In Des Por-ate Times: Ultima Forever

By Adam Smith on July 12th, 2012 at 4:00 pm.

BUMS OF VIRTUE

I’d pay a substantial sum to visit Britannia again in a new adventure worthy of Ultima VII, which is, without a doubt, one of the games that made me. I probably wouldn’t play Ultima Forever even if it was free though and that’s at least partly because it’s free. EA/Bioware’s newly announced title is a “cross-platform action RPG” launching under the same Play4Free label as Battlefield Heroes. What price virtue, I wonder, and I mean it quite literally. How many tiny coins will I have to collect or purchase to redeem the virtues of Britannia. Scant details below.

These really are the most boring details ever but let’s see if we can create a little excitement. There are TWO classes to choose from, although more MAY be announced. The first is a FIGHTER with a body so robust that he is actually a CUBE and looks a bit like he fell out of TORCHLIGHT. The FIGHTER will protect his ALLIES and smite his enemies.

What about that mage, EH? He’s skinny and has a staff in his HAND and a spell on his LIPS. He’ll assist his ALLIES, which is a bit like protecting them but WITH SPELLS.

You and your CHUMS will, presumably, TRAVEL across BRITANNIA fighting all sorts of MONSTERS but taking time out to GET PISSED IN VARIOUS PUBS. Then you’ll lie on a BEDROLL under the stars, MURDER EVERYONE IN THE NEXT TOWN for no reason other than to PUSH AT THE INCREDIBLY FLEXIBLE BOUNDARIES OF THIS INCREDIBLY INCREDIBLE WORLD and realise that you could HAPPILY SPEND YOUR LIFE THERE.

Or not. Maybe not.

I think it’s the invitation to accept “the challenge from Lady British” that made me actively grumpy. Lord British is away, you see, so it’s only natural to have a Lady version to take his place. If she invites people to the challenge while wearing a push-up bra or a chainmail bikini I’ll probably explode and be dead.

Thankfully, the reason Lord British can’t be with us in Ultima Forver is because he’s working on his own New Britannia which…IS A BLOODY SOCIAL NETWORK GAME? Crumbs. Maybe they’ll both be brilliant but I worry that next year I’ll be writing about Ultima and Robin.

Beta signups for Ultima Forever, which is coming to PC and iPad, are now open.

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106 Comments »

  1. Chmilz says:

    Horsecock

  2. Thirith says:

    Adam, I’ll gladly join you in paying that substantial sum. I’d even go so far to kidnap some EA exec’s wittle doggie and putting a magic sword against its adorable widdle head. (Are you also a console player in addition to being a PC man? The closest I’ve come to the Ultima VII feeling is Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption, strangely enough.)

    • Quarex says:

      Exactly.

      This is the first gaming news that has made me angry in … how long ago was it that Electronic Arts revealed they were shitting on the name “Origin?” That long.

  3. Cerzi says:

    It was Ultima Online that made me. The mere existence of Ultima Forever will be heavily attributed to my unmaking.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      I remain in a state of perpetual disappointment that almost nobody has tried to replicate the best parts of pre-2000 Ultima Online. Player housing. Boats! Clothes that could be worn over armor. No classes, no levels, no gear treadmill. The ability to play as a pure crafter.

      The scant few MMOs that attempt something like UO wind up focusing so heavily on PvP to the exclusion of all the other fun parts. Bah.

      • Xardas Kane says:

        While hardly doing the same thing, I find EVE Online to be very close to UO’s overall gameplay feel. No levels, no farming for gear, a universe that’s shaped by the players but does not require you to PVP at all. And you can be a full time crafter if you want to.

  4. Asuron says:

    What is it now? The third time EA have killed this franchise? I’m not sure I haven’t been keeping track

    Anyways as far as I can tell this game goes completely against everything the original Ultima games were based around. I’ve never played them but that seems to be the consensus from people who have. My question is do EA even understand what type of game IP they have here? Are any Ultima fans here going to be interested in the direction of this game at all, especially considering that EA wrecked the series once before?

