Ultima III: Exodus
||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (August 2012)|
|Ultima III: Exodus|
|Composer(s)||Ken Arnold (home computers)
Gotō Tsugutoshi (NES)
|Engine||Ultima III engine|
|Release date(s)||August 23, 1983|
|Genre(s)||Role-playing video game|
Ultima III: Exodus is the third game in the Ultima series. Exodus is also the name of the game's principal antagonist. Released in 1983, it was the first Ultima game published by Origin Systems. Originally developed for the Apple II, Exodus was eventually ported to 13 other platforms, including the NES/Famicom.
Exodus features revolutionary graphics for its time, being the first computer RPG to display animated characters. Also, Exodus differs from previous games in that players now direct the actions of a party of four characters rather than just one. Players now battle groups of enemies on a separate battle screen, where the player has to understand weapons and magic systems and employ rudimentary tactics in order to overcome each opponent, as opposed to the system in the previous two games, in which the player is simply depicted as trading blows with one opponent on the main map until either is defeated. Enemies on the overworld map can be seen and avoided, whilst enemies in a dungeon appear randomly without any forewarning.
The party of four that you get is chosen in the beginning of the game. You choose between 11 classes which are as follows: Fighter, Paladin, Cleric, Wizard, Ranger, Thief, Barbarian, Lark, Illusionist, Druid, and Alchemist. Each class has a specified race between 5 different races. The default race for each class is the recommended race, but this can be edited along with attribute points for each character. The races determine stat growth; some races allow certain stats to be maxed out while others limit the stats to half the allowed amount. Certain stats such as wisdom and intelligence determine what spells casters are able to obtain.
For the most part, all the classes are built around the 4 main classes with very minor differences; the 4 main classes are Fighter, Cleric, Wizard, and Thief. Fighter type classes are strong in melee and in defense, but have no spells or abilities, and can equip most armor and weapons. The Thief type classes are good at resisting traps that may be in dungeons or in chests and are limited in what weapons and armor they can equip. Cleric type classes have healing spells and spells strong against undead and are limited to cloth armor and staffs/maces. Wizard type classes have strong offensive type spells and are limited to cloth armor and staffs.
Character leveling is individual, so leveling up your characters evenly is a good idea due to bigger stronger monsters appearing. Not leveling your characters evenly can result in the weaker characters dying easily in battles. One thing that is common is wizard and cleric types outleveling the melee types because they have area of effect attacks and ranged attacks that allow them to kill enemies well before the melee types can even get to the enemy. The maximum level for your characters is 25 although you don't need to reach it in order to beat the game. When a character has the needed experience, they must talk to Lord British for the character to level up.
One of the key items in the game that you must have is food. You have to frequently buy food at the grocery store and then share it among your party. If a character's food gets low, he will start taking damage from movement, much like being poisoned. Food depletes from walking around, but can also be stolen by goblins in dungeons.
Aside from the ability to talk to townspeople there are other commands that can be used on them; some of the commands have to be earned in order to use them. Some of the commands you can use are bribe, steal, and fight. Bribing can be used to make certain guards go away from their post. Steal can be used on townspeople and some enemies, but can result in a fight with townspeople if caught. Fight does pretty much what it says it does; you can choose to fight someone, though killing a townsperson will invoke the guards to chase after you, which always come in parties of 8 and are very strong, so maybe not a good idea to do unless you're high level. You can also choose to fight Lord British, but he cannot be killed, this would involve a long drawn out fight which you will ultimately lose.
Unlike the two previous Ultima games, which had wire-frame first-person dungeons, Exodus' dungeons are solid-3D in appearance and integrated into the game's plot. Dungeons are foreboding mazes that can take a long time to navigate but are necessary to obtain certain marks that are needed to get through the game. One noticeable characteristic of dungeons are the monsters in them. The monsters are not based on your level as the overworld monsters are, so going into certain dungeons may be too hard for you at first. There are many chests inside dungeons and most of them are trapped. Aside from chests and marks, inside of dungeons are also fountains; some heal and others poison you. Most of the futuristic aspects of the game seen in the previous installments are gone, including flying vehicles, time machines, and spaceships.
There are three modes of travel in the game, on foot, horseback, and boat. Getting around on foot is slow and can often lead to monsters catching up to you. Horseback gives you the advantage of moving faster while consuming less food, making getting away from unwanted fights easier. Horses can only be bought from a few towns and are generally expensive. Getting a boat can be tricky; it requires you to reach a certain level for pirates to start appearing and then you have to find a pirate boat in the water, waiting patiently for them to come next to the coast so you can attack and defeat them, resulting in you receiving their boat.
By denying the player the ability to see what's behind mountain peaks, forests, and walls, the maps can now contain many small surprises such as hidden treasure, secret paths, and out-of-the-way informants. The look of the game is no longer based on certain characteristics of the Apple II hardware; it is rather a carefully designed screen layout.
