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Concept art courtesy of EA
Last week at Comic-Con, EA announced that it's bringing Ultima Forever, a free-to-play action RPG from BioWare based on the 1985 title, Ultima IV, to the iPad. (Fun fact: Ultima IV was originally first launched for the Apple II.) Players will be able to start a game on their PC and continue the storyline on the iPad. While cross-platform gaming is not a foreign concept to the ever-expanding world of mobile games, this particular title takes a radical new approach. "It's a very high concept idea, but what we hope is that by bringing it to the iPad and presenting it in a very slick way, that it will appeal to a lot of different people," says Kate Flack, Lead Designer at BioWare Mythic. Unlike Zynga's titles, which are app- or browser-based, EA's new title allows players to fully immerse in the Ultima Forever game world by literally being able to pick up where they left off in the desktop version.
Currently, there isn't much information available on Ultima Forever other than that the game takes place in the fictional land of Brittania and the players must fight to protect their world for Lady British. The game is single player and will feature eight different quests to master. Like the original games, Ultima Forever relies heavily on ethics, and will have players dealing with highly sophisticated elements, such as spirituality. "It's a game all about who you are--like a personality quiz," says Flack. "You'll find yourself in situations where you're asked if you'd rather be kind or fair. It's challenging you to think about who you are and what you really believe in." Ultima Forever will also incorporate storytelling tactics similiar to ts sister games, Dragon Age and Mass Effect.
Ultima Forever will enable tap-to-control game mechanics on the iPad and play time will be limited to 15-minute increments. To make the game size efficient, it will also implement backgrounds that are hand-painted and tile-based so that they are looped rather than constantly generated. Texture sizes and sound packs are also built to fit the iPad, so 16GB iPad owners will be able to enjoy the game in its full capacity without worrying about it taking up precious gigabyte space. "We built it specifically with the iPad in mind," adds Flack.
Ultima Forever will be free to play and you can sign up for the beta now. There are no current details on whether the desktop version will be available for the Mac.