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EA BioWare announces Ultima Forever

Update: on PC and iPad "later this year".

Update: The official Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar press release has arrived. It will be a PC and iPad game, and be released later this year.

Ultima Forever will have "fully integrated" cross-platform play, and "rich and deep" RPG elements.

BioWare Mythic is developing the game. This must be the project Warhammer Online orator Paul Barnett is leading.

"There's a fundamental shift underway in how gamers play and pay for games..." commented BioWare co-founder, and BioWare label general manager, Ray Muzyka.

"With Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar, we're excited to give gamers the opportunity to play a high quality game with their friends anytime, anywhere, on both iPad and PC."

Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar will be free-to-play.

Original story: Ultima has returned - EA has revived "the first great Western RPG" and turned it into cartoony, cross-platform action RPG called Ultima Forever.

"The first great Western RPG has been lovingly restored in Ultima Forever," the website spouted.

"Return to the Ultima series in BioWare's new cross-platform action RPG.

"Accept the challenge from Lady British and save the land of Britannia. Play as the Fighter or the Mage and travel alone or with friends, restore virtue and become the Avatar!"

Ultima Forever exists under the more casual Play 4 Free label at EA, like Battlefield Heroes does. You can sign up for the beta test on the Ultima Forever website.

There are character renders of the Fighter and Mage on the official Ultima Forever website. They're a bit Torchlight-y; the Fighter bulky and generously shouldered, the Mage skinnier with a mystical goatee.

"Fighters are one-man armies, trained to engage multiple opponents with a wide variety of attacks," apparently. "Protect your allies and rain down a barrage of deadly attacks on enemies."

The Mage: "With a staff in hand and a spell on their lips, Mages are ready to engage in battle from afar. Use your magical know how to vanquish enemies and assist your allies."

The only other scrap of information available is a world map, which looks similar enough, geographically, to the Ultima Online world. There's a piece of gypsy concept art, too.

Ultima Online figurehead Richard Garriott won't be a part of this project. He's busy at his new company Portalarium making his own spiritual successor to Ultima Online, tentatively called Ultimate RPG / New Britannia.

Ultima Online in 2007, when it was Reborn.

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