Ultima Forever Hands-On Preview

Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar takes place 21 years after the events of Ultima IV. Thankfully (for younger gamers, anyway), you don’t need to be familiar the 1985 classic to be sucked into the world of Britainnia in the upcoming iOS game.

The story of Ultima Forever is that a purple goo called “The Weep” is slowly consuming the world, and it’s up to you– plus everyone else playing the game– to save it. This is a massively multiplayer RPG, so as you explore the game world, you’ll see plenty of other players doing the same thing. You can chat, band together, and raid dungeons together if you want.

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At the start, you choose to be either a Fighter or a Mage, then you start hacking away at quests to earn “virtue.” Virtue comes in eight different varieties, including justice, humility, and compassion. Choices you make in the quests and when interacting with non-playable characters in the game determine how your rank in the virtue categories. To succeed in the end-game, you’ll need to max out all of your virtue bars.

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The game consists of a huge fantasy world, full of towns, caves, and dungeons. Towns are full of NPCs with exclamation points hanging over their heads, indicating that they have a quest for you. Most quests take about five minutes to complete, so while it’s not as big as a game like Skyrim, it lends itself well to the mobile platform.

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The inventory system is deep, and the dungeons are full of loot. Most loot comes in treasure chests, and the quality of the loot you uncover depends on the type of key you use to open it. Keys come in bronze, silver, and gold, and you can only unlock rare loot by using gold keys (which themselves are rare and/or cost more real-life money via in-app purchase.

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Ultima Forever will be free-to-play, which should be no surprise, seeing as it’s being made by Electronic Arts. Look for the game to hit the App Store sometime this spring.

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