Today I began my quest in Ultima VI. I explored Britain for an hour and a half, essentially, plus a side trip to Cove. Among other things, I had a stimulating chat with a dog, talked to a fat man who I thought was a woman, and got Iolo killed by a wizard's pet dragon (thus cutting short my Cove vacation). Aye carumba.
I think the technological leap between Ultima V and Ultima VI was something like the leap between uUtima III and Ultima V, it's just totally staggering. Gone are the one-key-per-command interface, replaced with a handful of icons for using, moving, talking, attacking and a few others. Added are attractive portraits of everyone you meet, a huge number of new tiles and items, and just a lot more color in general.
In fact, I think it's color that really distinguishes Ultima V and VI in appearance--There's a lot more black in V. Grassland tiles are specks of green on a black background, whereas here they are all shades of green. Ultima VI's character creation was much like that of its predecessors, except this time you get to choose your face, and there are a handful of hair colors for white avatars, and a black avatar as well. I always wondered--did the term "avatar" as a general word for an online presence have its origin in the Ultima games? I thought the original word meant some kind of leader, so it's weird that would get co-opted for the Internet.
Anyway...people are very talkative, and I've already been hit on by the nice girl at the treasury. Ah, if only I were really the Avatar! Then the teller at the real-world bank would try to woo me rather than simply say "WELCOME PLEASE SLIDE CARD."
Ultima VI is open-ended, and I managed to catch a whole lot of threads of plot and non-plot to follow, just from this one town: I have to find the jester's clues, I must find a book for Lord british, I have to see Penumbra, save the shrines, and talk to a hurt dude in Cove about gargoyles, though he actually had remarkably little to say!
I think the game starts off on the wrong foot. First of all, the castle is completely deserted, save for British, a cook, Geoffrey and the mage Nystul, the last two of whom literally do not converse with you; they just give the same long-winded speech over and over again. Second, you appear in the throne room, and they just sit there why gargoyles (who follow through a moongate after the Avatar is saved from a sacrifice...long story) try to kill you!
One of the amusements in this game and Ultima V (and later games, too) is to read tombstones. For some reason they are almost all these silly insulting poems. An example:
Roger's manner was formal and stiff
Until one day he fell off a cliff
Now his body's a cordial host
To worms and maggots for now he's a ghost.
Ew. This prompted me to invent a prayer to use when I camp in the woods:
As I lay me down to sleep
Pray British my soul to keep
And if I die before I wake
Don't let Iolo give me a rhyming tombstone
Speaking of camping in the woods, it seems to be the only choice for sleep. I was given a room in the castle, but the bed does not seem usable for sleeping. Hmmm...
Speaking of sleeping...