Ultima VIII: Pagan is the ninth installment of the main series and the thirteenth in the entire series, if the Worlds of Ultima games and Ultima Underworld I and II are counted. It was released and published by Origin for the IBM-PC in 1994. It is part of the "Age of Armageddon" saga.
While technically, the game is well-developed compared to Ultima VII Part Two, with full digital sound and better music, even more realistic graphics and a simple physics engine, the gameplay did not sit well with many of the fans of the series. The Avatar is again alone, with no party. The game is much more action-oriented than the other Ultimas. The world is smaller, with fewer characters, there are no portraits and less dialogue. The whole jumping-issue even caused Origin to write a patch. However, the positive aspect of the game is the story. The story is very mature, and deals with the dilemma that in order to escape, the Avatar, and therefore the player, has to accept that some evil things have to be done for the greater good.
Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
The Avatar is abducted by the Guardian at the end of Ultima VII Part Two and brought to this world, Pagan. Declaring that the Avatar would never manage to escape from it, the Guardian gloats that Britannia would be his very soon, then drops the Avatar into the sea.
Pagan is an inhospitable world. The Guardian had mostly destroyed it many centuries ago with four of his underlings, Elemental Titans. But the people have no idea that the Guardian is responsible for their enslavement. In fact, they see the Guardian and the Titans as saviours! The Avatar learns that the four Titans hold an iron grip over the world. In order to escape, he learns all the magic schools, after consulting the Gods of Old. Gathering five special pieces of Blackrock, the Avatar uses them to destroy the Titans and unlock enormous powers in himself. Using the fragments, a Black Gate opens, allowing him to return to Britannia.
Upon arriving in Britannia however, he is shocked to see that the Guardian seems to have already conquered the land.
Spoilers end here.
Ultima VIII: Pagan was exclusively produced for the IBM-PC, therefore other official ports of the game do not exist.
Richard Garriott admitted that it had been bad for the game to be on a deadline, with three months too few to finish it. Many elements from the original plot had been cut from the final product, to rush the game out on deadline. This caused several dead ends, plot threads being incomplete etc. See Plot Cuts in Ultima VIII.
An enhanced CD-ROM edition was also in the works. It would have provided character portraits, full speech for every character, graphical improvements and other features. In the end it was cancelled for same reason as The Lost Vale (see below).
The music in this game is the most persuasive of the series. It is very dark and chilling, and well reflects the bleakness of Pagan and the cynicism of its populace and other beings, in stark contrast to Britannia. Credits for this composition go to Nenad Vugrinec (as Neno Vugrinec). This was his only contribution to Ultima music.
Ultima VIII was translated to several languages, including German, French and Spanish.
Ultima VIII was seen as a disappointment by many fans, and is generally seen as a step back in the series in general. It was, however, the most successful game in the series in term of sales, as it brought many new people to Ultima.
The game was later included in the Ultima Collection (1998).
Included with the game
The release of Ultima VIII included these things with the game:
- The book The Chronicle of Pagan
- A cloth map of Pagan in Ultima VIII
- A Pentagram Coin
- Main article: Speech Pack
Ultima VIII included a limited amount of spoken dialogue, however, due to the size constraints of floppy discs, this speech was not included on the floppy disc version of the game. A disc advertised as the Speech Pack was sold separately; however, because it was expensive and added little to the game, it sold poorly. The CD-ROM version of Ultima VIII came with speech already in it and wasn't significantly more expensive than the floppy disc version, making the Speech Pack's value even more questionable.
The Lost Vale
- Main article: The Lost Vale
It was planned that there would be a add-in disk for Ultima VIII, The Lost Vale. The big doors found on the Plateau in Pagan most likely were planned to be the entrance. However, Electronic Arts, disappointed with the poor sales of Ultima VIII, pulled the plug on the project. Only some screenshots and the box design survived.
Ultima VIII is very difficult to run on modern computers. Some fan-made upgrades try to address this problem.
Pentagram, a project still in development, is attempting to solve all the problems Ultima VIII has to be played on modern systems. This would make the game fully playable under various operating systems, namely Windows, GNU/Linux and MacOS X.
Ultima 8 for Windows
Ron Windeyer (aka Gaseous Dragon) has written a utility to run Ultima VIII on Windows operating systems. See his website for more information.
GOG.com has the whole Ultima series for sale, it has been made to run in a self installed dosbox enviroment, some of the games will also run on a Mac.
- For bugs in this game, see Ultima VIII Bugs.
- For easter eggs and real-life references in this game, see Ultima VIII Real-life references and easter eggs.
- For nitpicks for this game, see Ultima VIII Nitpicks.
- The game also has the not-so-kind nickname "Super Avatar Bros.", speaking negative of all the running and jumping passages in the game, which frustrated many players.
- The Pentagram on the cover and in the game offended some religious people, forcing Origin to add some lines concerning this to the documentation.
- On April 28, 2015, Origin gave Ultima VIII:Pagan Gold Edition for free as part of the In The House project.
- Ultima 8 for Windows
- Pentagram website
- The collectible Ultima-Ultima VIII
- Nitpicks for Ultima VIII
- The Other Codex-Ultima VIII
- Ultima Aiera Ultima VIII resources