Lord of Ultima
Lord of Ultima Overview
Lord of Ultima marks EA’s latest efforts in the free to play space. Web based strategy games are quite common, but Lords of Ultima manages to offer a truly unique experience while keeping gameplay simple. Players start off with a small town, and must build it up by generating resources, constructing new buildings, training soldiers, and upgrading their town hall. Settle or conquer new cities to expand your empire, but be sure to make allies and form an alliance for mutual protection. Building placement actually matters in Lords of Ultima, a strategic building plan will make a city more prosperous. There are also dungeons to raid in LoU. Defended by NPC monsters, players send their troops to raid dungeons to earn extra resources and items.
Units - Cityguard, Berserker, Ranger, Guardian, Scout, Crossbowman, Knight, Mage, Warlock, Templar, Paladin, Baron, Ram, Ballista, Catapult, Sloop, Frigate, War Galleon
Lord of Ultima Screenshots
Lord of Ultima Video
Lord of Ultima Full Review
By, Erhan Altay
Lord of Ultima marks Electronic Art’s latest push into the free to play space. Developed by Phenomic Studio, the same folks behind BattleForge, Lord of Ultima entered open beta testing in early April 2010 and saw official release on the 20th of that same month. Anyone whose played a web based strategy game before will be familiar with Lord of Ultima’s gameplay, controls, and medieval/fantasy setting. But this isn’t just a case of EA jumping on the Evony bandwagon, Lord of Ultima offers several innovation to the genre that are sure to attract new players and strategy veterans alike.
Fast and Download Free
As a browser based game, Lord of Ultima has no client to download. Players who already registered an EA account for a prior game like Battlefield Heroes can use it to log in. Similarly, new players who register an account for Lord of Ultima can use it to access other EA services. Because of the early success of German strategy games like Tribal Wars and Travian, the web based strategy genre is much more popular across Europe than it is here in the States. This is evident even in the server distribution in Lords of Ultima; there are more EU servers than North American ones. Character creation is limited to entering a name and choosing from 12 avatar pictures.
Sosaria is now Caledonia
New players are randomly assigned to a continent on the shattered world of Sosaria which has been renamed Caledonia. As veteran PC RPG gamers will remember, Sosaria was the name of the fantasy world in the Ultima series. The new Caledonia name breaks what little connection Lord of Ultima had with previous Ultima titles. Another oddity is the fact that the game was developed Phenomic studio and not Mythic which is currently publishing Ultima Online for EA. The game starts players off in their first city zone which is made up of five sections, a center area and four corners. A short tutorial introduces the interface and game’s basics through a series of tasks. Players are asked to construct a wood cutters, a cottage, warehouse, and so on. There is a small resource reward with each step of the way which serves as a good incentive to do as you’re told rather than just close the prompts. Within a few minutes, player will have a fledgling city capable of training troops and generating all four of the key resources.
Old, But New
At first glance, Lord of Ultima is likely to draw a sense of deja vu. There are four resources to juggle; wood, stone, iron, and food. Gold coins must also be collected via taxation. Troops are trained at the barracks, and new cities can be settled or conquered. There’s even the standard 7 day newbie protection period. Besides a well organized interface and high quality art work, Lord of Ultima does provide some unique features that help it stand out from the growing crowd of strategy games. The first of these that player will encounter is the fact that building placement has a real impact on the development of a city. Woodcutter’s huts must be placed near forests, Iron mines near iron deposits, farms near lakes, and so on. Additionally, cottages can be placed adjacent to resource generating buildings (except farms) to boost its performance. Farms receive a productivity boost for each empty space adjacent to them. Other buildings also receive bonuses depending on what structures are nearby. A Training Grounds will train troops faster if a barracks is connected to it, for example.
