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Looking Into the Stygian Abyss

Ryan Tullis Posted:
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Many Ultima games featured the expansive, hard dungeon known as Stygian Abyss. It even received its own game known as "Ultima Underworld." Well, many feel it's about time it made its debut on Ultima Online. Well, the wish has been given an answer, and it might be a scary one.

Despite all of the excitement surrounding the dungeon (particularly the sheer mystery), some have asked how its coming effects them. It's a strong question; particularly because it features something that has never appeared in the Ultima universe: PvPvM.

What's PvPvM? Player versus Players versus Monster. Other games, such as Lineage 2 and Ragnarok Online have already included dungeons featuring these elements. But, how does this apply to the UO player? Simply put: It changes the way he/she will play the game.

Ultima Online, regardless of its controversy, has always been split into two convenient realms known as Trammel and Felucca. The Player Killer got to stay in the "ghetto" of Ultima, playing in the dangerous lands; while, the blue player, the one interested in player versus monster, could take their time without the threats of other players--that is, until now. Stygian Abyss will contain several rooms, unknown at this time, which will make it a free-for-all.

Could we see reds and blues fighting side by side for the sake of self-preservation? Well, at least until the blue is overweight, most likely. This means you could massacre monsters until you've gotten your fair share of treasure, only to be quickly, and quite literally, stabbed in the back by someone right next to you. It might even be me if you have the right item.

How disgruntled does this make some of the players?

Some aren't. Ritter Maggier, a player of Ultima Online since its beta, says, "If it's room based, I don't care... I don't fear other players." But do other players fear him?

Aceline, a reportedly new player to the Ultima world, states, "I guess it makes it more realistic, but I'm not particularly into PvP. If I was in a party with someone I didn't know..."

So, what else changes with the release of this new style of dungeon?

Many builds that are centered around player versus monster (or player versus environment) don't feature certain skills such as Resist Spells. 120 Evaluate Intelligence and 120 Magery paralyzation don't usually come from them; however, many players do cast just that. So, in the future, players may actually have to take real re-consideration into their builds, as the additions of the "toughest bosses" will also, most likely, mean some of the best loot. Thinking about taking that crowd control bard of yours? You might want to think again. Peace-making, at best, might just stall your opponent enough to run as fast as you can, but not if they get to you first. I know for my bard in a player versus player situation, he's going to be dead so fast I won't have time to beg.

Now, as for an experience many players can relate this concept to Champ Spawns in Felucca. Many times, reds camp around the area in order to loot or kill parties at their weakest hour. Currently, many parties choose just to do Trammel or Ilshs spawns (I know I usually stick with them), aside from rare occasions; however, what if Doom allowed player versus player combat? Suddenly, a place where the best artifacts can be obtained from is threatened to be off limits to the PvM player.

Scared yet? I am.

Honestly, though, there might not be need for alarm. Ultima Online and its staff has done a great job of keeping some yin with its yang. The Kingdom Reborn website has stated only certain areas will contain this threatening aspect. For most parties, the excitement will still stay with tough bosses and enemies only.

Of course, everything, as of right now, is speculation short of some very small tidbits of information from EA. Stygian Abyss has been a dynamically built expansion to say the least. From its original intention to only support the Kingdom Reborn client, to its full support and improvement to both clients. Regardless of what occurs, I admire the amount of attention and time that has gone into this project. A Theater Professor of mine once said, "If you succeed--succeed spectacularly. If you fail--fail spectacularly. But never do either one in moderation." Why? Because both are memorable. No matter how much controversy sticks behind the creation of Trammel, it's known and remembered. After a non-aggressive expansion such as Mondain's Legacy, it will be very amazing to see the fireworks behind the dungeon forever feared as Stygian Abyss.

Good luck, adventurers! And be sure to check out my next article where I spend a week in the Bangkok of Ultima Online: Siege Perilous to see just how tough the hardest server in Ultima Online is.


Ryan Tullis