Broadsword has been putting the final touches on Ultima Online’s 97th publish all month, and as of yesterday, the release is on the guinea pig shards, which means the full launch isn’t far away, though Broadsword is still saying “later this month.”
The core of the update is a massive overhaul of the animal taming system, which has been one of the dominant skill sets in the game since its original launch. Expect 20 new tameable creatures (some of which are new to the game), new hues for existing critters, a new quest, and tons of new options for training pets in different skills and schools. The downside is that all the extra damage output will be met with a hefty nerf for pets in PvP.
Ultima Online turns 20 this autumn and will celebrate with a real-life party near Washington, DC. Since someone’s gonna ask: The studio has said repeatedly that it has no plans to go free-to-play. The planned Steam launch, however, was held up by EA’s “final approval” and at this point looks unlikely.