Dino's Guide to
Ultima VIII - Pagan

Ultima 8 was a very controversial game, and many people had differing opinions. Many complained that it was too action-based, others argued that too much was cut out of the plot, and there were others that liked it as it was.

Here is the place to read what other people said and share your opinion.


These are some opinions about Ultima 8 that appeared on gaming sites and the like.

Gamespot: The Ultima Legacy (Internet Archive) speaks of Ultima 8: "The world of Pagan was as different as the game itself, and Ultima returned to its hack-and-slash roots with the Avatar fighting alone once more. Inexplicably frustrating action elements, including difficult jumping puzzles and oversimplified combat, as well as conspicuous holes in the plot, infuriated those who were already flustered by Serpent Isle. The Avatar also became male in Pagan, eliminating the choice of gender presented in all Ultimas before it. But those who put up with Ultima VIII's radically different gameplay discovered that it, too, bore the traits of its predecessors: a plot that questions the Avatar's morals - one that forces him to harm the people of Pagan by overthrowing their elemental providers."

"In spite of its merits, no title in all of the series was frowned upon quite so much as Ultima VIII."

On the same website, Richard Garriott says (Internet Archive): "With Ultima VIII, I wanted to be even more severe with the sinister elements. That's where your character went off to the land of Pagan, which was the Guardian's home world. This world wasn't your standard, virtuous goody-goody-two-shoes setting, to the point where if you tried to uphold the goody-goody-two-shoes life in the game, you couldn't get anywhere. The challenge was that you had to stay true to your core personal beliefs without totally ransacking the place to achieve your ends and work with the system that was there. The storyline is basically one of those "sometimes you have to fight fire with fire" stories where, when you're faced with true evil, you've got to cheat in order to win."

On the third page of the Gamespy February 2003 interview with Richard Garriott (Internet Archive), he says: "The counsel -- and sometimes it was more than just counsel -- I would get from EA was that the schedule was the dominant issue. Once we started down the path on Ultima 8, I decided I would be a good corporate citizen and walk the walk and talk the talk. And as Ultima 8 got into scheduling trouble, as every Ultima always did, rather than make a decision as we had in the past to hold the game until it was polished, we began to cut things out to stay on schedule. And we cut and we cut and we cut and the game that was finally released was not only shipped early even for the cut version (and therefore buggy), but also had its guts ripped out as far as being an Ultima."

"It's really sad because there are parts of it I think were done very well, in the sense that the tile graphics and the foundation were outstanding. It had by far the most detailed character animation of any game to date. It was way ahead of its time in many years, but just wasn't a complete game."

Mobygames - Ultima VIII - Pagan description reads: "Gameplay in Ultima 8 is more action-oriented than in previous Ultima games. The Avatar is able to jump and climb and some puzzles are based on these abilities. Combat is in real-time and also based on your dexterity. There are four different magic systems in the game."

You can read further opinions about Ultima 8 at the following forum topics:

Public Opinions

Posting has been disabled due to spam. If you want to post an opinion, please contact me directly. I will add your post myself.

These are the opinions available so far:

William's opinion (18 July 2006):
Ultima VII P 1&2 totally storm Ultima VIII. I just can't think of an aspect of Ultima VIII that didn't suck big time, except maybe the storyline. I would love to see some conversion a-la Exult thaugh, just to give this game another chance. Overall it was an unfinished game that was ahead of his time, that could have set a milestone in videogames, but failed (very) short due to a pathetic gameplay. So sad...
Harishankar's opinion (13 July 2006):
I started this game after a long time since I first played it. Luckily Dosbox in Linux holds the key and it works beautifully (if a touch slowly).

This is one of my favourite RPG/Adventure games and even after playing and finishing Diablo, this game seems to be much deeper than Diablo. Diablo was a lot more about fighting and the plotline is wafer thin. Pagan Ultima VIII may be more linear than modern RPG titles, but it has enough depth to hold its own.

