and didn't want to spend time and keys getting it again...Jeweled sword?

To JCC, releasing prisoners will up your Karma.answering questions about blackthorn in new Magica will improve Karma..Giving to the begger at Minoc every time raises it +1...Giving to the sister in cove will raise it too...Make a point on every visit...I had Karma of 99, so, I am not sure if releasing prisoners at Blackthorn's castle will work.I bet it does though.

Glass-sword..I have gotton out of a shadow lord trap with it and invisiblity(I think, if memory serves from 20 years ago. I tried for fun)...The Gargole at blackthorns castle can be killed with one hit with the sword...You can get seven if you take a full party and equip them...The glass sword will kill anything in one hit... Great Blog..

Ultimate Carl said...

Congrats on finishing another great game!

Goldenflame said...

About a year ago, Jeff says that if you skip everything skippable you should be able to win U6 in about an hour... my record is just shy of three hours- using spam spam spam humbug to level and get magic armor, using the Orb to free all the shrines without fighting, and skipping just about everything.

I felt justified, as I had lost my saved game to a bug just before winning.

Jan √ėyvind said...

I found combat to be a little boring in Ultima V, a nice trick to get the main character to level 8 quickly was the Dragon/Daemon rooms at the bottom of dungeon Deceit. If you don't kill all the monsters in a room and get the "victory" message, you can leave and kill them all over again.

The rooms with two dragons in a cage are worth 50xp each time you do that, using a morning star or halberd so you can hit them and they can't hit you.

From level 6 to level 8 in half an hour (2900 xp)...

Anonymous said...

Great blog.
This was the last Ultima game I played, but I don't think I quite finished it. I remember the dungeons were really well done with traps and tricks and the underworld was a royal pain -- those mongbats kicked my party's butt.

Mike Monaco

Anonymous said...

Awesome blog--brings back millions of dormant memories. As another blogger mentioned, this was also my first Ultima game. I believe it was Christmas '87 or '88 when I received it--to this day it remains my favorite Ultima, and probably my favorite game after 20+ years.

Never tried going solo, and don't really see the allure. For me, the combat was engrossing and full of exciting options. I loved rearranging my characters' loadouts whenever we managed to scavenge a slightly more powerful weapon. Combat only trended towards monotony when everyone had their magic axes. I found the environment, plot, day/night cycle, NPC-schedules, and fairly everything else engrossing and endearing.

I've probably replayed the game 3-4 times since 1987/1988, but haven't touched it for at least 12 years. Your blog is inspiring me to go for number 5 (6?). I've only skipped U2, U3, and the U6 spinoffs on the computer side of things. However, I think a replay/play of the whole series will have to wait until my next life. Thanks for letting us live vicariously through your exploits!