Upgrading and Waiting
Unlike Evony or Freesky Online, there’s no freebie way to instantly build in Lord of Ultima. Fortunately, building construction and upgrading doesn’t take too long until the mid levels. There are 34 buildings in total, and each starts at level 1 and maxes out at level 10. This includes the all important Town Hall which regulates what type of buildings are available in a city, and how many buildings in total a city can support. Players can also rename their city through the Town Hall. Lord of Ultima only allows a single building to be constructed or upgraded at a time, but up to five items can be queued at a time. Like other strategy games, Lord of Ultima is designed to be played in short bursts throughout the day. After the first few hours of gameplay, its best to simply queue up building and unit orders on one browser tab while going about your business. The aforementioned 7 day grace period can be canceled by constructing a castle, but new players are cautioned against this course of action. In Lord of Ultima even a player’s starting city can be conquered, forcing them to restart the game from the beginning.
A city’s physical appearance on the main map, or region map, will evolve as its town hall and city walls are upgraded. The resource distribution of a city is influenced by nearby geography on the regional level. Players can switch between city and region view by hitting the two tabs located near the top left of the screen. Cities near rivers will have more lakes, those near mountains will have more iron spots, those near hills will have more stone deposits, and those near woods will have more forests. Besides cities, the region contains various dungeons which are filled with NPC controlled monsters. Players can send their troops to raid these dungeons. Raiding dungeons yields resources and gold. The amount gained depends on the level of the dungeon (1-10) and how many foes are defending it. Low level dungeons only yield a few 100 resources at a time, hardly worth the effort. The player vs environment features in Lord of Ultima are no where near as flashed out as those in Heroes of Gaia. But for player who really have nothing else to do while waiting for their buildings to finish, raiding remains a viable option.
Players must decide how best to expand their empire; through settlement or conquest. Settling a new town requires the construction of carts, trading ships, a baron, and a heap of resources. Alternatively, taking an already established city by force can prove to be much more efficient. Generally, the defender in a siege has the advantage. City walls, towers, and the fact that reinforcements can be put to use right away make defending a city much easier than assaulting one. What ever path you chose, it is essential to join an alliance before the seven day safety period runs out. After the tutorial, a series of quests give players a sense of direction. Players are rewarded for upgrading their Town Halls, joining an alliance, and increasing their player score. Titles like Baron, Earl, and Prince are earned by acquiring moonstones. Titles define the maximum number of barons a player can train, and the maximum number of cities a player can control (21 is the max.)
Land & Sea
Regardless of whether a city is located near an ocean or a river, it will have a natural harbor area. Players can build docks near the water and train ships. In total there are three ship types; Slops, Frigates, and War Galleons. There are also three siege units available; rams, balistas, and catapults. Regular infantry units come in 12 varieties ranging from infantry to cavalry to magic users. Added up, there are 18 combat units in Lord of Ultima.
While Lord of Ultima is free to play, players must use diamonds to purchase items and services that speed up gameplay. A few are rewarded for completed quests, but for the most part they require real cash payments. Diamonds are available at around a penny each with bonus amounts given for bulk purchases. For 10 diamonds, players can purchase 5k of any resource. Building construction and troop recruitment can be sped up by using cash shop items as well. There’s no limit to the number of premium items, or economic artifacts as they’re called, which can lead to severe gameplay imbalances. Anyone who is willing to open up his wallet can pour enough money in to repel any invasion or win any battle. This is in contrast to the premium services in games like Grepolis which give paying players a bonus but not a blank check. Players can also hire ministers using diamonds. There are currently two available: a Building Minister who increases the queue limit from 5 to 16, and a Defense Minister who increases the recruitment queue from 5 to 16 and alerts alliance members if the player is attacked. All item malls in free games cause some imbalance, but it would of been better if there were more minister options and fewer resource-for-cash items.
Final Verdict: Good
Lord of Ultima is EA’s first major browser release and it doesn’t disappoint. The strategy genre is full of clones, but Lord of Ultima does enough differently to distinguish itself while still maintaining the classic, familiar gameplay style. Fans of the franchise may be left confused, but strategy fans who approach Lord of Ultima as a stand alone game which appreciate it.