To help ring in Ultima Online's 20th year of existence, the team at Rock, Paper, Shotgun is highlighting a restrospective they wrote back in 2015 for its 18th annivesary. While the article might be two years old at this point, it's still just as valid today and spotlights why there are still so many players enjoying the game after two full decades:
I wasn’t sure how different UO could actually be, in spite of its status as one of the first MMORPGs. It turns out that while it definitely felt familiar in places, as its DNA has been passed to those games followed, UO is altogether something stranger. I’ve seen incredible things in the last 10 days with Ultima Online, perhaps more exciting things than I’ve encountered in my first few days with any other MMO.
Creating a character is always one of my favourite parts of picking up a new MMORPG. It’s unfortunate that Ultima Online immediately shows its age by giving you only a smattering of cosmetic options, but I liked the look of every character class.
But what keeps players coming back time after time when there are so many different MMOs floating around?
“[Ultima] endures because it is diverse, appealing to many different people with many different play types and makes no demands,” says Petra Fyde. “Basically you do what you want, when you want, if you want. You don’t have to commit to hours online while undertaking a ‘raid’. You can log in for 10 minutes and still feel you’ve achieved something. It endures because players have ‘ownership’ of property, they have houses which they have built and furnished, they ‘live’ in UO. There’s a sense of presence here.”