What more can I say? This is an eerily creepy game even today. In particular the caves and the journeys through the catacombs are truly chilling and thrilling.
Ishimori's opinion (15 June 2006):
I began playing the Ultima Series on my C64 when I was 14 with part V - Ultima VI was published the same year, but I should have to wait to play the later installments for another five years until I could afford a decent personal computer. Then I bought all the remaining available titles (Ultima VI, VII Pt. 1 & 2, VIII as well as the Underworld titles. I have been playing for months. Serpent Isle was the first title where I had problems figuring out how to get to the end without a walkthrough, and Pagan was even worse. Why should I be able to blow up bronze and wooden doors with powder kegs when that was possible back in Ultima VI but not in Ultima VII Pt. 1? Still, Serpent Isle was more than a great game. Pagan was a bit more disappointing - when I play role-playing computer games and have to try many things to open this or that door, triggering this or that event, gameplay and user interface should be more convenient. For me, the handling of the game was a total disappointment. Jumping on platforms was tedious and annoying, even with the patch. The most stupid thing was the hole which led to Khumash Gor's tomb (if you didn't already stand on it when you opened it, the Avatar would always step around instead of climbing down). Ok, enough of the bad words - it was great storytelling though, Ultima at its best. This and the beautiful graphics and music providing great atmosphere led me to playing through the game a second time (after my beloved saved games died in a hard drive crash) while cursing the bugs and game handling over and over again. As a review I read once already said: Ultima VIII is a good game, but it could have been great...

Stefan (Germany)
IREBALL's opinion (13 May 2006):
If ORIGIN would let me program THE LOST VALE i'd do so...give me the storyline and i'll take care of the game..its so great it has to be fixed and finished properly...

p.s. First time i played the game i typed in IREBALL instead of FIREBALL..but kept playin it with that name..my little brother who was 4 then got stuck on the name..and 8 years later he started playing it and got as lost and addicted as i was....hows that for those who say the game was bad..i played other ULTIMA's..this one had the best depth/atmosphere...bar none!
Dmitry's opinion (18 April 2006):
To write the letter, it is necessary ...
Mark's opinion (21 March 2006):
In my opinion, U8 was one of the greatest PC games I have *ever* played for many reasons. I bought it not too long after it was released, and it was by far the first "open ended" game I've played. The cross between those great pixel graphics, the mistifying background music, well designed areas and overall fun gameplay made it such a great game. There's just so much to do and find, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who furnished one of the vacant houses with a ton of "scavenged" items that I found throughout my travels. I would pay $100's for the U8 devs to finish up the original expansion for this game, why the hell was that project scrapped? :( Well over a decade later, I can still play this game and not lose interest. Where the hell have the days of good games gone?!
Francois424's opinion (26 December 2005):
My father watched me finish U7, then U7p2... At a store bought me this game, Ultima VII. Read the manual, the Pagan story and all.

Then I install it. I try to play it, and like the early game reviewer that evaluated it, I found it to be lacking, boring, and frustrating. I put it aside for a good 1½ years. Then somewhen, I pull it out and decide to try it on my brand new 486/100 computer, re-install it, put in the patch and the SoundBlaster Patch and start playing it again.

This time, everyting just "clicks". In no time I manage to get that blasted dagger from mordea, and proceed to meet Lithos. That's t, now i'm hooked and finishing the game. Where some people found frustration (jumping on the water stones anyone ?) I found pure fun and pleasure (not to mention a challenge... dying meant long load times). Finished the game a few weaks later, and played it a couple times as well. I remember liking the sorcerer's enclave, making one of the houses there mine.

Everything is to be put into perspective... No, U8 was in no way a perfect game. But the depth of the story, the elements you learned in books, all of that put togetter made for an awesome, incredible storyline. the magic system was pretty cool as well.

A year or so ago I did a "Pagan" Campaign with the 3.5 AD&D rulesets, my players really loved it, had to tweak classes and spells, but all players found that original as well. So 7 people liking a scenario, means it is all but dull.

