BioWare Mythic's Ultima Forever is a free to play MMORPG

Posted by Shane McGlaun

One of the first RPG games I ever played was from the Ultima franchise. As you may recall, Ultima IV originally debuted back in 1985 and was perhaps best known for its virtues system.

Looking back, the game is absolutely lacking, at least compared to modern standards. Fortunately, Ultima IV is getting a complete refresh by none other than BioWare Mythic.

Yes, the game will be revamped with modern graphics, slick multiplayer  combat and optimized controls.

As BioWare Mythic's Paul Barnett noted, playing the original Ultima IV game is like reading Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

"The controls are deeply inadequate, the graphics are horrible, the input system is byzantine at best," he opined.

The refreshed, free to play game will be titled "Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar" when it goes live for the iPad and PC.

However, it is probably safe to assume that while the title is free to play, you may need to to spend some real money for in-game upgrades to enjoy a full Ultima experience. Indeed, Barnett stated that his team learned more than a few lessons from the recently discontinued free to play EA2D project.

"It [EA2D] had a lot of good ideas in it, it struggled to find a long-term audience, and perhaps was too aggressive with its monetization policy," he said.

According to Barnett rather than so-called glass walls that prevent people from advancing in the game without spending money, Ultima Forever will instead allow players to buy faster means of transport and offer the ability to fast travel throughout the world. One thing that will certainly make it to the new game is the virtue system from the 1985 original.

"Virtue is how you treat other people, in lots of games that's how you treat NPCs," explained lead designer Kate Flack. "We want to take that same idea of how you treat other people and then apply it to the players."

One interesting aspect of the virtue system would work like this: New players can earn virtue for requesting help on a mission, while experienced players can earn virtue for temporarily reducing their level to help new players on certain quests.

"The idea that it's finding out who you are, that there's a difference between who you claim you are and who you actually are in the game... Hopefully, if we've done it right, what it's actually hearkening back to is that good storytelling that we used to do in the past, when the technology was a lot simpler," Barnett added.