    To top it all off its being made by Bioware has absolutely no meaning anymore. Half the studios at EA are called Bioware, which one is making it. I highly doubt it involves the studios which made DA and ME and the only people involved in Ultima games would know this. I dunno it just seems like its doomed to fail.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      It really is a rather odd thing to do. But then this is the company that went through exactly the same baffling decision process once before and ended up with Syndicate.

      Hmm their formula must be something like:

      profit = people who will buy anything + people familiar with franchise but no real idea of what it is - (cost of coming up with something new + people who do not look kindly on bastardisation of beloved franchise + people who are more discerning about how to spend their money) + how much DLC we can flog

    • FhnuZoag says:

      Yes, as far as I can tell, it’s by what used to be EA Mythic. Aka the Warhammer Online, Dark Age of Camelot people.

    • ClockworkTiger says:

      There is the possiblity that it’s not even a real studio making it. When EA was going nuts renaming all of their studios to “Bioware”, Several full time employees, a bunch of pets, a few children, at least one intern, and an EA executive’s penis were all accidently renamed “Bioware”.

  5. 2late2die says:

    I think I just puked a little. Ugh!
    See, this is what bad play4free gets you! 2 classes and the lamest game description ever – that’s how they’re trying to sell it. It’s beyond pathetic.

    I can’t imagine anyone, even someone relatively new to gaming, and/or someone not familiar with Ultima, would mistake this for anything other than a pathetic cash grab and abuse of IP.

  6. Godwhacker says:

    VAS CORP

    • Bluerps says:

      VAS KAL AN MANI IN CORP HUR TYM

      • bard says:

        VAS KAL AN MANI IN CORP HUR TYM

        So – Greater Summoning (of) negating-Life causing Death Wind (of) Time

        Son I think your spellcasting suffers from several problems!

        • aepervius says:

          That’s the armageddon spell in U7. IIRC only you and lord british survive it. There might have even been a funny dialogue or something when you speak to him after casting it.

          • Morlock says:

            Batlin survives Armageddon as well, and leaves you with a couple of great dialogue lines.

          • bard says:

            I actually didn’t remember that – huh.

            But then again playing UO for seven years kinda turned all that came before to mush in my head.

    • FataMorganaPseudonym says:

      VAS DEFERENS

  7. asshibbitty says:

    First Great Western RPG. I’d play that RPG.

  8. Simas says:

    Uhm, is EA trolling us now? Lady British? Why even use the Ultima name here? Given the graphical style and gameplay description – they are clearly not aiming at anyone who has played old Ultimas. So if it’s for the new generation of gamers – why even bother with the name?

    • Torgen says:

      They’re aiming for the people who played Evon^H^H^H Lords of Ultima, I guess.

    • bwion says:

      They’re aiming for the people who might say “Hey, you haven’t used that Ultima trademark for a while, maybe you don’t *really* want to keep control of it.”

    • DCT says:

      Well I can’t comment on the rest but the reason why they have Lady British and not Lord British is because Richard Garriott owns the rights to the name and character of Lord British, always had

  9. SanguineAngel says:

    What a bunch of Ninnyhammers

  10. Bluerps says:

    This is just dumb. How many gamers are both fans of Ultima and like to play cheap ARPGs (or browser games, for that matter)?

    To let Bioware develop this (whatever that means) is even dumber.
    Yeah, sure. This will be the Dragon Age of ARPGs. It must be, it’s from Bioware!

  11. goldark says:

    This is just wrong, I’m an Ultima fan from a long time, and what really saddens me is that thanks to EA the franchise has been utterly ravaged, so much that there’s nothing left. For me Ultima is dead, well, almost, I still patiently wait the remake of Ultima IX (http://www.cfkasper.de/ultima/index.php), I even bought Morrowind specifically for that purpose (it was a good purchase anyway).

    EA is the exact oposite of King Midas: they corrupt everything they touch.

