MY 20 TOTALLY BIASED REASONS WHY ULTIMA ONLINE WAS THE GREATEST MMORPG EVER MADE. That’s a title fit for Buzzfeed if I ever heard one. I woke up and the first thing that I thought of was Ultima Online, and I hadn’t played that game in over 10 years, that’s how amazing that game was. This list is based on my experience before 2004, so don’t go out and buy it. So hunker down and take a trip down memory lane with me. 1. House Sieges The original Siege was when a bunch of unaffiliated people would camp outside a house and murder everyone that came out and also tried to push their way in. This was usually done for no purpose other than exacting revenge on a group of douchebags. Often the house would be without any items of value and all resources stored there would be depleted by the time you over took the house. Even more amazing is that house owners could easily locked their doors and teleported away, but instead held their ground so that they can also murder people for their gear. 2. House Placing One of the most unique experiences in any MMORPG or game for that matter is the dreadful house placement battle. The reason that only UO has done this is because it was such a beautiful disaster. One day all the land in UO was open for house placement and one day EVERY SINGLE PLAYER was logged into the server. Just the sheer number of players on at one time was enough to have the server be dreadfully unstable, but now you have every player placing houses into existence out of thin air sending players to essentially DDoS attacking the server after they crashed. It was a painful shit show, but when you logged back in and saw your house waiting, it was the most wonderful moment of your life. 3. House Decorating A lot of MMO’s these days just give players spaces to call their own and then ask you to put down money in order to decorated said spaces. UO had furniture, but you were pretty plain if that’s the route you went. Most of UO homes were decorated out of creativity and a lot of eye squinting, mind numbing monotony of placing regular items in a secret combination to create something entirely new. Never have I seen a stack of cloth look like a fish tank in any other game. 4. House Sitting There’s a communal thing about sitting on a house ready to be demolished. Because every square inch of the land was covered in houses, it was a server event whenever a house was about to be torn down. It is kind of like Detroit when people swoop in and start buying up houses/land. There were no timers on when the house would disappear, but everyone knew that it would be soon. You would call in guild mates to assist you. Everyone would have a house deed executed and ready for placement and for one lucky participant you would walk away with a brand new home. And as a consolation prize, you get to loot whatever the original house had, it’s a win-win situation. 5. Crafting No game has ever come close to the crafting system in UO. Crafting wasn’t something everyone did. It took a lot of time and a lot of work to become a craftsman. You had to dedicate your whole character to the arts, but it was worth it because UO was based around those who crafted. Because of the loot system, people fought in crafted equipment over dropped magic equipment and thus a good craftsman was essential to everyone. A maxed out craftsman also adhered their name on the equipment they made, making it known to all who the magnificent beast created such a beauty. Besides banks, blacksmith shops were the second most populated area because people depended on craftsman to repair and replace their equipment. In UO, being a great craftsman was equivalent to being a great PvPer. 6. Bank Sitting Oh the wonderfully simple pastime of bank sitting. There were no auction houses back in the UO days. If you wanted to buy/sell equipment you went to the bank. Britain Bank was essentially the marketplace in ancient Rome. People came from all across their lands to trade their. The high nobles would sit upon their Nightmares (black horses) and don their most rare garbs and the commoners would pass in awe. It was terribly lagging and you did your best to avoid the spot, but like the sun, Brit Bank had an immense gravitational force and you always ran through it just in case you saw something you never saw before. 7. Aesthetics The first game to introduce aesthetics. Because every person had basic crafted equipment it became imperative to set yourself apart. Clothing and color combinations became a very novel way to make yourself stand out or to associate with certain groups. What you wore said a lot about you. Wearing flashy colors usually meant you’re an attention whore, dual colors represented guilds, solid robes usually meant faction allegiance, solid grey meant you’re no stranger to death. People would also spend top dollar for combinations that were rare and it was all done purely for status and regard, none of this meant anything other than you spent countless hours farming cash and that you were in a place to splurge. Mind you this was all before micro-transactions, this might actually be the genesis of micro-transactions, WHAT