I'll just say this : give pagan the chance it deserves, and it wil amaze you as well. I hate the fact I cant get it to work (cant understand how dosbox works, and I dont have an older PC anymore), I just wish around the lines that fans more technicaly sabby will develop a workable easy-installable patch to make it work again.

Btw: great site, good info. and also merry Christmas an happy new year to all Ultima fans.
Kazin's opinion (6 August 2005):
Despite Pagan's various flaws, I will always hold it in high regard for its almost unrivaled sense of atmosphere. There's something about the world of Pagan that had such a mystique to it that I find myself returning to it almost regularly, and probably will continue to do so until the day comes that machines have become so ridiculously advanced that even the notion of a DOS game has become obsolete.
Eat_My_Shortz's opinion (6 June 2005):
I'd never even heard of Ultima when I found Ultima VIII bundled with my new CD-ROM back in 1994.

Over the years I've spent hours playing, walking around in Tenebrae, and eventually travelling into the Necromancer's caves and the domain of Lithos. I always loved the game's environment and the "loneliness" it provides compared to other RPGs. But I really, was never very good at it, and eventually gave up since I was sick of getting out my old DOS computer to play it.

(I've never gotten Ultima VIII to run inside a Windows environment ever.)

But today, I just discovered a truly awesome program, DOSBox! This program is a DOS emulator which allows you to play all your old favourites in Windows XP (or earlier, I assume) with very few problems. So I've just started Ultima VIII again!
There's just one problem which is that the game halts for about a short time when sound effects are played, so I have to turn off footsteps - this may be just me and the way I'm setting it up.

You can get DOSBox here: http://dosbox.sourceforge.net

On a negative note, there were some bugs which were annoying, and even corrupted my saved game files (this was before I found the patch, however). But, a great and memorable game.
morton firetooth's opinion (22 March 2005):
this game, as an RPG, sucks ass.

the graphics, for the time, were top-notch, but the story and the gameplay were hollow.

they turned ultima into an arcade game with mario jumping puzzles.

it's quite obvious this was a rushed product.

now, i did play through it, and let me telll you, there are momemtns when you feel the need to curse the programmers of the game and then there are also moments where you marvel at the beauty of the game world.

but mostly it's just a very poorly made, rushed, RPG.

damn you lord british! you could have made this game great!
David's opinion (14 January 2005):
In 1997 my dad brought home our fist computer. At first i didn’t like it since the games that came with the computer sucked, and i couldn’t get this one game called ultima 8 to work, so i left the 482 to collect dust and for my sisters to play sim-farm on. One day however my older sister who was about 14 got ultima 8 to work, it seemed at first that she was more excited than i was, until about a 2 weeks later... after about 30 hours of playing i found out that we could steal if you slept in someone’s bed while and waited till they left (Rhian, Korick), I realised that I could do what ever I wanted and sometimes get away with it, cursed Beren: P. We reached a dead stop after about 3 months of playing when we started looking for this so called “platue”, we read every book in the library we asked everyone in town and one day, while strolling around looking for something to steal/kill/loot while near Kilandras house my sister noticed that the platue was right there, just above us, above the cliff that was impossible to climb (this is actually the border of the game, we just saw the flat graw plane above the cliff and concluded that must be the platue) obsessed with our new objective we started studying ways of trying to get up there, we looked everywhere for a possible place to climb but in the end decided on stacking things to get up there, so as the weeks passed we collected every barrel, every piece of wood from fisherman’s cove. Finally we had a staircase of about 13 barrels and other pieces of junk from all over the area, we were very disappointed to find that you couldn’t go up there no matter how high you stacked the barrels, frustrated and angry my sister quit the game forever, leaving me to play alone. After that secretly playing all (my perents didn’t allow for more than 2 hours a day each) night by myself wasn’t as great as when my sister was there, there was nobody to conspire with or wonder with, so I too eventually quit.

