Details on this new game, called Underworld Ascension, are basically non-existent at this point. No matter. Neurath and some of the original UU team are putting the band back together. If they release a new album, I will buy it. (Assuming they don't go mad by doing it as some bizarro console or F2P thing.)
If you didn't play Ultima Underworld, it will look crude by today's standards. But it was not just the first real 1st-person 3D texture-mapped dungeon crawler (predating Wolfenstein 3D); it put all those things together with such depth that it really was the first visually immersive gameworld. It was the first time I ever realized I was physically leaning as I raced my character around a corner to escape an ambush. It had puzzles (physical and systemic); it had action; it had humor. It had an invented language for you to figure out if you preferred non-violent solutions to some challenges!
I don't know if that level of innovation is possible again. But I am eager to learn more.
Here, have some testimonials:
Richard Garriott, Creative Director, Portalarium: “For those of us lifelong gamers that go back to the early days the Underworld franchise, created by Paul Neurath, represents a watershed event on what an immersive 3D true role-playing game can be like. In these days, where we are seeing many of these greats return, I personally am as excited about Underworld as any game I can imagine.“
Ken Levine, Creative Director, Irrational Games: "Underworld had a transformative effect on my understanding of what games were. It was the first time I ever felt "inside" of an imaginary world. It was the game that primed all of my creative ambitions."
Chris Roberts, Chairman, Roberts Space Industries: “Ultima Underworld was truly revolutionary for its time – it was the first fully 3D textured first person game. As such it influenced pretty much all first person 3D games that came afterwards and could be truly called the granddaddy of first person Role Paying Games.“
Warren Spector, Director, Denius-Sams Gaming Academy: “As Producer on the original Ultima Underworld games, I'll never forget the first time I saw a working prototype of the game – I felt as if the world had just changed. As the first fully-textured, real-time, first-person game, Underworld paved the way for every other first-person game that followed. If that doesn't qualify as ‘changing the world’, I don't know what does!”