Ultra: Finally Viable, But Is It Too Late?

During the last war, I got to finally have a true Ultra loadout. Granted, it was during the 120fps limit games. Even so, having eight ten round magazines and two six round magazines actually means having enough darts to support yourself during a round. Results were better than expected, since my 2nd Amp shoots straight (the first consistently shoots right), so accuracy wholly depended on the darts and the wind. Which is still somewhat up in the air.

Ultra, how you frustrate me. I love using different ammo types, but you bring so little to the table besides cost! And maybe some screaming darts. Will you get better, or be too late to matter?

Bad Advertising, and Worse Results

When I first got to try out Ultra, Nerf had just finished filming their “Ultra Championship” (I merely got an invite to the launch/afterparty). Ultra was being advertised as the most accurate Nerf dart ever, but even then that seemed suspect. If you watch the video of us trying out the blasters, you can see cases of darts going around the targets being aimed at. Better than Elites? Sure. But most darts are. More importantly, Nerf Accustrike darts were far more accurate, and already compatible with existing blasters. At that point, the intentions were clear: hype the new ammo type that Hasbro exclusively makes.

Most people, however, caught on to the difference in marketing and real life. While the flagship Ultra One could spit out darts, it often didn’t even have the darts leaving the barrel straight. Modification just exaggerated the effect (I often just spammed high speed darts for suppression at games). The Ultra Two saw many other people with misaligned flywheels. For both blasters, the “Dart DRM” for the genuine ammo was often too sensitive, and would fail to fire even with the correct ammo.

From that point on, we saw Ultra blasters release out of order, and then finally just abandon the numbering scheme altogether. The spring-powered blasters could at least shoot darts straighter out of the barrel, but accuracy was still nowhere near what marketing would want you to think. Eventually, accuracy claims would get modified to only refer to Elites, then be dropped off the boxes altogether. With Adventure Force waffles on shelves and being accurate out of regular blasters for far cheaper ($0.05 a dart compared to $0.50), the marketing largely became useless. Range claims were still a thing, of course, and depending on the sample any reviewer got, you could make that 120′ distance. But hitting something that far away was unlikely unless your target was the side of your house.

In the end, we had more expensive blasters, more expensive ammo, and quite the community backlash to the new system. It was the “accuracy line” that wasn’t more accurate than things already on the market. By virtue of Hasbro being a juggernaut, blasters have sold, but enough to survive past the full introduction of the line?

Magazines are Good! Let’s Try Those!

Of course, now that we’ve reached the end of the known Ultra blasters, we have the Pharaoh and the Amp, both of which take magazines. Extra magazines range from $12 to $20, depending on retailer, but they do finally make a real loadout possible. See for yourself:

They at least make Ultra viable for games due to being able to sustain fire. Even so, the accuracy at distance is still lacking, and you’re safer just standing still, especially with wind.

It’s still not bringing anything new to the table, but it’s at least enjoyable, as opposed to a chore to wield in battle. In regular battle, mind you. I’m not even going to to try recommending you use Ultra against a Nexus Pro!

My Take: This Year is Do or Die

Ultra is plagued by marketing issues and technical issues alike. And due to the pandemic of the past year and the subsequent lack of trade shows, product information is scarce beyond what Hasbro decides to put out there. So we have no clue how many new blasters there might be. In the end, it comes down to a dart that doesn’t quite fit in anywhere, being larger and more expensive but not truly adding anything new (at least Walmart got the ones that make noise). The full loadouts are fun to do, but unless the Ultra dart truly gets reengineered to meet the initial promises, I’m not sure I see much of a future for the line. Outside of modifying them to fire other darts, that is.

In the meantime, I’ll try to at least enjoy it as much as other ammo types, because I’m strange like that.