541650_largerSometimes you want your villain to have a face. Perhaps it’s Voldemort, Thanos, Zod or some creepy dude with a villainous “muahahaha” laugh. Then, there are the villains who have no faces. In the case of Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar [Free], you’re up against The Black Weep. No, this isn’t a group of Templars; rather, it’s a vile sickness - much like Resident Evil’s T-Virus - that turns its infected into headless-undead abominations. You’ve got to become the Avatar of Renown and save the world. Let the hero’s quest begin.

This top-down MMO isn’t really about story. The canned tale is in place solely to give you a reason to party up with Facebook friends or stragglers to fight through the dungeons of Britannia.

When you check out the world map, you’ll notice that there is a wealth of dungeons that become available as you level up.

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But hold the phone. This is a freemium game. You know what that means, right? Pay wall and IAPs.

Wrong!

Oddly enough, there’s no discernable pay wall in this game. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to commit to some level grinding, dungeon crawling action every so often. But if you’re up for an MMO, you’re probably used to JRPG grinding already. I know I am.

Navigating through Britannia is as easy as tapping where you want your character to go and he/she will follow your finger. There’s no messy d-pad or other pesky control mechanism to clutter the HUD and block you from seeing the lush landscape and the attractive medieval architecture.

NPC interaction is also fun since it’s directly tied to leveling up. Sometimes NPC’s will send you on the typical fetch quest. They may be searching for a lost friend or ask you to find some special herbs to heal the sick. Then, there are the NPC’s who have come to a crossroads in their life. They’ll ask you a question and depending on how you answer it, you will be rewarded with various virtue points. This in turn boosts your reputation within the town.

screen1136x1136-1Combat is as straightforward as navigation. You see some green slime, an archer or a giant Hodor-looking character out of Game of Thrones moving towards you and you just tap on it to launch an attack. Players can also activate one of their special abilities for stronger attacks. Fighters generally attack up close, while Mages can attack at close range or from a distance. As a mage, sometimes the character will run up to the enemy and launch the attack up close – even though you intended to launch a ranged attack. It always sucks when this happens. Weapons and armor are both subject to damage. The more they get damaged, the weaker they are in combat. Whenever your wizard runs up to an enemy, you’re basically asking for your staff or wizard robes to be ruined.

In order to fix weapons, you have to spend keys. Bronze, silver and gold keys represent the in-game currency. Bronze keys can be converted into silver keys, but gold keys can only be found or purchased. You can also sign up for random promotions from commercial sponsors in order to get “free” gold keys. When you open treasure chests, you will have the option to use one of the three types of keys to open it. Gold keys will reward you with the best loot. However, you can get by if you only use silver keys. You can also revisit earlier dungeons in order to farm more bronze keys to convert into silver keys.

While most early dungeons can be fought on your own, it’s always best to find a party of at least three players. Usually if you stand outside a dungeon, you can hang around for a few people to join your party or someone will request that you join their party. Party members can advise you on what to do next through the text chat or give you some extra advice on solving a dungeon puzzle. The dungeon puzzles aren’t too hard, but there are rooms that require a two to three person party to get to a special treasure chest.

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Unfortunately, the party system does have some nagging issues. Sometimes the characters disappear off the screen and all you will see is their name floating around without a body. Then there are times when players will lag out. Also, like any other party-based game, there are those players who tend to just drop. If you get booted from the dungeon, which actually kicks you out of the game entirely, you’ll have to start that dungeon over from scratch.

For optimal enjoyment of Ultima Forever, it’s best to play on an iPhone 5. Party members may still lag out and disappear, but you’ll have less frame issues. For the freemium price, I’m all on board for this Ultima MMO. When I’m in a solid party, I can’t put this game down. There’s too much to do and tons of reasons to go back into old dungeons and farm for better loot. Hopefully, with subsequent patches the frame issues will slowly disappear.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • hourglass

    EA has been on my shit list since Red Alert.

    • Taclys

      I don't like anything EA anymore. I have no plan on downloading this game just for that.

  • Marvin

    When I get home with wifi I may download this now because of the review. I've been putting it off because of all the freemium screaming.

  • phonecats

    CLICK HERE TO CONNECT TO FACEBOOK!

    HERE'S SOME $99 IAP.

    trash bro. trash.

  • speedyph

    MAN 3 stars u guys r being nice today lol game is utter trash

    • ttocs

      I think 3 stars is fair. It has its issues but its not trash.

    • riChchestMat

      It's as good as Limbo!

