Playing Ultima VII (Black Gate & Serpent Island) on a Modern PC

This is it, the last one of my posts on how to play all 14 Ultima games on a modern PC.  I saved the best for last, or least nearly the best.  My favorite Ultima is actually 4, but 7 is a close second.  Unlike the last handful of posts we will not be using DOSBox as there is a much slicker way to play both parts of Ultima VII called Exult.  I won’t get into acquiring the game files, installing DOSBox or justifying why do this myself when I could just get the games via GOG.  See my first post, on Akalabeth, for comments on such things.  For previous posts in the series see: Ultima VIII, Underworld II, Underworld, Savage Empire & Martian Dreams, Ultima IX, Ultima VI, Ultima V, Ultima IV, Ultima III, Ultima II, Ultima I and Akalabeth.

Acquiring the Manuals & Maps

The High-Resolution Ultima Map Project is the best place to get most Ultima maps.  The Black Gate map is here and the Serpent Isle map is here.  Next is the manuals.  Black Gate comes with only two pieces of documentation: The Book of Fellowship and the Player Reference Guide.  As usual both of them can be found on replacementdocs.com here and here.  Serpent Isle also only comes with two pieces of documentation: Beyond the Serpent Pillars and the Player Reference Guide.  Again, both can be found on replacementdocs.com here and here.  There are also two more pieces of documentation you are going to want and those are The Silver Seed Play Guide and the Forge of Virtue manual.

Installing the Game

Like most of the newer Ultimas (minus 9) installation is pretty simple.  First you are going to copy all the game files to your machine.  Choosing a path that only contains folders with less than 8 characters and contains no spaces will make your life easier in the next step.  For reference, I always choose “C:\Games\ultima7” and “C:\Games\serpent”.  Second we need to install the Exult audio data pack found here.  Just run the installer once downloaded and use the default settings.  Lastly we need to install Exult.  We will be using the latest snapshot of Exult, found here, even though it says “Unstable”.  We should be fine, if you find that the snapshot is actually unstable you can always fall back to the last official release which can be found here.  Once downloaded, run the installer.  The default options are all good, but once you get to the “Select Game Folders” screen we need to put in our paths we used in the first step.  So go ahead and enter “C:\Games\ultima7” for the Black Gate path and “C:\Games\serpent” for the Serpent Isle path.  Obviously if you used different paths enter those instead.

Patching the Game

There are patches you can apply if you choose, which can be found here and here, for Black Gate and Serpent Isle respectively.  You install them by unzipping them into a “mods” folder under “C:\games\ultima7” and/or “C:\Games\serpent”, so “C:\games\ultima7\mods” and/or “C:\games\serpent\mods”.  The game is awesome with or without the mods, so its your call if you want to install them.

Playing the Game

This one is as simple as it gets.  Run Exult from your start menu and then select which game you want to play.  Configuration is where it can get complicated.  You can go to the Setup menu at the bottom left if you want to play with the configuration, but the default settings are pretty good.

Wrapping Up

Just run Exult from the start menu and then select which game you want to play!

Any questions or comments just let know.  Thanks!

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