Beating the game requires the player to get all four marks and all four prayer cards. Once you get to the altar of Exodus, you place the cards, and thus defeat Exodus.
After Ultima II: The Revenge of the Enchantress was set on Earth, the story of Exodus centers on a quest back in Sosaria, the world of Ultima. The player's mission is to destroy the final remnant of the evil Mondain and Minax. The game is named for its chief villain, Exodus, a creation of Minax and Mondain that the series later describes as neither human nor machine. Although, Exodus appears on the cover of the game as a Demonic figure, it is not encountered at the game's end as such, and is never exactly clear what it is.
At the beginning of the game, Exodus is terrorizing the land of Sosaria from his stronghold on the Isle of Fire (known as Fire Island in Ultima Online). The player character is summoned by Lord British to defeat Exodus and embarks on a quest that takes him to the lost land of Ambrosia, to the depths of the dungeons of Sosaria to receive powerful magical branding marks and to find the mysterious Time Lord, and finally to the Isle of Fire itself to confront Exodus in his lair.
The game ends immediately upon Exodus' defeat; but unlike many games in the genre, Exodus cannot simply be killed in battle by a strong party of adventurers, but only through clever puzzle-solving and by paying attention to the many clues given throughout the game. At the end of the game, players were instructed to "REPORT THY VICTORY!" to Origin. Those who did so received a certificate of completion autographed by Richard Garriott.
Although this is the last game in the series to take place in Old Sosaria, places in the game such as Ambrosia and the Isle of Fire make cameo appearances in later games, namely Ultima VII.
Ultima III was the first game in the series published by Richard Garriott's company Origin Systems. Numerous ports appeared on many different systems. Below is a complete list of the various systems Ultima III: Exodus has appeared on along with some differences between them.
|Apple II||1983||Origin Systems||
|Atari 800||1983||Origin Systems||
|Commodore 64||1983||Origin Systems||
|IBM PC||1983||Origin Systems||
|Atari ST||1986||Origin Systems||
|NES/Famicom||1988||Origin Systems/FCI/Pony Canyon||
|MSX2 - Cartridge||1988||Origin Systems/Pony Canyon||
|MSX2 - 3.5" Disk||1989||Origin Systems/Pony Canyon||
- *The publisher Starcraft has no relation to the video game StarCraft and went out of business in 1996.
Reception and legacy
Softline stated that Ultima III "far surpasses" its predecessors, praising the "masterfully unified" plot and individual tactical combat. The magazine concluded that the game "upgrades the market; in several ways it sets new standards for the fantasy gaming state of the art. Happily, it also shows us a maturing artistic discipline on the part of its imaginative author". Computer Gaming World called Ultima III "unquestionably the best in the series so far ... many hours of enjoyment (and frustration!)", although it criticized the ending as anticlimactic. The magazine later reviewed the Macintosh version. It complimented its graphics but criticized the audio, and stated that the game did not adequately use the computer's user interface, describing using the mouse as "aggravating". The review concluded "Even though the Mac conversion is far from ideal, Ultima III is a very enjoyable game, and well worth its hefty price". Compute! stated that Ultima III "ushers in an exciting new era of fantasy role-playing. The combination of superb graphics, music, and excellent playability makes Exodus a modern-day masterpiece". It noted the cloth map and the extensive documentation, the "thrilling" 3-D dungeons, the game's use of time, and the spell system. The magazine concluded, "Lord British has outdone himself with his latest work of art ... a delight to play". INFO stated that "Lord British's latest offering is also his best ... Many wonderful hours will be spent unravelling its secrets". The Chicago Tribune called Ultima III "one of the best" computer games, providing "an epic adventure which can last for months".
Exodus is credited as a game that laid the foundation for the role-playing video game genre, influencing games such as Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy. In turn, Exodus was itself influenced by Wizardry, which Richard Garriot credited as the inspiration behind the party-based combat in his game.
Over 120,000 copies of Ultima III were sold, and Video magazine listed the game seventh on its list of best selling video games in March 1985 with II Computing listing it fifth on the magazine's list of top Apple II games as of late 1985, based on sales and market-share data. In 1984 Softline readers named the game the third most-popular Apple and eighth most-popular Atari program of 1983. It won the Adventure Game of the Year prize in Computer Gaming World's 1985 reader poll, about which the editors wrote "Although Ultima III has been out well over a year, we feel that it is still the best game of its kind." With a score of 7.55 out of 10, in 1988 Ultima III was among the first members of the Computer Gaming World Hall of Fame, honoring those games rated highly over time by readers. In 1996, the magazine ranked it as the 144th best game of all time, featuring "one of the nastiest villains to grace a computer screen."
The demon figure that appeared on the front of the box caused some religious fundamentalists to protest. They made accusations that the game was corrupting the youth of America and encouraging Satan worshiping. This, along with other factors, led Richard Garriott to develop his next game (Ultima IV) based on the virtues the Ultima series is now famous for.
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