HAVE WE DONE!? 8. Player Vendors So if you didn’t have an auction house and you didn’t want to bear the burden of bank sitting, what did you do? Well UO had a perfect answer, player vendors. All you had to do was place your items in these NPC vendors, set a price, and voila you can now sell without being present. This was another way of creating the perfect crafting system, now craftsman can run their own shops out of their home for people to visit. Being known as the Armor House or the Reagent House, etc., was a reputation no money could buy. 9. Stealing No MMO has ever done stealing correctly except for UO. UO allowed players to snoop into other players bags and steal items right under their noses. Hiding and Stealth are two separate skills that had to be mastered in order to become a truly good thief. It took patience and timing, skill and luck. It was an interesting mechanic especially when you could disguise yourself as an NPC and wander around almost unnoticeable (you still had to walk like an NPC to really blend in, a feat that took some time to master). Thieves worked together in order to hit a mark, it was an unspoken rule, it literally was, we just did it. 10. Rares Rares weren’t generally a thing until player demand for them skyrocketed. There were plenty of items that had very meager drop rates, but unless you have the demand to back it up, you weren’t holding anything special. Rares usually consisted of aesthetic items, things you would never use in the battlefield that made you look oh so rich. Or they consisted of items that would look super cool in a house as decoration. Just like the real world, most rare items are just eye candy to show off, the Picasso in the living room, the impractical sports car in the garage, the $15k watch, etc. It’s amazing how much you would spend on a special hue of blue just because it can’t be created with a dye tub. 11. Power Hour One interesting thing that was introduced in UO was the concept of a ‘Power Hour’, an attempt to get people playing more as well as assist the Casual Gamer. Power Hour was a boost to your skill gaining for one hour when you logged in. What was so interesting about it was how it created so much community around it. It was a designated time to log in and train with your friends and you stayed long after just shooting the shit. It created a time where you would check in with one another, strategize your next guild battle, trade with your friends, etc. It could have also been one massive placebo effect and there were no actual boosted skill gains, huh… 12. Skill/Attribute Training UO had a use based skill system, if you used the skill, you will gain in that skill. Many games try to instate that system to some degree, but it’s usually an afterthought and rarely does it affect the battle enough to matter. Same goes for Attributes (strength, dexterity, intelligence), you had to use skills in those areas in order to gain the attribute. You had to swing a heavy hammer endlessly to gain strength, a fencing weapon for dex, and do general smart stuff for intelligence (I was a warrior, I didn’t need Int). What this meant was you had to actually learn your skills in real life, you had to understand how the weapons worked and picked the best that worked for you. Instead of spending money to level up special abilities, you just had to go out and beat some stuff up. And if you made a wrong choice, guess what, you can just retain on a whim! No nickel and diming. 13. Skill Customization This leads me to the most amazing thing about UO, it was completely classless (without classification that is, though there were some classless people). You could master up to 7 skills and they could be any 7 skills you wanted. You could me an axe toting mage, a shield smashing blacksmith, you could even be absolutely worthless using skills that help no one, the point is the choice was yours. You would create special skill sets to give your character an edge in battle. It allowed for a lot of experimentation and since you didn’t have to pay money to respect, you could find the perfect build for yourself. 14. Factions Before factions, UO was a semi-lawless world where every man was out for themselves. When they introduced factions many people were skeptical and hesitant to try it out, but once it started catching on, it was the main stay of how people PvPed and has become the main building block for all MMOs to come. It turned house sieges into city sieges, it gave purpose and legalized in-city murdering, it gave purpose and direction to PvP, and it was fun! Faction wars in current MMOs are just for fighting and gear, but in UO you actually gained ground, you controlled cities, and you received benefits for that. You fight in factions in current MMOs because you have to to stay competitive, in UO you did it because it meant something intangible, it meant pride and accomplishment. 