  • Lyra

    I just don't understand. This is not only freemium trash, but also the destruction of a beloved game series and it was reviewed at 3 stars. On principle this is 1-2 stars but also it's just not a good game. Wth

    • Balthor5000

      To be fair, Electronic Arts had already destroyed the (previously) amazing series with Ultima 8 and Ultima 9. Now it's just another horrible cash cow.

      • Lyra

        The transformation into an mmo was the last stop on the train of lost hopes.

      • jForsythe

        Ultima has been a mmo for years now

      • Ziekke

        Ultima Online was one of if not the first MMORPGs ever made and it was amazing. It was OSI, not EA.

  • bboc

    you rarely find gold keys in the game, so you have to buy them if you really want the good items. items are found in chests, and the key you use to open them determines rarity of item.

    this is a dick move on EA's part, and the fact that there's a $99 package of gold keys as IAP is telling.

    other than that, the game is mediocre at best.

    it's free to try, but not worth the time.

    • JohnnyB82

      I think they are greedy as heck, but I earned over 300 gold keys for free by completing some of the surveys and what not.

      • doomsday3706

        Same they are greedy. But just do the surveys and get hundreds of dollars worth! ;)

  • Dangle Thang

    Terrible terrible game with an exceptionally bad iAP implementation and as an Ultima game it's further insulting. Shame on Touch Arcade for that score. Even bronze keys get very hard to come by in the needed amounts after you play the first few dungeons. Nice Martin Galway tune on the patcher though.

  • Velinor

    frame rate is horrendous on ipad 3

  • gemineye62

    Since when do you repair weapons and gear with keys? How stupid is that!

    It gets to the point where you are not enjoying the fun fighting but rather looking
    for that key to repair the sword that just broke.

    I respect your opinion about this game but feel you are being too kind.

    What at total waste of the Ultima licence.

  • Rusothil

    The review doesn't make it out to be that bad.. Might have to try it

    • Bruj

      I've been having a good time with it. Most mobs drop 2 to 3 bronze keys. Yes the IAP is there but I have not felt the need to buy anything. It's not the best game ever but it's enjoyable enough as is. I say to anyone to at least try it out.

  • NudeldickerDude

    The Game is not really bad, its just because of this IAP crap. A few years ago i tought a ps3game is expensive. But now we have idiots forcing a pay System were you can spent hundrets of dollar a day.

    • Karzay

      The game is built around the IAP, so you can't logically separate the two. IAP is the game. Everything is built around the need for gold keys and you have to pay for those.

      • Bruj

        Umm there is no "need" for gold keys. Bronze and silver keys suffice. IAP makes a lot of people think you have to buy to get far in the game which in most cases is true. Not this time though.

      • Bruj

        There is a need for bronze and silver keys. If they would change the armor degrade to happen from in combat hits you take instead of just wearing the armor or give a reasonable story reason as to why it degrades so quickly like oh I don't know, Britainian armor, wpns, and such degrade by touching our earthling skin or something, then I could say well at least they give a reason for it

      • Karzay

        You need gold keys to fully experience the game and unlock certain aspects of it. The reason EA calls it "Ultima Forever" is because they either want you to pay forever or grind forever. Either way, the joke is on you. They are laughing all the way to the bank.

      • ivansodi

        How can you say there's no need for gold keys? Perhaps you didn't notice that you need gold keys in order to unlock the second ability button or the card slots.

      • Rob L

        1) he's probably lvl 4

        2) he intends to use moon bolt on his mage all the way to lvl 15 , or just 1 skill it allllll the way through the game

        3) he intends for everyone else to carry him through a dungeon since he won't have anything unlocked, causing people to die and waste time and keys on repairs because of his a) subpar gear and b) lack of unlocked skills

      • Bruj

        My god you are so jaded. Ouch wrong on all points there man. One. I am level 5 (lol). Two. I would run around beating the crap out if mins on my warrior. Third. If Iike the game enough at the point where I would feel more likely to unlock stuff then I probably would. Stop Assuming things about people based on a little but if the guys opinion, as you come out sounding like an elitist ass. No offense.

      • Rob L

        It's just that it is easy to tell the people that haven't played the game long enough to formulate the same conclusion as everyone else.

        I know, my tirade was a bit unwarranted... it's just I had such high hopes for this game and every time I log in and farm for two hours and run a dungeon.. I get all pissed again.

        I ran again last night and opened all blue chests, I got 2 shoulder pieces I can't use and a sword and the sword "magically" disappeared from inventory... I did get one epic card though.

        I've been playing this game for weeks since I made a fake itunes account to download from the canadian store. It's nice to see the influx of players, because it was a ghost town with just the Canadians.

  • spawn12345

    3 stars? Are you kidding me?
    This is one of the worst kind of freemium games!
    This freemium title has everything that is wrong with the freemium model!

