Garriott’s Shroud Of The Avatar leaves early access

Another game has completed the long and treacherous journey from an industry elder having a nostalgic idea, fighting through the dark forest of crowdfunding, then brawling in the tavern of early access, to finally reach the glimmering Palace of Being Properly Out Now. The elder is Richard “Lord British” Garriott, the nostalgic idea is a return to his player-driven MMO days of Ultima Online, and the game is Shroud Of The Avatar: Forsaken Virtues. Five years after a Kickstarter campaign, the fantasy RPG has left early access and is now officially released.

“It’s exciting to have reached this major milestone,” Garriott said in today’s launch announcement. “Our fans and backers have been extremely patient and incredibly helpful with us every step of the way of our journey. With Shroud, I wanted to go back to my roots of game design. We wanted to create a rich story and also bring back a sandbox style of play… a style that’s immersive and interactive.”

This has resulted in a fantasy RPG that’s made for multiplayer free-form adventuring in a persistent world with player-run shops and player-built houses and towns. Y’know, kinda like Ultima Online. It does support singleplayer but really is made for multiplayer.

While some players do seem to be reliving Ultima fantasies, I have seen a lot of people complaining about issues including the game’s combat, its questing, poor performance, grinding, and microtransactions. It all looks a bit bum to me but I don’t have that nostalgia in my guts. The game does have a free trial if you want to see for yourself, or I suppose Steam refunds are an option too.

The launch update patch notes detail everything that makes the game now graduate to full release. New quests, new areas, more performance improvements and plugs for memory leaks, more companion NPCs, fixes… stuff, lots of stuff. The developers plan to release new content updates monthly too.

Shroud Of The Avatar: Forsaken Virtues is out now for Windows, Mac, and Linux. A 15% launch discount on Steam brings it to £26.34/€31.44/$33.99 for the next week. Portalarium also sell it through their own store, with bundles starting at $39.

20 Comments

  1. Someoldguy says:

    I’d call it a hot mess, but it’s closer to being a cold mess that got taken off the stove after a couple of years and has been quietly congealing ever since while they put all their effort into adding overpriced assets into the cash shop.

  2. Kamestos says:

    I had totally forgotten about this game. Is there anything to see here ?

    • carewolf says:

      No. Original backer here (2013), this is still crap. The only changes I have seen from the pre-alpha quality we had a year ago is that the game at least runs.. The content is still all over the place and basically missing, many features are not finished, audio is terrible or just absent, and well, this is now alpha quality, it runs and can be tested for once, but it doesn’t have working gameplay.

  3. Sian says:

    I kickstarted this and took a look twice – I don’t like to spoil myself with unfinished games. The last time must’ve been a few months ago, and it felt clunky and slightly dull. Since I already own it anyway I’m going to give it another go, but my hopes aren’t too high.

    • carewolf says:

      Me too. And while it can play now, it is not any good. The first intro quests that is supposed to hook you are barely functional kill enemy and fetch crap quests. It is just barely working now, well at least the parts the work, I still hit several places that flat out stated that that part wasn’t implemented yet, and that is in the supposed release version.

  4. milligna says:

    Ultimately, should’ve just given all the money to Raph Koster.

  5. mitrovarr says:

    If anyone has any interest in this at all, go read the other article on the game on this site. Seriously, the number of red flags I got just from the comment thread alone had enough mass to collapse into a black hole.

    • Maxheadroom says:

      yeah that made for some scary reading. backed this but will probably now never play it now. Still, looking forward to it getting mauled in the reviews now its officially out

  6. Vespa says:

    I regret backing this project on Kickstarter. Nostalgia did me in, despite being aware of Garriott’s activites during latter Ultimas and afterwards. Before anything was developed, the developers began shilling an ever-growing myriad of ways for users to spend more money (cough cough – Star Citizen… yes, I also backed this – but I think it’ll actually happen, despite the horrible business practices). Money that was, surprise surprise, then mismanaged. It’s ugly, folks. Like Sian, I own it, so I’ll check it out at some point. Perhaps we’ll be surprised. Sigh. No, I don’t believe it, either.

  7. Titler says:

    “Portalarium also sell it through their own store, with bundles starting at $39

    This is bad advice, and you need to be aware that WHERE you buy Shroud FROM matters too.