15. Reputation/Titles MMOs these day do reputation and titles all wrong. Today all you do is turn in a quest and suddenly you have a new title, not in UO. In UO your reputation and title was an accumulation of everything you’ve done since day one. Every monster you’ve killed, every apple you’ve stolen, every poisonous potion you applied to your weapon feeds into your reputation and title. Seeing someone who was a ‘Lord’ or ‘Lady’ meant they have done a lot of killing their days, that they weren’t someone to F with lightly. People rallied behind those of higher titles because it spoke to their time spent and skills gained in UO. It’s analogous to saying ‘My dad can beat up your dad’, my guild leader is a ‘Lord’, yours is a puny ‘Illustrious’. And what’s even more astounding is that keeping your title is harder than attaining it, any misstep can knock you down because there were no number you can watch to ensure you stayed at your title level. If you want to keep that Good title, you had better keep doing good. 16. Recalls/Gates/Travel UO wasn’t a large world considering what MMOs are doing these days and that was good. I don’t understand the fascination of creating ridiculously immense worlds these days, but I digress. UO had mounts, they were cheap, anyone could buy one and double their speeds without a fuss. Then if you were a mage you could create recall runes ANYWHERE in the world, and use your recall to go back there. You can’t do that in any MMO these days, and if you could it requires way too many resources to do so, in UO it’s a basic human right. You could also create Gates with these runes so that you and your friends can travel together. This created huge strategic advantages if used properly in PvP. In UO, they never thought travel was somehow an unfair advantage or as an opportunity to nickel and dime players for the convenience. 17. Death Penalty Oh beautiful death penalty, how I miss thee. When you died in UO all of your item dropped. This gives immediate rewards in PvP and again is synergistic with the amazing crafting system they had. Today games baby players, all items are kept and all you get is a temporary debuff. Sure that allows more players to PvP, but it also allows bad players to PvP and ruins the game for all the people who are genuinely trying to be victorious. The death penalty also raises the stakes so much higher in PvP, now you have something to lose but also something to gain. It pumps adrenaline into your veins as you chase down that guy who is SO CLOSE to dying or even when the tables are turned. Getting away or getting a kill was something to be proud of and it became addictive. Soon you start searching for Reds/Greys, joining Factions, or instigating Guild wars just so you can get another shot at a fight. 18. Weight Based Inventory Inventory these days make no sense, they are usually all slot based and that’s annoying. My bag is not large enough to pick up one god damn flower petal? Sounds legit! UO used a weight based system, you can carry all you want, but you can’t go over the limit without being encumbered. Sure it’s weird and unrealistic to be holding so many swords in your bag, but the idea is better and more flushed out than slots. It also introduced ways to fight against thieves by allowing you to stash tons of clothing to cover up your good items in your bags. You would rarely hit the weight limit unless you were gathering resources. The system complimented crafting so that you could spend all day crafting and staying still and never notice your bag was full. It complimented PvP where you can loot on quickly without worrying too much about hitting your limits. And all you needed was your main bag, none of this frivolous bag collecting side game that so many MMOs instate these days. 19. Player Created Advantages Most games these days will call player created advantages as cheats/hacks, in UO they were called strategies. I don’t get it, gamers these days spend no time learning the game and they want a playing field dumbed down for their own skill level. Wait I do get it, game companies want all the casual gamers money, but they end up with a shitty game that no one wants to play. In UO players have to get creative to stay competitive and keep and edge over their fellow players. Casting spells then equipping a shield for added protection, keeping bags that are trapped with a weak explosive to get out of paralyze spells, standing on gates to block escapes, these were all strategies in PvP and they were accepted by the Origin and embraced by the players. It also meant a lot of time spent outside of the game learning these tricks on message boards and whatnot which also meant a much richer community experience. 20. Macros If you ever played a game and heard the term macros, you probably have UO to thank. UO used a lot of keyboard short cuts to get work done in the game and Macros was a way to keep an edge in PvP but also just to make your life easier out of PvP. ‘Unattended’ macros were technically illegal in UO, but that did not stop the majority of players from using them. Even though this is considered the plague in games these days, in UO it was what you did. Anyone who uses macros or third party programs have much to thank UO for. Do you have other reasons why UO was the best MMORPG ever made that I didn’t mention above, let me know in the comments below!