Ultima Forever is BioWare’s next online RPG

ultima forever is biowares next online rpg screen shot 2012 07 12 at 11 32 20 am

As Electronic Arts and BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic struggles to find and retain an audience of Jedi and space pirates willing to pay $15 per month for massively multiplayer online adventures, both publisher and studio are also searching for their roots. Are galaxy-spanning melodramas really what MMOs need? Weren’t things better once upon a time? Just as the middle-aged hipster breaks out his cargo shorts, skateboard, and that copy of REM’s Automatic for the People in an attempt to rediscover the simplicity of youth, EA and BioWare are plumbing the online role-playing genre’s past for inspiration. Their next project: Ultima Forever, a free-to-play online action-RPG for iPad and PC.

A remake of Richard Garriot and Origin System’s 1985 classic Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar, Ultima Forever is both an attempt to revitalize a seminal but antiquated game as well as cement BioWare and EA’s position in the burgeoning free-to-play market.

The studio creating Ultima Forever actually has a richer history in the online space than BioWare proper. BioWare Mythic, formerly Mythic Entertainment, is making the game. Its resume includes Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning and, most significantly, Dark Age of Camelot, a foundational MMO released in 2001.

BioWare Mythic’s Paul Barnett, on of the key designers on Warhammer, spoke to GameSpot on Thursday about the game. “[Playing Ultima IV] is like reading Chaucer. The controls are deeply inadequate, the graphics are horrible, the input system is byzantine at best,” said the designer.

His team is updating the game in more than just mechanical ways though. The original RPG’s central system was Virtues. The game included eight Virtues which defined class, but in order to succeed in the game, you had to become enlightened in all Virtues and the only way to do that was through your actions in the game. It’s very much in BioWare’s wheelhouse of games about ethical dilemmas. Ultima Forever will transform these virtuous interactions though into something that takes place between players and not non-player characters. “Virtue is how you treat other people, in lots of games that’s how you treat NPCs,” said lead designer Kate Flack, “We want to take that same idea of how you treat other people and then apply it to the players.”

How will free-to-play work in Ultima Forever? BioWare Mythic says most transactions will be for transportation through the world. Pretty tricky way of milking cash money from players looking to squeeze as much game time in as possible.

Ultima Forever will be out later this year.

Product Review

Hue who? Nanoleaf Canvas brings a riot of color and vibrancy to the smart home

Fun and festive, Nanoleaf Canvas feature lighting adds personality and vibrancy to any room. Nanoleaf Canvas features squares that you can connect in any configuration you’d like. Sync to music, play games, or relax in soothing light.

Cops called to handle ‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’ noise end up playing the game

A group of friends were playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on the Nintendo Switch when cops arrived to respond to noise complaints from neighbors. In an unexpected twist, the officers ended up playing the game, too.

Put down the controller and pick up the best phones for gaming on the go

Which phones are the best if all you want to do is play some mobile games? We've done the hard work and put together a list of the best gaming phones on Android and iOS, so you can keep playing and winning.

Itching to fight in an online match with friends in 'SSB Ultimate'? Here's how

You can play online against your friends in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, but it isn't quite as simple as you might expect from a multiplayer game in 2018. Here's how you can do so using the Battle Arena system.

Grabbing a Switch for the holidays? Here's what you need to know to play online

If you want to play online multiplayer on Switch, you'll need a Nintendo Switch Online subscription. Here's what you need to know about Nintendo Switch Online, from price to features to the awesome library of NES games.

You're not a true fan without these Nintendo Switch exclusives

Who doesn't love a good Nintendo game? If you're looking for great first-party titles for your Nintendo Switch, take a look at our list of the very best exclusives available right now.

Check out the best deals from GameStop’s Game Days Sale

GameStop has hundreds of games available for discounted prices between now and December 25 as part of its Game Days Sale. We checked out the deals and have rounded up all of the best Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One deals here.

Trash at 'Super Smash Bros. Ultimate'? Use this guide to train up and get good

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the biggest game in the entire series, and it can be overwhelming for newcomers not used to the universe-colliding fighting game. Here's what you need to know when you're starting.

Where we droppin’ (presents)? Perfect ‘Fortnite’ gifts for the fans in your life

Chances are someone on your holiday shopping list is a fan of Fortnite. As the most popular game on the planet, there are plenty of Fortnite-themed gift options available for purchase in stores and online. Here are the best ones we found.

Have a spooky dance party at an abandoned mansion with Fortnite's new challenges

The Fortnite season 7, week 2 challenges have arrived in Battle Royale. From searching for chests to dancing off at an abandoned mansion, here's how to do them and the rewards you get for completing them.

The Super NES Classic is the perfect holiday gift for Nintendo lovers

Whether you're a long-time Nintendo fan looking to relive the 16-bit glory days or just doing some holiday shopping, the SNES Classic -- now in stock at multiple retailers for $80 -- might just be the perfect Christmas gift for gamers of…

Sega Genesis classics now playable on Amazon Fire TV, no retro console required

Sega released the SEGA Classics app for Amazon Fire TV devices, allowing gamers to play Sega Genesis classics without having to buy a retro console. The $15 app contains 25 games, including three remastered Sonic titles.

Turn your Raspberry Pi into a Steam streaming hub with Valve’s Steam Link app

Valve's Steam Link app is now fully supported by Raspberry PI hardware, meaning that just about anyone with a few dollars to spare can build their own Steam streaming box in a matter of minutes.

Nintendo pulls the plug on making more SNES Classic, NES Classic systems

Nintendo extended production of the NES Classic and SNES Classic into 2018, but once the current supply of consoles is gone, the company won't be making more. Instead, you'll have to use Nintendo Switch Online.