In march of 1999 I was hit by a car at school and had to stay in bed at home, I got bored and found the old ultima cd lying in a box untouched for almost 2 years. I remembered how much fun I got out of it when I played it with my sister and decided to try finish the game. I at looked all over town, under every pillow, under ever chiar and in every book for something that I haven’t already seen. I didn’t find anything, besides some jewlery that reappears all the time (which made me very rich) and some cool little stories, but again by chance and I really don’t know how we had missed this having spent so much time in east tenebrea I found the entrance to the plain where the slayer entrance was (forgot what it was called). Amazed to see a place that I had never seen before (having scrutinized over every other pixel in east, west tenerabrea, fisherman’s cove, docks, herdsman valley. This was amazing. I immediately call my older sister over and she was also excited but not even close to what she could have been, she didn’t really care anymore she was too old now. That didn’t faze me at all I immediately started looking all over the area and eventually did the slayer quest, and visited the necromancers. Having still not found the platue I figured that it only existed in the books of tenebrea and the mind of Bentic, but that too I eventually found: I was again just looking for interesting things to do in the same old places that I have seen a million times when I noticed that there was a cave at the end of one of the trails that I have walked on a many times but never really noticed , I remember thinking that obviously we have been in there many times and looked for loot so its properly empty, but not being able to recall what was in it I decided to wonder in, especially since I had nothing better to do. The first thing I noticed was the stones across the water, I had never seen those before! Not having the patch this part was really hard to complete but after that it didn’t take me long to reach mythran and the bonecrusher (btw another good money making place, all you do is keep reloading the cave and killing the troll in it, he drops good money). . I played the game for about 1 hour a day after that for the next 2 years. The rest of the game went very slowly but I never had to stack barrels or anything like that. Whenever I found a cool part in the game (any titan meeting, Mordea death  seriously cheered out load when I saw that one., and so on) she didn’t really care to much except for the mordea one, which I could tell she was happy to see. Only after I had finished did I know that the internet might hold info on the game, so after searching I came across many sites. I saw things on those sites that I had done myself and I felt very proud (since I didn’t need to look at walk-throughs or anything) I laughed when they mentioned how to get passed the tower of Hanoi with the golem, because that the way I thought you had to do it (the golem was my in game buddie :P ) and was shocked to see all the cool maps and the cheat room, but the number one thing that hit me was the ghost sub-plot. I knew there was something behind those two doors, and I knew that there was something special about her daughter! But I thought those doors couldn’t be opend just like the big double doors on the platue. I went back and replayed the game and do all the things that I couldn’t figure out before like the ghost subplot and the chest by the docks in tenebrea that I could never open. I could only figure out the latter of the two, I never found the ghost armor, to this day I still try to get info on how to get it but I can never get the right conversation going or the ghost to drop the key, if someone has info on this please email me at simplegrreen@hotmail.com

On the whole after the last 8 years this game is the most enjoyable game I have ever played, I was so into this game, still kinda am. This game has provided more entertainment for me than anything else in my life (I never watch tv). I am so happy that people like Dino and and pdragon. Thanks so much for making these awesome sites and I really look forward to ultima 8 Exile.

Thanks so much for reading


Btw ill write some other things that happened in that game when I have more time, for now back to work.
Kay Dash's opinion (14 February 2004):
The great news is that I got it working in WinXP! BUT..for some reason, I recall it running smoother on my old Pentium with 200 Mhz rather than my current Athlon XP 2000+! Can anyone help me out? I'm using the Ultima Collection CD and adjusting the MoSlo program doesn't work. I doubt it is even used by U8! HELP!
raoul's opinion (13 January 2004):
I loved U8. One of my favorite games ever. It had great atmosphere.
doOkiE!'s opinion (13 January 2004):
Ultima 8 is a great game. It was my first RPG contact and i've never seen an other game like this.

I don't know a modern game cool as U8 was. It's a pitty.
Ether^.^'s opinion (10 January 2004):
i am slow isnt it... its 2004 when i post this..