  12. Soon says:

    TWO MAY FIGHTER CUBE TORCHLIGHT
    FIGHTER ALLIES EH?
    HAND LIPS ALLIES WITH SPELLS
    CHUMS TRAVEL BRITANNIA
    MONSTERS GET PISSED IN VARIOUS PUBS
    BEDROLL MURDER EVERYONE IN NEXT TOWN
    PUSH AT THE INCREDIBLY FLEXIBLE BOUNDARIES OF THIS INCREDIBLY INCREDIBLE WORLD
    HAPPILY SPEND YOUR LIFE THERE
    IS A BLOODY SOCIAL NETWORK GAME

    Is how I read this article.

  13. Enzo says:

    The fuck is this

  14. zeroskill says:

    Thanks EA, you’re the best.

  15. MythArcana says:

    Pew pew.

  16. gritz says:

    God fucking damn everything.

  17. Jason Moyer says:

    I’m starting to think EA just keeps resurrecting old franchises so that when the reboots fail they can say “see, I told you there was a reason we didn’t make any more of those games. Now shut up about System Shock 3 already.”

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Bold prediction: The next game EA announces will be Alpha Centauriville.

      • arccos says:

        And will be about raising cute centaurs in space.

      • dawnmane says:

        Shhhhhhhhhhhhh! Don’t say stuff like that! This might be the way gaming as an art form dies definitively: The few games that actually came close to being art will be “remade” (the word has an almost China Mieville-esque ring to it in this context) and commercialized to death. Horrible. Horrible.

    • DCT says:

      There is going to be no System Shock 3 from EA since they don’t own the series, they only had the exclusive publishing rights Looking Glass owned the actual System Shock ip which sadly is now in the holding with a insurance company.

  18. Safewood says:

    I don’t think this will be the ultimate game which is remembered forever. (sorry)

  19. crsuch says:

    This is the saddest news since Lords of Ultima, or the death of Ultima Online 2, or Ultima Online’s inclusion of Trammel…. or Ultima 9

    My mind tells me to give up on the series, but my heart tells me to hang on to something.

    Ultima Online “made me” and I’m always waiting for that perfect mixture that UO somehow achieved. I’ll go cry now.

    • FataMorganaPseudonym says:

      Don’t forget Ultima 8. EA has been ruining Ultima for less than two years shy of a full two decades now.

      • Soon says:

        8 was great.

        • aepervius says:

          Depends on what you call rgeat. Was the gameplay nice ? Yes. Was the story nice ? Pretty much no. The avatar come , and literraly completely mess up a world, the virtues be damned, just to go back to britania. I think it should be named the anti-ultima.

          • crsuch says:

            I actually really liked 8 also. Regardless 7 was a very very hard act to follow. Was the story good? Yes. Did it fit with the previous lore? not really, but it was still an amazing world to explore.

  20. Tuor says:

    Bollocks.

  21. Hoaxfish says:

    EA: Hey kids! Do you like games?
    Kids: YEA!
    EA: Do you know what’s more fun than playing with games?
    Kids: Uh?
    EA: Ruining them! with your new F2P reboot!
    Kids: yeaaa…?

    All: It’s EA’s reboot policy! It’s EA’s reboot policy just for me!
    I’ve got the business practise that removes everything that’d I’d want to see!
    It’s EA’s reboot policy! It’s EA’s reboot policy just for me!

    Kid 1: I’ve got these old games
    Kid 2: and I’ve got this box of memories

    All: So destroy them with focusing grouping and breath in the PR bullshittery
    It’s EA’s reboot policy just for me!

    (to the tune of the Little Inferno trailer)

  22. razorblade79 says:

    I can’t wait to be disappointed! A game by the new shit Bioware. That can only be really samey to everything else in the freemium space.

    I’m still such a sucker for Ultima that I’ll check out the beta to see if they at least kept anything of the geography intact :[

  23. Didero says:

    Since I didn’t grow up with Ultima, would somebody mind explaining what’s special about the series? I feel like I’m missing out.

    • Kulvurt says:

      Could be worth you checking out the Ultima series reviews by Spoony, they do a good job of stating what made the games great.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      It was the first crpg to properly tackle “adult” themes (sex, murder, drugs, cultism) in a mature way and thus treat the player as a mature person. It had witty dialogue, hours of exploration and fun things to see and do. At the time, it was technically superb, and there’s no doubt that it paved the way for many modern crpgs.

