At the start of Warriors of Destiny, the player learns that Lord British has been lost on an expedition into the Underworld, and a tyrant known as Lord Blackthorn now rules Britannia in his stead. Three shadowy figures known as the Shadowlords (beings born of shards remaining from the original gem conceived by evil wizard Mondain) have corrupted Blackthorn and terrorize the eight cities of Britannia. Blackthorn enforces a strict, fundamentalist version of the eight virtues, which leads to results that are anything but virtuous (for example, citizens are required to give to charity or else face execution). The Avatar is summoned back to Britannia by his friends using a magic coin, which was included as a trinket in the game's box. With the help of his old companions and some new ones, they form the Warriors of Destiny in order to eliminate the Shadowlords, undermine Blackthorn's rule, and restore Lord British to his throne.
The game deals with the issues of fundamentalism and moral absolutism.
Warriors of Destiny featured much more polished writing (earlier games were riddled with some orthographical errors and uneven vocabulary) and considerably greater detail than previous games. It was the first Ultima to implement a time-of-day system in which the sun rises and sets, and non-player characters follow daily routine schedules. This game has been lauded as realistically portraying a culture living under a dictatorial regime; its tone is much darker than that of Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar.
As in Ultima IV, the player can interact with non-player characters (NPCs) by typing a word or phrase that signifies the topic to discuss. The NPCs will say what they care to share about a subject when it is mentioned, and the player can repeat key words used in the NPC's response to ask for further details. Sometimes, an NPC will ask a question of the player, and the player must give an appropriate response to keep the conversation active. As in Ultima IV only the first four letters of player spoken text are read by the game i.e. for 'shrine' the player need only type 'shri'.
The Shadowlords constrict the player in a cage from which he cannot escape if the party gets too close (in spite of Shamino having escaped from a conflict in the opening sequence) and they cannot be destroyed by combat. There are three Shadowlords: Faulinei, the Shadowlord of Falsehood; Astaroth, the Shadowlord of Hatred; and Nosfentor, the Shadowlord of Cowardice. Each of the lords represents the antithesis of one of the three principles of Truth, Love, and Courage. Each Shadowlord's name must be learned by the player in order to defeat them. Their names also summon them if spoken by the player. The Shadowlords are defeated by locating a corresponding shard for each one in the underworld. These must then be destroyed in the matching flame; i.e. the shard of falsehood must be destroyed in the flame of truth.
The Shadowlords appear at various times in different towns, and affect the towns people greatly. If the shadowlord of cowardice is about, the people will run away from you, afraid. If under the effect of the shadowlord of falsehood, they will try to steal from you. If the shadowlord of hatred is affecting them, they will try to attack you.
In addition to traveling by foot, the player's party can ride horses, sail ships, and row skiffs. A much less conventional form of travel, moongates are magical portals that appear at night in eight key locations across Britannia; stepping through one transports the player to another moongate, determined by the phases of the two moons. Ultima V added a notable new method of transport: the Magic Carpet. Found early in the game, the Magic Carpet is a handy way of traversing the game world, as it can float over almost any terrain, be it swamp, rivers and coastal waters, or even lava.
Ultima V used a modified form of the Elder Futhark runic alphabet for some game text, adding some letters to make a complete one-to-one correspondence with the English alphabet (plus a few runes to represent some common two-letter combinations). While all the earlier Ultima games since Ultima II had used runes on accompanying material such as maps and manuals and Ultima IV had shown single runes on the screen in specific situations, Ultima V was the first part of the series to incorporate multi-letter runic texts into the actual on-screen display.
Warriors of Destiny was the last Ultima developed on the Apple II; the limits of that system (excluding the 16-bit Apple IIGS) were increasingly becoming a hindrance to further technological advance, and thus all later games were developed on PC systems. This was also the last time in which Ultima creator Richard Garriott did a major share of the actual coding; in the later parts he acted as a game designer only.
Like the previous two games in the series, Ultima V was also ported to the NES by Origin and published through FCI/Pony Canyon; it was released as Ultima: Warriors of Destiny in 1991. Each of the NES games had significant differences from the originals; this NES version was, however, a less faithful rendition of the source material than its predecessors had been. Introductory parts were cropped; graphics and gameplay were relatively limited (a clear example is that the swamp terrain was represented by magical poison fields); and there were few music tracks.
The Commodore version of Ultima V lacks a musical score when played on a Commodore 64, due to lack of available RAM. The game's music will only play when it is run on a C128 in the C128's native mode. Additionally, the included fast loader of the Commodore version will only work on (American) NTSC C64s because of its intricate timing, so users of the slightly slower (European) PAL C64s were forced to select a third-party floppy disk drive type at the initial menu and had to live with very slow loading. On the C128, the native fast-loading code of that system is used, so that this problem disappears.
Amiga and Atari ST versions appeared in 1989. Their graphics were directly ported from PC thus not utilizing the capabilities of the machines. Also the soundtrack was reduced to few pieces when compared to Commodore 128 version.
All editions contained: the game media; a cloth map; a metal coin (approximately 1.5 inches in diameter depicting a three circles inside a six-pointed star); The Book of Lore; Lord British's Odyssey; A quick reference card; a player reference card (version specific); a registration post card.
The game box differs between editions only by screenshots on the back. The Atari ST version depicts (left to right): a giant mouse in a dungeon; Castle British area including the player, a ship and a headless; and, battle screen with player casting 'In Flam Hur' on various skeletons. The IBM version depicts (left to right): a fountain in a dungeon; Castle British area including the player, a ship and a horse; and, the interior of an inn.
- Ultima Wiki
- Ultima V at MobyGames
- Big, Big Maps of Old, Old Games — Collection of Ultima V maps
- Ultima V (PC Version) video at Youtube
- Ultima V Ending (PC Version) video at Youtube