U8 is a great game.. great magic and effect.. most regeant of the spell can be found easily making magic easy to cast.. combat training is easy 2... sparring with the captain at his house and killing beren the town socercer is a challenge 2..

in fact.. i wish all rpg fantasy take hint from U8 ^.^
Robin's opinion (15 November 2003):
I bought Ultima 8 back in '96 I think, and it was actually the first ultima game that I could complete without cheating or looking at a walkthrough - which meant that it was easy but enjoyable (for me!).

I remember how initally it was crappy because movement was slow due to heavy graphic usage and the physics of the game was emphasised more over player options.

I also had fun jumping over those floating platforms! (hey I'm a ex gamer). But yeah, they were fun because i died and my story could be told :).. but i was annoyed at the candle placements which needed a magnifying glass to get it right.

I was sorely disappointed with the cut of the quests for water, and the lost vale expansion should have been part of the game. Richard Garriot should have included more in the game, because it was good at the time (are you listening Richard??)

Yes, but overall I felt a bit empty because I think that I played a half finished game which had the potential to be more. And my golly I remember those speech packs!
Aloisio S. Senra's opinion (14 November 2003):
Hello, all. I am really present now.
I loved Ultima VIII in the first time I´ve seen it. It was one of the first RPG´s that I have played. In the beginning I died easily, and it makes me almost quit on playing the game. But my patience won, and I could enjoy this magnificent game. The new concept of moving, with climbing and jumping, and the freedom of actions (almost any object could be taken) that makes the game really great. Ah, but what I enjoyed most was the speeches of the Titans and the Guardian. But we can´t forget the Zealan Deities and Kumash-Gor. My spine get a chill when he said "Come you seeking treasure? Well, it´s death what you have found". And, to complete the stuff, the magics. I was fascinated by all the magics, but the first in my preference is Sorcery, because of the complexity of the rituals. In many of the other games, magics could be bought in any shop in any city. Here is different, and the difficulty to learn magics is what makes them so interesting.
Ultima VIII rules!!!
norleaf's opinion (10 November 2003):
Ultima 8 was the second Ultima game I played... 5 was the first, so I wasn´t really addicted to Brittania in any way, which I think might have been a bonus, though I ofcause couldn´t know but only speculate why this guardian fellow hated me such...

I endured under the jumping and was actually quite good at it in the end, but I got stuck after dealing with the first two titans and needed a walkthrough to get through the game... which I actually never even did. I got bored in the planes and left it there never to return. I couldn´t get it to run in XP and so I await the completion of Dino´s nvn remake to finally get to finish this game...
Kolian's opinion (5 September 2003):
I honestly don't understand why U8 was branded such an awful game (perhaps it was the fact that EA pulled their usual crap, sliding the release date up two or three months - the same thing that was Ultima IX's downfall). The jumping/climbing was, at times, awkward, but on the whole it added a puzzle factor to the game that set it a cut above the standard, classical RPG. Of course, what they gained in this isometric, Z axis interface, they lost in the combat, which was, I found, ridiculously simplified, vacant of any skill requirements, and avoidable throught most (if not all) of the game. The magic systems were brilliant, however they were used purely to further plot, as their difficulty of use (sorcery, anyway) made combat with magic somewhat illogical. As noted above, it was much easier to just run past whatever nasty critter there is. On the whole, it's a classic RPG, and I'll ALWAYS remember it for it's originality, if for nothing else.

PS: "In some ways it is even beter then Ultima IX..."

