BioWare Mythic’s newly announced Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar has captured the attention of the gaming press, as all things Ultima ought to. Here’s a round-up of coverage that has come out today.
Many modern games ask players whether and how to do the right thing, but none quite like Ultima IV, according to BioWare Mythic’s Paul Barnett. But the 1985 role-playing game, which is renowned for its system of interacting virtues, has a few rusty hinges and rough edges.
“It’s like reading Chaucer,” Barnett said in an interview with GameSpot. “The controls are deeply inadequate, the graphics are horrible, the input system is byzantine at best.” That’s why his team’s remaking it with modern trappings–updated graphics, multiplayer, and action-RPG combat–and they’re making it free-to-play.
The game was announced earlier today via the new official website for the title that went up earlier today. As such, details are still relatively light, however Bioware is already trying to still the gaming community’s beating heart by assuring us that this is not a new MMO. It is rather a normal RPG set in the Ultima universe.
If the eight virtues of Honesty, Compassion, Valor, Justice, Sacrifice, Honor, Spirituality, and Humility mean anything to you, then today’s announcement that BioWare is launching a revamped version of Ultima IV probably means something to you as well.
Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar promises to be a “lovingly restored” version of the 1985 original that will be free to play on the PC and iPad, with cross-platform support allowing for cooperative play between the two platforms.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun: In Des Por-ate Times : Ultima Forever : Rock, Paper, Shotgun
I’d pay a substantial sum to visit Britannia again in a new adventure worthy of Ultima VII, which is, without a doubt, one of the games that made me. I probably wouldn’t play Ultima Forever even if it was free though and that’s at least partly because it’s free. EA/Bioware’s newly announced title is a “cross-platform action RPG” launching under the same Play4Free label as Battlefield Heroes. What price virtue, I wonder, and I mean it quite literally. How many tiny coins will I have to collect or purchase to redeem the virtues of Britannia. Scant details below.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be waking up in 2012 to news of a new Ultima game. But lo and behold, EA and BioWare have just announced a brand new entry in the series: Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar.
The action RPG will be free to play, and will be released for the PC and iPad platforms, allowing for cross-platform play (neat!). Ray Muzyka, Co-Founder of BioWare, explains a bit about the project, stating, “With Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar, we’re excited to give gamers the opportunity to play a high quality game with their friends anytime, anywhere, on both iPad and PC.”
BioWare Mythic (a division of Electronic Arts, which owns the Ultima franchise) is bringing back Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar in a big way. Coming via an early announcement at Comic-Con, Bioware Mythic will be releasing Ultima IV as an online (downloadable client-based) free-to-play reimplementation called Ultima Forever (it will also be available on the iPad).
Comic-Con is sure to be chock full of amazing announcements especially related to gaming, but this one is my favorite so far. That’s easy to say, as it’s the only one that I know of so far. Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar was one of the building blocks of my gaming education. It was the first RPG that drew me in and I think it’s fantastic it is now available online for a new generation of gamers to enjoy.
So if Ultima Forever is trying to avoid the known problems that casual and tablet games routinely face, and yet still be a free-to-play game, how does EA plan to make their money? “It’s not ‘energy,’ it’s not like a Facebook game,” Barnett confirmed. “The entire game can be completed for free, although it would take you a long time. You can play it and play it and play it and play it, and enjoy it and enjoy it and enjoy it and enjoy it, and ultimately what will happen is you’ll love it so much you’ll go, ‘you know what? I’m going to give you guys some cash.’”
BioWare Mythic and EA are banking on the time vs money trade-off. Some players have lots of time and little money; for other players, it’s the reverse. The latter, ideally, will translate their impatience into microtransaction purchases, a kind of shortcut Barnett himself often uses in tablet gaming: “I could do the quest to kill the giant and go and kill the dragon and kill the necromancer to get the rights to go and have my boat made… or I could give them a buck and just have the boat. And I want a boat, because I want to go and sail around the oceans. I don’t want to wait. I want a boat NOW.”
So speaking of impatience, when does the world get to look at Ultima Forever and decide if it’s a worthy successor to the franchise? EA hints only “later this year.” Barnett declined to elaborate, joking, “PR will chop my hands off if I say anything.”
Ultima Forever is a new free to play, cross platform action RPG from Bioware based, at least tangentially, on the classic Ultima RPG seies. You’ll be able to take control of the fighter or the mage and charge off on a quest to save the land of Brittania for Lady British. You can sign up for the beta now using your EA Origin account on the beta signup page. There aren’t any screenshots about so all we have to go on at the moment is a bit of concept art, which doesn’t exactly capture the spirit of Ultima. Scantily clad women in antlers, anyone?
The publisher has tonight announced Ultima Forever, a cross-platform, free-to-play RPG that’s being developed by BioWare and which will be published under EA’s Play 4 Free label, the same place you find games like Battlefield Heroes.
Boasting a cartoon aesthetic, having you control the “Avatar” and mentioning “Lady British”, it’s at least closer to the source material than the ill-advised Lord of Ultima. Whether or not EA’s claim that “the first great Western RPG has been lovingly restored in Ultima Forever” rings true or not, we’ll have to actually play it to find out.
GameBanshee: Ultima Forever Revealed, Free to Play
Although there have long been rumors of a new Ultima game in development for years now, and we even saw a web site for an upcoming game appear briefly last year, it seems that it’s now official: Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar’s web page has just gone live!
So far, details of the game are very scant, but from the looks of the web page, it will be a free-to-play game targeting Facebook and/or mobile platforms.
Virtues are a system that play heavily in Ultima Forever. You level them up in a variety of ways, including some that encourage multiplayer. For instance, your “Sacrifice” virtue is tied to helping other players, which Barnett and company have integrated into a system wherein high level players can temporarily lower their level in order to assist a lower-level player. At the end of a dungeon, the high-level player won’t earn nearly as many rewards as the lower level-player for completing the quest, but they will earn progress in their Sacrifice virtue.
…though Barnett says it has “a lot” of players in it. “It’s very tribal in the way we’re building it,” he explained. The game is a small-group affair, with “tactical, positional” combat that is less about hotbar abilities and more about where your characters stand, what kind of equipment they have, and how you use your abilities together.
Of course, we here at the Ultima Codex have launched our Ultima Forever portal; check it out in the coming days and weeks as we (hopefully!) expand it with game media and other content!