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So the other day I purchased the entire Ultima series. I planned on doing a sort of marathon of the series, mainly to see how well the games have aged. I beat Ultima I and while it is pretty dated it was a decent experience. So I try Ultima II, excited to see where the series goes from the original (one of the things I liked about I was that you can see how Garriott expanded the gameplay from Akalabeth). I don't know what happened here, but my first impressions of Ultima II is that it's basically unplayable.

Firstly, unlike the first game where once you figured out what you were doing you almost didn't need a walkthrough anymore, you basically need one for II and even reading up what you have to do is a chore. To say the game is confusing is a grave understatement. Furthermore even once you know what to do, the problem you have now is actually surviving to do it; the game offers little explanation of how the time gates work (basically a proto version of the moongates in Ultima IV, only without the reliability and twice the tedium) and having to grind up money for food and health upgrades is an exercise in futility, not to mention needing to find basically mandatory plot items via completely random item drops from defeated enemies.

So yeah, I think this game's a pain to play. I didn't think the torture would start until VIII, but yeesh this isn't fun. I'm contemplating skipping it and going on to Exodus, which I hear is where the series starts to hit its stride.
Post edited November 09, 2015 by PsychoSephiroth
This question / problem has been solved by roaringlion510image
It can be pretty frustrating and is extremely grindy. The "story" is similar enough to the first game that you won't really miss anything by giving it a pass.
In my opinion anyone can skip the first three games + Akalabeth and start with Ultima 4, 5, 6, 7, skip 8 again and then play Ultima 9.

I think what defines an Ultima game has started with the fourth game.
It kind of depends what it is you're looking at. When typing up a blog post concerning Ultima II after finishing it, I referred to it as the 'awkward adolescent' of the series, trying everything in an attempt to figure out exactly what it wants to be. And that's still how I see it now. If seeing the progress of the development of the series and the expansion of the gameplay interests you, you might want to try to stick out a little longer - there's some very steep deterrents, yes, but once you're past them (and the utter grindyness of it) there's some interesting bits here and there and a few seeds of what would come further down the road. It's a transitional stage, when it comes down to it, between the experiments and wacky antics of its predecessors and the attempts at more down-to-earth (so to speak) storytelling of its descendants. It's a very rough and awkward transition, though, and when all is said and done - no, you're not really missing all that much if you give Ultima II a pass. It's probably the most skippable of the series, and yes, Exodus is indeed where the series began to hit its stride, so if you'd rather hurry over Ultima II to get to it, it's not a problem and nobody's really gonna hold it against you.
Personally, I think the "real deal" starts with part IV of the saga. The earlier titles are interesting in a historical way, but I can't get myself to play them really. I played U7 and SI first and never had the bad feeling of missing something. These two are pinnacles of the genre. Next I'll play U6 and the two spin-offs.