The ultimate Ultima retrospective series has now covered Ultima 4 and Ultima 5

Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar Retrospective | Reimagining the RPG - YouTube Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar Retrospective | Reimagining the RPG - YouTube
Watch On

We previously pointed you in the direction of Majuular's Ultima retrospectives when he was only up to Ultima 3, but if you haven't watched them yet, well, now you've got even more catching up to because Ultima 4: Quest of the Avatar and Ultima 5: Warriors of Destiny have now been thoroughly retrospected upon in hour-plus videos combining history, analysis, and actually playing the games today.

You may well be familiar with the story of Ultima 4, a CRPG whose influence is still being felt today—it's the game responsible for all the Big Moral Choices other games have. But Ultima 5 is comparatively overlooked, a follow-up whose influence hasn't been traced as thoroughly, which makes Majuular's retrospective feel particularly worthwhile.

Ultima 5 is an early example of the "make it darker" sequel, a game that takes its predecessor's philosophy and starts pulling at the edges to see how it frays, as the sequels to Knights of the Old Republic, Monkey Island, and Baldur's Gate would attempt in later years. And like a lot of those games, there are places where it succeeds (thanks to the atmospheric shift of having you go from hero to outlaw), and places where it fails (like the infamous Child Room).

Majuular goes beyond the influence of these formative Ultimas on the western games that would follow them, and also traces Ultima's influence on the JRPG. It and Wizardry were the two series that found followings in Japan, leading to Dragon Quest and an entire alternate branch of the RPG family tree. 

The competition Ultima 5 faced in the west isn't skimped on either, and it's wild to think that it came out in the same year as Wasteland and Pool of Radiance—both of which would found competing CRPG dynasties. If you're a student of RPG history, this is definitely worth your time.

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.