The full press release:
ULTIMA ONLINE: SAMURAI EMPIRE HAS GONE GOLD
Fans Who Pre-Order Game Offered Incentive
Electronic Arts announced that Ultima Online: Samurai Empire went gold today. The highly-anticipated expansion pack for Ultima Online is on schedule to release on November 2, 2004.
"We are right on track to deliver this exciting new experience to our fans next month," said Anthony Castoro, producer of Ultima Online at EA. "We're thrilled because we're giving players everything they ask from a new expansion, new professions, lands, skills and housing options. Beyond that, we've also added a unique locale and culture to Ultima Online, the exotic Tokuno Islands, a land of Samurai and Ninja."
EA is offering fans an exciting incentive to sign up for Ultima Online: Samurai Empire early. Consumers who pre-order the game will receive a Soulstone, an amazing in-game device that will give them the power to store or move skill points from one character to another. A Soulstone offers a great deal of flexibility in managing characters' abilities without losing the skill points players worked so hard to earn. In addition to the EA Store, players can pre-order the game online from Electronics Boutique, Gamestop and Amazon.com. More information on the Soulstone can be found at http://www.uo.com/soulstone.
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 combat abilities. These skills include Lightning Strike, a ferocious attack with a significant hit bonus; Whirlwind, where a Samurai's power increases as the number of enemies he's fighting multiply; and Honorable Execution, an attempt to eliminate an enemy with a single mighty blow.
Players also have the choice of joining the elite ranks of the Ninja, where they will concentrate on magical combat and stealth. The Ninja player will master many deadly arts that include Smoke Bomb, which they use to make themselves disappear. By using Animal Form, Ninjas can turn into seemingly harmless creatures like wolves and serpents, allowing them to move freely among their enemies. With the Mirror Image skill, Ninjas can confuse their enemies by creating up to four mirror images of themselves.
In addition to becoming either a Samurai or Ninja, players will have new house customization themes and decorations to use as they build new homes or modify existing homes. For instance, players can start by constructing a simple dojo and then build it into a massive Japanese-themed castle. The adventurous will be rewarded with a vast array of new Japanese-inspired items such as weapons, armor, clothing and house tiles.