Free-to-play. Spiritual successor. Homage.
These are not the sorts of things I like to hear bandied about when someone is showing off a new Ultima game. But that's exactly what Ultima Forever: Quest of the Avatar is: A free-to-play spiritual successor to Ultima 4 that is mean to be an homage to the beloved role-playing game franchise.
In the game, set to be released "soon" for free on iOS, players drop into a Britannia 21 years after the events of Ultima 4 and are sent on a mission by Lady British, daughter of the now-retired Lord British. (The game features Lady and not Lord most likely because franchise creator Richard Garriot retains the trademarks to the Lord British character.) The land is under attack by the Black Weep plague and Lady Britannia needs your help.
While the game has you working to solve the riddle of the Weep, players will still try to master the eight virtues of Ultima to become the avatar.
Watching an EA rep play the game, Ultima Forever looks a bit like a colorful Diablo. Characters are fully customizable with weapons and items, the game is designed to be played with simple screen tapping and can even by played with one hand.
The way the game makes money is through the sale of keys. Keys are used to unlock loot chests, the better your key, they better your loot. The free bronze keys unlock regular loot, while the better silver and gold keys mean better items. Players are rewarded with bronze keys, and can eventually trade up to silver, but gold are only for sale.
The fully explorable lands of Britannia include hundreds of dungeons, each designed to take about five minutes to complete. You can also coop up through the dungeons with up to four players. The game will launch with two classes and the ability to level up to 15 with ten abilities you can slot out.
Ultima Forever producer Carrie Gouskos said that it will take players about 200 hours to hit level 15, and that getting to the ultimate, avatar-achieving end of the game will likely take closer to 400 hours.
While the game will initially launch only on iOS, the developers are working on an Android version and a PC version "wouldn't be hard to do," Gouskos said.