      Read the reviews over at Gog, or the RPS tag for more reasons.

      • Maxheadroom says:

        Despite being old enough to remember the 70′s (just) the Ultima games passed me by too. I think by the time i had a pc powerful enough to run them they were on like Ultma 6 or something and I felt I’d missed the boat.

        Spoony’s Ultima retrospective is a great jumping off point though and well worth a watch, although recognising how ground breaking they were now does make me sad that I didnt take the time to experience them the first time round

    • DCT says:

      Ultima was a experimental series of RPGs, I say experimental because Richard Garriott would always do new things with each installment of the series from introducing a party based system in Exodus to the virtues, morality, and conversation trees or a early form of them in Quest of the Avatar, other inovations that orginiated in Ultima games, open world sandbox game play, npc schedules, day and night cycles, interactable worlds, real time action combat(Pagan), early 3d Ultima Underworld 1+2 and so on. The best of the series is Ultima 7 though the combat is weak as hell in that game but it had the most flesh out world of any rpg and ground breaking interactable world you could turn on street lights, kill people grab their corpses and get them resurrected by Lord British, hell you could even harvest wheat in the fields,fetch water from the well grind it into flour add water to make dough and bake it to make bread, you can even temper blades at a forge and make a sword.

  24. Krimson says:

    Okay, but will you have to murder a room full of children to complete the game?

  25. derbefrier says:

    Call me old fashioned but i prefer to play a game first before i condemn it. Just because its not gonna be a hardcore crpg doesn’t mean it wont be fun and with so little info available the only reason i can see to hate on it at the moment is that hating on EA is the cool thing to do. I expect that from the man-children commenting here but not a respectful gaming site I suppose its my fault for setting my standards to high i guess.

  26. ffordesoon says:

    DOOM. DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM.

    To look on the bright side for a moment, I think it might at least be interesting. The two classes (just call them Melee and Ranged and get it over with) don’t exactly inspire confidence, but…

    Well, I’ve signed up for the beta, anyway.

  27. duncanthrax says:

    EA – Destroyer of Worlds

  28. fish99 says:

    Ultima Underworld was undoubtedly one of the games that was made.

  29. JackDandy says:

    This seems like a really cruel joke.

    “The new Ultima game is a F2P action RPG made by Bioware! And now Lord British is a girl!”

    Euch.

  30. lowprices says:

    Oh you old folk. Always grumbling that new things aren’t the same as old things. You realise the appearance of new things you don’t like doesn’t cause the old things you do like to retroactively vanish, right?

    • gritz says:

      It’s funny you say that, because thanks to this new game, Ultimaforever.com no longer has a free download link for the original Ultima 4.

      (You can still get it at GOG, sure.)

  31. Enkinan says:

    Sigh. Fuck you EA.

  32. Uthred says:

    Theres an interview with Paul Barnett, creative director at BioWare Mythic, on Kotaku (http://kotaku.com/5925250/ultima-is-going-free+to+play-heres-how-it-just-might-work) where he says, and I quote:

    “It’s like when someone tells you to read Chaucer,” Barnett commented. “I know it’s supposed to be brilliant, but it’s incomprehensible!” Shifting from literature to film, he compared it to Battleship Potemkin, a 1925 Soviet film that pioneered many techniques that nearly all movies have used since. “I mean, I’m aware that Battleship Potemkin defined modern cinema, but it’s not a great view. You watch it and go, ‘it’s black and white and a bit crap, I’d rather watch something else.’ And that’s basically the problem we’ve been faced with, is how to reimagine and reboot a classic and make it so that there’s a new generation that can have an Ultima.”

    “Its black and white and a bit crap”, Wow.

    • DCT says:

      Well honestly that does sound like something most people would say about that, I heard people dis Citizen Kane because it was black and white and nothing happened but talking for over 2 hours.

    • Subject 706 says:

      Yeargh, that Barnett guy seems beyond creatively bankrupt in that interview. That plus all the obvious pr-idiotspeak lines he has been fed makes me want to kill.

