At 20 years old, Ultima Online is finally doing what its EA-backed handlers at Broadsword once said it would never do: It’s going free-to-play.
Game update 99, Endless Journey, should be live right now if all goes well with this morning’s patch, meaning new and returning players can jump right in without paying that monthly $13 subscription. They’ll have the same number skills, the same access to dungeon content, the same access to Felucca (PvP), and the same access to chat. On the other hand, they may eventually want to give that sub a go, since without it, they won’t accrue vet rewards, can’t place or co-own houses, can’t place vendors, can’t place auction safes, can’t farm champ spawns, and can’t participate fully in live GM events. They’re also limited to just two characters.
If you’re planning on coming back on an ancient account rather than a brand-new one, do note that your account may not be ready yet. “The transition for closed accounts to Endless Journey accounts has begun and will continue over the next 24 hours,” Broadsword said in its server-up message a few minutes ago. “We appreciate your patience as we work through this process. You will not be able to login until the account has been processed.”
If you didn’t already know that Ultima Online is planning to go free-to-play, you probably still wouldn’t be able to tell without reading between the lines of the latest dev update. But yep, this is happening – on Thursday.
“We anticipate Publish 99 will be going World Wide on April 5, 2018,” Broadsword says. “This update will be done manually, and not during regularly scheduled maintenance. […] Shards will be brought down at 10:30am ET. We anticipate the downtime will last approximately 3 hours.”
As we’ve previously covered, new and returning players will be able to jump in as part of the “Endless Journey” mode, sans subscription. They’ll have the same number skills, the same access to dungeon content, the same access to PvP Felucca, and the same access to chat. But they won’t accrue vet rewards, can’t place or co-own houses, can’t place vendors, can’t place auction safes, can’t farm champ spawns, and can’t participate fully in live GM events. They’re also limited to just two characters.
Just about 20 years ago, my boyfriend and I were wandering through Media Play (heh) when he picked up this box for some new online subscription video game with a cheesy Hildebrandt cover. I was skeptical. He bought it anyway. The next morning, after I’d played all night and totally bogarted his new game, we figured we should probably get a second account. And so we did, in spite of being clueless teenagers who could barely afford one sub, let alone two.
That game was Ultima Online, and it’s the game that birthed the term MMORPG and quite literally dragged me into the realm of virtual worlds. Without it, I wouldn’t be right here where I am talking to you today, having married that dude in the interim. And as of yesterday, that game is 20 years old.
Last autumn, when the game was turning 19, I did a fairly in-depth video on the coolest parts of UO, the parts you can still play today, as I do frequently dive back in and am playing this month too! It’s Massively OP’s best-performing video to date, proving that the game is very much not dead and done. Pretty much everything in the video is still accurate, except for the part on the business model (spoiler: UO is kinda going free-to-play), so I’m going to include it below, but then I’ll recap some of the important bits from the last year and answer a few questions anybody reading is sure to have.
It’s May, so that means it’s time to start planning for Halloween, right? Well, maybe if you’re Ultima Online. In the game’s latest newsletter, Broadsword says that it’s already looking past publish 93 to 94, which will bring back traditional Halloween events and conclude some of the storylines begun with last year’s Time of Legends expansion.
In the nearer future, however, the studio is pushing publish 93 to the test server and some of the smaller production shards for feedback. This patch includes the Myrmidex invasion quest, complete with new alchemy craftables and rewards; the newsletter also teases more distant content in the works, like website vendor search, a pet revamp, and an update for the oldish High Seas pirate content.
Ultima Online latest newsletter, part of a new initiative to insert itself into your inbox, reveals the Broadsword team is hard at work on new content on a new publish that will land in early March and include “new quest content, bug fixes, and new art.”
Producer Bonnie “Mesanna” Armstrong says that the spring update will continue the exploration of the Valley of Eodon, the lands introduced by last fall’s Time of Legends expansion.
“Many adventurers have visited the Valley, seeking to profit from its bountiful resources. The indigenous peoples of Eodon have not taken kindly to the Britannian invasion, yet a larger and more sinister threat is on the horizon. This spring join us as we further encounter with the Tribes of Eodon and we find out the answer to an important question, what will it take to gain their trust?”
She further answers questions from players about stacking bugs, loot nerfs, per resurrection, and glassblowing tweaks. Because of course Ultima Online has glassblowing. It has everything.
The first new expansion for Ultima Online in several years is finally here.
