Ultima Worlds Online: Origin – originally titled Ultima Online 2 – was to be the first sequel to the popular 1997 Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game Ultima Online. Origin Systems revealed that they were developing Ultima Online 2 in September 1999 for release within a year or two, but development was cancelled in March 2001.
The game was to be set in Sosaria but in an alternate timeline where a cataclysm has collided the past, present and future of Sosaria into a single world, thus bringing Industrial Revolution and steampunk elements to the medieval fantasy world. Players would be able to choose from three playable races. Ultima Online 2, billed as a “2nd generation MMORPG”, was to improve upon Ultima Online and previous MMORPGs. The most noticeable advancement was the competitive 3D engine that replaced Ultima Online’s aging isometric view. The design also changed several aspects that players voiced dislike for in the first one. In Ultima Online 2, player vs. player combat was to be disabled by default (except in special areas, such as arenas). The title also would have emphasized grouping, including groups of 20-30 players, and reduced the ability of single players to become all-around grand-masters (i.e., prevent the notorious “tank-mage” characters that appeared in Ultima Online).
In March 2001, Electronic Arts, the parent company of Origin, announced that development on Ultima Worlds Online: Origin would cease in order to provide additional support for Ultima Online. Shortly after, EA announced it had laid off 200 employees including some at Origin Systems. EA feared that it would compete for subscribers with Ultima Online, which was still profitable and not showing signs of slowing down. About one-third of the team that worked on Ultima Online 2 joined Destination Games to work on Richard Garriott‘s MMORPG, Tabula Rasa.
Just a few years later, history repeated itself when EA cancelled Ultima X: Odyssey in 2004.
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