Wouldn't that imply that U8 was in fact the SECOND WORST, if not the worst, in the series? =D
Steb's opinion (4 September 2003):
Cant even figure out how to install the darned thing.... the age of DOS is gone i guess... i doubt it would even run on this computer... a crying shame
dunk's opinion (31 August 2003):
I didn't like Ultima VIII. I disliked the graphics. Ultima VII looked much better overall in my opinion. Ultima VIII did have very good looking and well animated people, but the landscape was so odd, I felt like I was going to get sick. Another big complaint I have is the conversations. Not the content, the mechanics. In Ultima VII, you would click the mouse when you finished with a section of text and the next section would come up. In Ultima VIII, this was done automatically. It would either take entirely too long (sometimes only one line of text would appear at a time), or go too fast (a huge block of text in that awful unreadable font). The speed was adjustable, but in order to be able to read the large blocks of text, you had to slow it down, which made the small blocks rather frustrating. All in all, I give Ultima VIII an "AAAAARGGGGGH!"

I never even got out of Tennebrae.
Torfs's opinion (29 August 2003):
I have been played lots of games, but
only one I am playing again and again.
Actualy Ultima 8 is the best RPG DOS game. It can`t compete with the new games, but the atmosphere of this game is taking over your mind. So you can feel the spirit of this game, maybe this game is damned, but I like it.
In some ways it is even beter then Ultima IX...

Torfs from Courland
Barrotes from Portugal's opinion (14 July 2003):
Ultima VIII was one of my favourite games back in the D.O.S. age.
I didn't understand much of the context of the dialogs 'cause I was a very young avatar. I had never played the previous ultimas. A few years later I got Ultima 4, but didn't like it. One of U8's ( Ultima VIII ) greatest advantage, was the grafics engine, a major improvement for games in that age. I like the game in general, but I don't like all the puzzles. I think that the game would be more successfull if it had more npc caracter interactions, less puzzles, more magic etc.
This is the year 2003. I got my 486 dx4 100 MHZ running again ( bought in 1994 ), and it has Windows 98 and Ultima VIII only. I got a AMD XP 2400, but it will never replace the good old 486 :)
A funny fact, after all these years, I tryed to finish U8 ( for the 4th time I think ) and still had a bit of hard time doing it. I'll never forget this great game, and as long as the 486 runs, it will survive. :)

Note: I still have not tryed Ultima 9 or Ultima Online. For some reason, these 2 games are not sold in Portugal.
I don't care if I have to wait for 2010 ! I will continue the journey !

Rest Avatar, you will need it...
Toby Da turtle's opinion (1 July 2003):
U8 Kicks Ass!!!
It's hard to install 98, but 95 was extremely simple to install and run U8.
It's very addictive. I can't go one day without playing it.
Gul's opinion (23 June 2003):
Ultima VIII was the first ultima i ever played and i must say it is the one which I enjoyed most. I liked the physical puzzles (jumpong etc). I also had a fun time just killing guards with explo bottles and looting everyones house. Nasty suprise that trickster book:). Almost in every house there is a little subquest, to find a lever or a key. I spend weeks looting everyones house. Also being able to pickup every object in the game was very nice. Searching for keys under a pillow etc. It is a shame not many games have this kind of interaction. I also liked the ritualistic magic. Sorcery was great, so was necromancy. This is one of the best games ever made. Only betrayal at krondor can compete with this game. A must have!
Dino's opinion (1 June 2003):
When I first played Ultima 8, I couldn't get an idea on what it was about. I hadn't played Serpent Isle before it, and so I had no idea why the Avatar was on this strange land and not Britannia. Moreover, the land was so different that it put me off, and I couldn't get an idea on what you had to do until I saw a walkthrough.

I must say, when I played through it and finished it, I enjoyed it despite the excessive jumping and climbing action elements. Adding jumping and climbing was probably a good move; I think it gives you more freedom. For example, you can break into houses or climb onto their roofs.

However, the problem with Ultima 8 was that this extra feature was forced on the player as a part of the plot. The plot consisted of countless jumping puzzles and the requirement to climb here and there. This was not wanted, and it received negative feedback from the fans, resulting in the release of the patch.

I think Ultima 8 had a great plot, and I would have liked to see the expansion. It's a pity that jumping and climbing were imposed upon the player, otherwise it would definately have been much more enjoyable.

Dino the Dark Dragon
Daniel D'Agostino
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