Ultima IV nitpicks

“Thou art a thief and a scoundrel. Thou may not ever become an Avatar!”

You still have to be cautious when nitpicking Ultima IV, however, the fun now begins. Britannia is born, and Ultima has become an independent world without Science Fiction and corny Lord of the Rings elements like dwarves and elves. The terrific story about the eight Virtues and your own Self, that works without any evil opponent to be defeated, earns Ultima IV its place in the pantheon of roleplaying game history.
The computer techniques of 1985 didn’t allow Garriott to turn all of his ideas into reality. Dialogues are short and superficial, yet they possess more spirit and thoughtfulness than in Ultima IX. It’s up to the player to follow the Virtues. The Quest of the Avatar is forever. You aren’t a perfect and infallible hero. In Ultima IX, you may watch your Avatar saying things like “Stealing is wrong.” There’s not a single dialogue as awful in Ultima IV.
Also, Britannia is huge. Cities are seperated by swamps, rivers, mountains, and oceans. Compare this to Ultima IX, where you face the walls of Castle British when climbing a hill in Yew

Ignorance of predecessors

  • This inaccuracy starts in Ultima IV and is a central thread in later Ultimas: While in Ultima III, it was clear that Exodus was a machine, all later Ultimas display him as a kind of daemon.
    (by Tribun Dragon)
  • When you pick up the books and map in the intro, you can’t read the runes, and you do not dare to open the Book of Mystic Wisdom because you fear its power. But you already dealt with magic before (i.e. in Ultima III), and runic language shouldn’t be new to you either.
    (Obviously, this nitpick is valid only if you agree with Ultima VI and its descendents, which claim the Stranger and the Avatar are the same person.)
    (by Flash)
  • The manual of Ultima III said that magicians used a “Stygian Abyss” for their final tests. In Ultima IV, we see that this Abyss is closed and can only be opened with Book, Candle, and Bell. Something’s not right here.
    (by Natreg Dragon)

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Technical shortcomings

  • What the heck is so bad about normal torches that you get them only in illegal guild shops? (A sick product of Britannian legislation.)
    (by Tribun Dragon)
  • Isn’t it strange that all herbalists in Britannia are blind?
    (by Tribun Dragon)
  • The Kill spell works against all creatures, even undead ones. This clearly contradicts the Book of Mystic Wisdom, which says about the Kill spell:

    1. “As the last syllable of the chant fades, all of the target’s vital organs shall cease to function for the space of seven heartbeats.”
    2. “It is easier to Dispel a field of vibrant energy than it is to stop the functioning of a living being.”

    You could argue that this is caused by an engine limitation. However, you must point out that the Undead spell works only on undead beings. The Kill spell could easily have been programmed to work on all creatures except undead ones.

    (by Flauschepelz)

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General problems

  • Dupre is the mayor of Trinsic? I wonder if it’s considered virtuous for the mayor in the city of Honor to hang around in the tavern all the time and join the next wandering stranger to a risky adventure... (The people of Trinsic obviously got tired of him soon and voted him out of office, because Dupre fortunately isn’t mayor anymore in later Ultimas.)
    (by Hacki Dragon)
  • Scatu in the Lycaeum wears Mystic Armor, and says you can only find it if you are an eight-part Avatar. So why didn’t he try to get the Book, Candle, and Bell himself, and why isn’t he interested in finding the Codex?
    (by Shadow of Light Dragon)
  • How was Scatu able to achieve all eight parts of Avatarhood anyway? You needed the runes for this, in order to medidate at the shrines, and the Stranger was the first to find all the runes. The manual also claims there are some who have already achieved partial Avatarhood... without runes? Are those used by the Stranger used ones by any chance?
    (by Tribun Dragon)
  • Azure in Minoc says his job is to carve runes for passage to the shrines. Aren’t they unique? Although that would explain a number of other flaws, it would also contradict all subsequent Ultimas. Besides: If it’s true, then why does the player in Ultima IV only find one rune each?
    (by Hacki Dragon)
  • How exactly is the Stranger taken to Britannia at the beginning of the game? Obviously, the scents of the gypsy befuddle him - But what happens then? Does she carry him to the next moongate?
    (Well, OK, maybe this nitpick is a bit on the hard side.)
    (by Tribun Dragon)

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You discovered a nitpick not yet listed on this site? Send it to me! You are also welcome to use the message board for discussions about nitpicks.

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Name des Betreibers: Christian Hackl
Wohnort: Kapfenberg

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