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Ultima Online Expansion Goes All... Samurai? 36

Thanks to Yahoo for reprinting an EA press release announcing the Ultima Online: Samurai Empire add-on, a "new expansion pack" for the long-running PC MMO title. According to the release: "Traveling around a mysterious Asian environment filled with exotic beasts, expansive dungeons and scenic housing areas, players can strive to become a fierce Samurai, dedicated to the art of Bushido and focused on learning new physical combat abilities.... Players also have the choice of joining the elite ranks of the Ninja, where they will concentrate on magical combat and stealth." UO Stratics has both concept art and screenshots from the newly-announced expansion, quite a thematic departure from "the European high fantasy" of the original title, and "scheduled to ship November 2004." We recently covered both Ultima Online's 7th anniversary and the cancellation of Ultima X: Odyssey.
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Ultima Online Expansion Goes All... Samurai?

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  • Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kirsha ( 201264 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @12:14AM (#9713735)
    Samurai's and ninjas? Is there any mention of such oriental themes in the previous Ultima games? Seems to me like something out of place for Britannia...
    • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jeff Reed ( 209535 )
      It's probably a cheap attempt to cash in on anime fanboys and South Korea. I suspect it won't really add anything to the gameplay and will basically be a glorified graphics pack.

      But hey, it sure beats actually developing a new game in the series!
      • I don't see anything about this that South Koreans would find especially appealing. The culture emphasized here is aggressively Japanese-only, and most of the other Pacific Rim cultures don't identify with the Japanese any more than they do with Western high fantasy. I figure everyone in South Korea who wants to play UO is probably already playing it, or just playing Ragnarok Online instead.

        I am completely mystified as to why this was made instead of a new UO game, and who they think the target audience fo
        • I have heard direct from the UO team that the Japanese shard is one of their most popular, so apparently they are trying to cater to that audience with more targetet content
          • Egh. I'd think the way to do targeted content would be to bring Japanese developers on-board. This stuff... presenting it to a Japanese audience strikes me as like Squaresoft populating a game targeted at Americans with caricatured cowboys and indians.

            'course, I am not Japanese, so who knows, maybe the players will eat it up. Certainly, Americans would be all over a cowboys & indians Squaresoft title, and probably find any stereotyping in it amusingly quaint.
    • the new land introduced by this expansion is the Feudal Lands which were originally brought up way back in Ultima I. kinda forgotten since then, but there is a basis they can work with at least.
  • Cashing In (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dancingmad ( 128588 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @12:22AM (#9713756)
    I'm no huge fan of the series but it seems like Ultima is trying to capitalize on how cool Japanese stuff is in America these days. I'm sure it will be a shallow attempt to cash in.

    For a real fun Japanese experience, VM Japan [], from Falcom is a cool Japanese mythology based tactical RPG for the PC. I still enjoy a game of PC RTS Shogun Total War (the developers aren't Japanese but they put a LOT of research into the history), which was the first Total War game.
  • by xanderwilson ( 662093 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @12:23AM (#9713759) Homepage
    There was a trend a decade or two back in paper-and-dice RPGs when everyone was headed "East." Some of it successful, some boring. I wasn't into Vampire but their Kindred of the East book blew me away.

    I figure there's two ways to really screw this up: repackage same old paradigms to look exotic, or bore players with stereotypes from film and TV. Concept art looks good except for the cut and paste "screenshot."

