I guess I couldn’t stay away from Britannia for too long, although the game tells me it’s been 200 years.
I’ve started playing Ultima VII: The Black Gate, easily the most well regarded of the entire Ultima series. I considered playing through one of the Worlds of Ultima games first, but I was a bit tired of the Ultima VI game engine.
And right away I’m reminded of why I’ve stalled on this game so many times in the past. It starts off with a severe and tedious need to grind. There are so many things you need to buy at the beginning of the game, and yet getting enough money is difficult unless you know where all the secrets and tricks to make money fast. Making it worse is the need to keep feeding yourself and all of your companions, lest you actually starve to death, so you constantly have to buy, steal or hunt for food. If doing tedious work just to make ends meat was my idea of fun, I wouldn’t be playing video games.
The simulated world is truly impressive, and way ahead of its time. But there are pitfalls to this as well. Because of the day/night cycle and the unique schedules of all the non-player characters, you’re really at the mercy of the game clock, and it reduces the enjoyment of simply exploring, developing your characters and solving quests.
Fast forward 20 years, and a game like Xenoblade Chronicles has solved all of these problems. Thank goodness for progress.
Speaking of which, I’m still holding off on playing Xenoblade, as viewing it on a standard definition TV set makes the text really difficult to read. So until I can correct that issue, Xenoblade will be sitting on the back burner for a little bit longer.
As for Ultima VII, I’m going to forge ahead with it for now, and see how far I can get without a walkthrough (although I still intend to look things up as needed). I think I’m starting to hit a stride with it, so maybe things will move along a bit more smoothly.