Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar preview: return to form

The Ultima series makes its debut on iOS with Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar, taking place 20 years after the events of Ultima IV.

The land of Britania is about to come to iOS, thanks to EA and Mythic Entertainment. Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar marks the Ultima's first time on mobile devices and returns players to a beloved time in the series. Ultima Forever will take place 20 years after 1985's Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar, widely considered one of the best games of the series. Lord British has ascended into the stars, leaving his daughter, Lady British, to take Britania's throne. The object is to, once again, become the avatar, as in Ultima IV. For the demo, I was taken on a tour through one of the game's many dungeons. Before entering from the overworld map, I noticed a pop-up that helpfully estimated how long the dungeon run would take. This particular one lasted about five minutes and featured much of the classic Ultima gameplay, including avoiding traps, opening chests, and fighting off monsters and sorcerers by using the touch screen. Chests would yield different contents depending on the key used. Impatient players can jump into the online store and buy gold keys to discover rare items, though lesser bronze and silver keys can be converted into gold when collected in-game. Keys dropped at a decent rate during my time with the game, so there doesn't seem to be any sign that the game is holding out for microtransactions.

Dialogue choices often result in consequences

While this particular dungeon quest was short, Ultima Forever will feature longer dungeons that feature scripted events and cutscenes. With Mythic now home to many former BioWare employees, the BioWare touch will be noticeable, as this game will feature over 130,000 lines of text. Later, I was taken into a town to help build up my character by talking to townspeople. Each conversation would bring up a dialogue tree, with each response building up a different aspect of Ultima's Eight Virtues. One thing that rang a sour note to me was that each dialogue choice specifically labeled which Virtue would be affected. This doesn't leave me with so much incentive to answer honestly, as I could simply keep responding with the answer that would raise the Virtue I wanted. "As you're playing through the game, depending on how you play, the Virtues will map differently," senior producer Carrie Gouskos told Shacknews. "Depending on what you do, how you act, the things you say, and who you talk to, you will create a different strategy for who you are and how you develop your personality." Beyond shaping your character, Virtues also craft your reputation. Many towns will emphasize one Virtue over another. If you enter a town without having built up the Virtue they value, you'll run into several restrictions. Villagers may receive you with more hostility and several items and shops will be closed off. One might wonder how faithful Ultima Forever will be, in light of series creator Richard Garriott carrying on with his own take on Britania's lore. Gouskos pointed out that not only was the team comprised of developers that grew up with the Ultima series, but that they had also reached out to Garriott, himself, who has freely offered his counsel to the development team. Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar can be played alone or with online co-op. The game is set to hit the App Store in July.
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Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
  • reply
    June 14, 2013 11:59 PM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar preview: return to form.

    The Ultima series makes its debut on iOS with Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar, taking place 20 years after the events of Ultima IV.

    • reply
      June 15, 2013 4:28 PM

      Ultima Forever: Quest for Money

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      June 15, 2013 4:33 PM

      It sounds cool but man, I just feel like an Ultima game shouldn't be free to play.

      So does this take place after 9 and you play as someone that's not the Avatar?

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        June 15, 2013 4:41 PM

        Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar, taking place 20 years after the events of Ultima IV

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          June 15, 2013 4:56 PM

          I forgot how far in the future the rest of the Ultima games are. I thought that when the Avatar went back to Earth, time flew by in Britannia pretty quickly.

          I know it's a really stupid thing to care about.

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            June 15, 2013 5:34 PM

            The next Ultimas jump ahead by a couple of decades, so this would take place before the events of Ultimas V and VI.

            The impression I got out of this was that they were trying to steer closer to the earlier Ultimas, as opposed to games like Ultima VIII: Pagan and Ultima IX: Ascension, when the series completely jumped off a cliff.

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              June 15, 2013 5:46 PM

              Yeah, that's what it looked like. I guess I was really just wondering if it pretended that 8 and 9 didn't exist.

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                June 15, 2013 8:01 PM

                U9 for certain, but I personally liked Pagan.

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        June 15, 2013 5:00 PM

        I don't think it's right since there is no more Lord British at the company

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          June 15, 2013 5:37 PM

          It's a jumbled rights issue, as EA still has the Ultima license, while Richard Garriott has the rights to Lord British. I'm at least hopeful for good things from this, since I was told that the devs working on this grew up with the classic Ultima games and that they have gone back and forth with Richard Garriott at several points for help. If nothing else, they're at least trying to make this feel like an Ultima game.

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      June 16, 2013 3:39 AM

      So I'm confused, please someone explain why there seems to be more hardware companies making Android devices for gaming and more software companies making games for apple.

      Makes sense no to me.

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