  • by Ohreally_factor ( 593551 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @01:39AM (#9714045) Journal
    This shouldn't be a foreign concept to the /. crowd.
  • Japanese market? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dammitallgoodnamesgo ( 631946 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @01:48AM (#9714076)
    EA have been trying to break the Japanese market for a while now (and failing) - I know that I've seen some very prominant adverts for FOMA UO, which is coming soon, and I suspect that Ultima Online has a certain amount of mindshare amongst MMORPG players here - I've seen a few guides for it in the walkthroughs section of shops. It's possible they wanted to encourage the Japanese market by making them feel at home.
    • Re:Japanese market? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by yakitori ( 764634 )
      The last couple years, there has been increased emphasis on the Japanese market in UO. From the major localization changes a couple years ago to this new expansion coming out soon. It would be safe to wager that possibly 30-40% of the subscription base of UO is located in Japan (of about 200k+ subscribers). If a player hopped onto any of the Japanese servers, they can quickly see they are far more active than most of the American servers (shards). Of course, FFXI is eating away slowly at that base, but
  • by PD ( 9577 ) * <> on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:12AM (#9714164) Homepage Journal
    It was either go samurai, or go commando. I think they made a wise decision.
  • by MMaestro ( 585010 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:17AM (#9714183)
    MMORPGs are designed to be join in, get hooked, and dig in for the long haul systems. The addition of an expansion clearly aimed at Asian markets (I didn't play Ultima 7, 8, or 9 but I'm guessing ninjas and samurais weren't in them) probably won't garner much success. After all, why switch to a 7 year old game just for an expansion when you can pick up a copy of the 2 year old Final Fantasy XI which already features ninjas and samurais?
    • and looks 100 times better at that and can be played on a PS2 too. On another note, I play FFXI and not only can you be a Ninja or Samurai (you have to quest to get the job type though, its not a starting class) but the Beastmen enemys you face can ALSO be those job types too.... not cool when you get a sam or nin special attack done to you
    • (I didn't play Ultima 7, 8, or 9 but I'm guessing ninjas and samurais weren't in them)

      Definitely no ninjas in U7 (didn't make it any less of a Great Game, though), and while U7pt2 had quite a few assassins there probably aren't any ninjas in it (I'm only halfway through though), I'd guess not in U8 (though I haven't really played much that either), and I can only hope not in U9 (which I've only played a little bit so far).

      Hope that's a satisfactory answer? =)

  • Hmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by skinfitz ( 564041 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:58AM (#9714271) Journal
    At the risk of being called a troll, the GUI for UO is so shit how could anyone tell if a character is a samurai or anything for that matter?

    I think they are LONG past due on graphics improvement (the crappy GUI is the reason I cancelled my account after 10 minutes of play after being convinced to join by a friend). I know about the UOX plans and cancellation etc. but lets hope they go ahead with what I've heard and plumb in the UOX engine into UO proper. I think I'd sign up then.
  • Yeah, that's BS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ryanr ( 30917 ) * <> on Friday July 16, 2004 @03:59AM (#9714400) Homepage Journal
    If they want to expand the genre a little, add the space weapons and travel back in.

    This is 20-something years now I've been playing the Ultimas. EA finish screwing it over, and give it back to Richard, please.
  • I'm also an "old school" Ultima fan playing II, III,and IV back in the day.

    While I admit I haven't really played any of the newer games and haven't even looked at UO, I must admit that this expansion both makes me curious but also makes me disapointed.

    It doesn't seem that they are updating it enough and the only logical sucessors to UO have been canceled. (UO2 and UX:O).

    What I want to know is, are UO player numbers increasing? or has 7 years of running taken its toll?

    And doesn't EA realise that maybe co
  • by Anonymous Coward
    scheduled to ship November 2004

    Which really means, it's scheduled to be cancelled by September 2004 since it's MMO releated.
  • I tried Ultima a long time ago and ended up getting a refund after the 30-day trial. UO at that time was a haven for griefers, and there were no dividing lines that would really keep newbies safe from an immediate "Corp Por" death as soon as they ventured out of the city for the first time.

    In that respect, EQ was a much more inviting game (and one that kept me involved for several years). UO had promise, but at least in the early phases they really let the griefers/macroers run away with the game.


  • I still have an account @ are some details.

    Griefing has been removed by the fact that pvp is not allowed on 3 of the 4 parts of each server - if you go to the pvp part, you might get punked.

    I still like UO cause it has a lot of content & loot. If you want the old school pure pvp ultima you can play on the Siege Perilous server which is 100% pvp.

    The interface is so old...damn. I recently logged out of UO and played SWG - its like interface shock or something =).

    Im not a fanboi of UO - but
  • As long as I can get a Japanese school girl outfit in the expansion, and wear it around, I'm game!
  • I see all these threads about how this is a cheap attempt to cash in on the latest Japanese fad in America.

    These people are failing to take into account that there is a HUGE asian MMORPG market. Far larger than anything we have here in America. So it would seem they are merely making an attempt to cater to that market with little R&D costs on their side, and if they pick up the Japan fans in America, so much the better.

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