Time of Legends has gone live on the production servers, bringing with it the Valley of Eodon landmass, as well as new skill masteries, housing craftables, artifacts, armor sets, and tamable creatures. All players will receive access to the new humility and spirituality virtues whether or not they get the expansion.
You can read up on the expansion’s patch notes for full details. Any subscribers will get Time of Legends for free up through October 31st, after which it will be sold in the store.
Here’s a quick way to feel old: As of today, Ultima Online is old enough to vote. In celebration of its 18th birthday, Broadsword thanked players on the official site, casually dropping the October 8th release date for the anticipated Time of Legends expansion as only Broadsword can:
From all of us here at Broadsword we want to thank everyone for 18 wonderful years of dedication to the game that has become such a huge part of all of our lives!
The team is busy putting the finishing touches on the Time of Legends and we are pleased to announce that the next release on TC1 will be tomorrow, September 25, 2015. We are planning for an Origin/Izumo release on September 29, 2015 and if all goes well a world wide release on October 8, 2015.
Remember there is still time to take advantage of our special anniversary gift! All accounts active during August, September OR October will receive the Time of Legends completely free! Our gift to you for so many years of dedicated support!
The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. See any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!
This week, all news must go! It’s our biggest MOP Up yet, with over two dozen stories and videos from Guild Wars 2, WildStar, EverQuest II, World of Warcraft, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and more!
Did you forget that Ultima Online is rolling out an expansion later this year? You might have, but for faithful UO players, it’s certain to be the highlight of 2015.
Broadsword announced today that it’s commenced testing of the first part of Time of Legends, and players are invited to help with finding bugs and trying out the new content. The test center patch includes more skills, currency conversion, additional housing craftables, and the new humility and spirituality virtues. Part two of the expansion test will come next week.
Time of Legends is drawing from Ultima’s franchise history and notably works in elements from Ultima II and Worlds of Ultima: The Savage Empire (shown above).
Ultima Online’s Time of Legends expansion is on the way, just in time for the venerable MMO’s 18th birthday in September. And if you’re a dedicated player, you can even get the expansion for free. Says the game’s latest newsletter,
“To help us celebrate our 18th Anniversary we would like to announce that if you have a current subscription, reactivate your account, or start a new account in August, September, or October, your account will have the Time of Legends expansion applied automatically. A gift from us to you! Happy Birthday UO!”
Ultima Online’s month-to-month subs currently cost $13 US.
Time of Legends was announced back in February and will draw on Ultima lore, add new wearables and lands, and expand the virtue system, housing customization, and skill masteries. It will be the first large-scale UO expansion since 2009’s Stygian Abyss.
Today we’re hanging out with Broadsword Online Games, the indie studio that emerged from the implosion of Mythic Entertainment a while back. Broadsword is now steward of the Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot franchises and is actively developing both of these veteran MMORPG titles.
We’ve got three members of Broadsword with us today: President Rob Denton, UO Producer Bonnie Armstrong, and DAoC Producer John Thornhill. Check out what they have to say about expansions, developing for classic MMOs in a modern era, and the future of Broadsword.
Ultima Online producer Bonnie Armstrong has put out a call for player focus testers. Broadsword is searching for somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 people for a first look at UO’s new Time of Legends expansion, after which the devs will expect “constructive feedback.”
You’ll need an active UO account, and you’ll also need to fill out a playstyle survey and sign a non-disclosure agreement. Further details on the signup process are located on the official UO website.
In preparation for the expansion, Broadsword is also beginning a series in-game live events. A new story to kick off the first such event has been published today. And you thought truly dynamic events were dead!
Broadsword has today announced that it is working on a new expansion for the classic Ultima Online sandbox. Time of Legends, the devs say in a new video uploaded today, will draw on Ultima lore and add new clothing, armor, and lands; it will also will expand the virtue system, the housing customization system, and skill masteries. Time of Legends will be the first large-scale UO expansion since 2009’s Stygian Abyss.
The team notes that it’s focused on improving the new player experience before the 1997 game can launch on Steam. Broadsword was spun out from EA in 2014 to manage the MMO properties of the former Mythic Entertainment team.
Ultima Online’s Publish 89 is live on both the EU and NA shards as of last night; of note, the patch introduces changes to IDOC (in danger of collapsing) housing. When a house enters the condemned stage, all access will be removed. When it collapses, grubbers will spawn and make off with its loot, so get ready to chase them down if you’re one of those fine people who stand around at IDOCs waiting for free stuff!
We’ve included the full video including the expansion announcement below.