    In order to keep the game afloat through its disasterous 4 year delay, Portalarium have sold the rights to future revenue to different outside publishers. You are locked into their version of the Store if your original registration is done in their geographical area.

    So Europe/EU is handled by Travian. Travian has disabled gifting and Store Credit due complications with the RMT that’s built into Shroud from the ground up.

    Russia/CIS is handled by BlackSun. They do allow gifting and store credit, as far as I know, but I may be wrong on that.

    Portalarium hold the rest of the accounts, but are force migrating everyone over to their partners currently if your IP address at kickstarter/purchase puts you in that catchment area. So if you held Store Credit at Portalarium, and got moved to Travian, it’ll be converted into the Premium Currency, the Crowns of the Obsidian instead.

    If you try and register in the US to stay with Portalarium and pay dollars, you risk getting banned if it’s discovered you actually live elsewhere. This is because by setting up multiple different stores and revenue streams, they have to clamp down on using them to undercut each other’s prices.

    It does support singleplayer but really is made for multiplayer.

    Shroud is launching with single player incomplete. It’s currently just the MMO with the player housing not copied across. They plan to rebalance it later in the year… assuming the game even survives that long.

    While some players do seem to be reliving Ultima fantasies, I have seen a lot of people complaining about issues including the game’s combat, its questing, poor performance, grinding, and microtransactions (and I get the occasional very irate. It all looks a bit bum to me but I don’t have that nostalgia in my guts.

    If only those were the only issues, but unfortunately because the game is built around Real Money Trading, there’s far more evil within the community than you would normally find in an MMO, because criticism of the game is seen as damaging their Real Money businesses.

    You can also see the attempts to warp the coverage of the game by people with thousands of hours played suddenly putting up positive steam reviews. But look at the actual player numbers; they’ve still not passed 497 concurrent in game on Launch day, and that’s still only 83% of the previous peak, which was 600 on the day the game actually soft launched, and stopped wiping the servers, back in July 2016.

    Sadly any attempt to talk about those issues leads to risking getting moderated on forums in return; Just be aware that I’ve had to go to the police 3 times so far about someone stalking and harassing me, and I’ve got legal action active too.

    I worked on UO as an EM. I played the original games back in the 80s. I was one of the First Responders to the Kickstarter, and put $300 or so in… but they’ve managed to alienate even ME with deliberate deception about what the game really was going to be.

    It’s NOT the spiritual successor to Ultima; it’s a Free to Play MMO with Premium Currency and permanent Add On Store, that they’re hiding in game now because the scale of what they sell was putting people off… and Starr Long said as much in a recent newsletter. Watch them try and dissemble even on that. And then understand why they’ve driven so many backers away.

  8. caff says:

    It’s just crap. Stay away.

  9. MrLoque says:

    Oh boy… How the mighty have fallen 😞.

  10. unimural says:

    Did Garriott do much at all with this one? I followed some of the early updates, and I got the sense he wasn’t involved much after the initial phase and that this is Starr Long’s Shroud of the Avatar?

    • Arglebargle says:

      As I understand it, Garriott comes up with all sorts of ideas, and Long acts as strainer/producer, figuring out what might actually be feasible. Didn’t work on Tabula Rasa though.

  11. HiroTheProtagonist says:

    It’s funny, I recently read Neal Stephenson’s “REAMDE”, where one of the major plot points is about an MMORPG explicitly designed around RMTs and gold farming. Apparently, rather than being a warning about how badly the whole thing can go, it became a template for real world MMO designers.

    If ever there was a sign that the sun has set on the (Lord) British Empire, this is it.

  12. Arglebargle says:

    The original concept for SotA was very steampunk, interdimensional, and somewhat different. Fans, backers and money men wanted retread UO lockstep, and pretty much forced the development into a zombie Ultima direction.

    Early concept art was much more interesting.
    link to ultimacodex.com

    • Phubarrh says:

      “The original concept for SotA was very steampunk, interdimensional, and somewhat different. Fans, backers and money men wanted retread UO lockstep, and pretty much forced the development into a zombie Ultima direction.” Didn’t precisely the same thing happen to Tabula Rasa?

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