    • Arglebargle says:

      ‘Creative’ Director? Right. It’s like dissing Kurosawa because the swordfight per minute quota is too low.

      The actual expression of their bogosity is even worse than I imagined, and I can imagine some pretty awful things.

      I don’t think this will end well….

    • oceanview says:

      This.. I don’t even. What the fuck am I reading.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I can’t speak for anything else, but he’s sort of right about Chaucer. I had to read the unmodernized version of Troilus and Cressida for a class, and it was brutal. It took me about an hour to get through 20 pages of text, and the I would have a vague idea of what was said. I had to read the version in standard modern English to understand the book well enough to talk about it intelligibly, and then would read the old version out loud to get a sense of rhythm.

      He just phrased it poorly. It’s by no means bad, it’s just inaccessible.

    • Torgen says:

      Good God, what a shallow, vapid person. I can safely write off anything he’s “creatively directing” from the start, and not waste my time.

  33. PearlChoco says:

    So what’s up with the subtitle? “Quest for the Avatar TM”

    Is the Avatar now your boss and you have to do a quest for him?
    Or is it the Quest for a long lost figurine, called ‘the Avatar’?

    This game will obviously have a deep and complex storyline, mark my words.

  34. Wizardry says:

    R.I.P. Ultima.

    No, wait, it’s not 1994 any more.

    • Hematite says:

      OMG! You just reminded me that Savage Empire and Martian Dreams are free on GOG.com. Who would have thought that good would come of this news?

  35. MadTinkerer says:

    I’m like “Huh. Well it’s not as inherently horrible as Lords of Ultima. I’ll sign up just to have a proper look.”

    Then they tell me to enter my email and log on to Origin.

    Words fail me.

    • DCT says:

      There just using Origin accounts for the game not the client , Ubisoft does the same with Uplay for their f2p games saves on account management and all that.

      • MadTinkerer says:

        Yes, but Ubisoft didn’t name UPlay after the company they ate to acquire the IP they’re using to make the game.

        I was trying to ignore it for the sake of giving the game a chance, but it just reminded me of a jarring bit of betrayal. I’ll probably be over it in a bit, but the irony just hit me hard in the face.

        EDIT: And, oh yeah, I’m aware that the person who decided to name Origin that probably didn’t think of the connection, but that just proves how fucking insensitive the entire deal is.

  36. malkav11 says:

    It’s a dumb, chintzy looking webpage. And I would by no means hold high hopes for this game. But literally all that we know about it right now is that Bioware is making it, you can play either a fighter or a mage, it will be an action RPG (which is a term that covers a broad, broad spectrum of cases up to and including Ultima VII, you know, the Ultima most people seem to regard as the best game in the entire franchise), and there will be the option to play cooperatively. Oh, and that it will use some variety of free to play payment model. Is this really enough detail to conclude that the game will be a terrible travesty that ruins the franchise name? Really? Cause in my book, that’s not enough to conclude a damn thing.

  37. Valkesh says:

    Those bastards just couldn’t leave the Ultima IP alone. They needed to dig up it’s corpse and do unspeakable things to it. Can’t you honor the memory of at least one god damn thing EA?

  38. Stackler says:

    Ah… the “Bioware” logo at the bottom.

    No wonder this piece of triceratops crap is made by the same idiots that fucked up SWTOR, Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect 3.

    These companies are a complete joke and it gets worse every announcement they make.

  39. Gentlemoth says:

    Oh how far Bioware has fallen.

    And don’t even start with “Oh no its EA who’s doing it”, Bioware for all intents and purposes is EA. They’re not a Blizzard which can still call most of its own shots. EA slaps their(Bioware’s) name on every new title in the hopes of garnering some extra money through brand loyalty recognition, completely oblivious to the fact that they are saturating their own name to the point of worthlessness.

    There was a time when Bioware used to mean something. Great RPGs and good stories. Now… I don’t even know what they are now.

  40. alienkun says:

    My soul died…. again =/

  41. Scrofa says:

    IN LOR for Christ’s sake, I can’t see shit!

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