    Has TA been paid by EA?

  • Rob L

    3 stars ? And no pay wall? Did we play the same game? I downloaded this game weeks ago when it was in the Canadian store (i'm from the U.S.) I have played it off an on and there is for sure a pay wall. The keys are a horrible system and is combined with a durability system that equates to a double ass fisting. Yes you can use gold keys and get epic armor, but be expected to pay epic prices to maintain your epic armor with the armor degradation/durability system.

    Oh you don't want to pay? Go spend 2 hours farming a low lvl dungeon naked just to get enough bronze keys to convert to silver to repair your gear, only to turn around and walk into a dungeon and BAM armor degrades a lvl, oh there's a chect .. lets look in it BAM armor degrades. Yah armor durability isn't based on getting hit, you just have to wear it and stand there and it will degrade. You can run a dungeon once and it will degrade to a point of that you have to switch out to some subpar gear farm a dungeon naked again.

    The greed oozes from this game, if you can call it that because it's really just a money stream and clearly designed as such.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      What's interesting about this game is that if you stripped the ability to pay for things to skip time sinks, it'd be like every other grind-heavy MMORPG.

      • Bool Zero

        To be fair, I'd agree with you if not for the fact of the degradation system implemented here weren't based around your gear wearing away by simply wearing felt so imbalanced. My resume of MMO's (overwhelmingly PC, but covering all platforms) played is exhaustive and I can honestly say I have never played an MMO with this kind of contentious degradation system implemented. Sure, wear and tear in combat, perhaps a few just from donning (trying to remember some German and Korean ones that I have played that had such), but I have never played any with such a questionable rate... Even with some of the grindier Korean MMO's.

        The amount of grinding is not even the issue with this game, it is the fact that despite how much you grind your efforts are for not. You can grind for several hours to get enough keys to repair all your gear only to have that gear break no sooner than you repaired it because of the atrocious degradation rate and a partial run through a dungeon. Get past level 5 or worse level 10 and see how questionable it gets. That is the issue here.

        On a similar topic, item decay may be the better bet over the current implementation of degradation. Any MMO, especially one who wants an economy to thrive has to have a motivator to that end, but it also has to feel balanced. I think the item degradation needs to be addressed here to only degrade upon use and perhaps supplemented with item decay (meaning that items have a finite number of repairs before being destroyed). This would encourage upgrading and looking for that next item while feeling more perceptively transparent in an more agreeable way to the player as to the nature and vulnerability of their gear.

      • Rob L

        I'm still pissed that my Epic armor and staff I'm using are from the noob dungeon and at lvl 11 I still don't have a replacement for what I got in the noob dungeon. EXCEPT! I have 4 capes in my inventory that are better, but require trinsic rep level 15 of which I have 0 rep with.... LOL serioulsy?

      • Karzay

        Can you sell the armor for keys? As far as I can tell, if you run out of room, you have to destroy it. EA wouldn't want to make it that easy to bypass their IAP.

      • Rob L

        You have to destroy it.... seriously........... I have 4 vanity caps that I'm about to destroy because more inventory is 10 gold keys.

      • Rob L

        My hope for this game, is that they realize it's too greedy and adjust the durability rate. They did it once during it's Canadian release, but to "compensate" for it they reduced drops in the chests. Seriously, the durability system was even WORSE than it is now.

        The way it and I used my gold keys frequently during the Canadian test... was you use a gold key on a chest in the dungeon and cards and armor would pop out and MUCH more of your quest items, sometimes 3 or 4 of the same item per chest. Since the majority of quests are repeatable you leveled up faster and gained reputation faster because of gold keys.

        Now today, I used a few gold keys I had left and what I got was an epic card ( I hardly use cards) no armor and maybe 2 quest items if I was lucky.

        I ran same dungeon and did all blue opens and got 2 pieces of armor, worse than the armor I was wearing now that I got from the noob dungeon with gold keys during beta/Canadian release and I'm now 8 levels higher. A couple cards and a few quest items.

        Did it again with all bronze keys and I got 0 quest items, even crappier armor that I had to destroy to clear inventory. So now if you are doing a quest in a dungeon you have to run it multiple times to get the item you need for the quest if you use bronze keys. I can live with that but the armor thing is annoying.

        Keep in mind you have to run the dungeon multiple times all the while your armor is destroyed by durability that requires you to go farm a noob dungeon naked to get keys so you can run it again and hope you get the item.

        There's so much to be said about this game that's wrong that my brain is abuzz in 1000 directions trying to spit it all out.

      • Karzay

        Actually, if you take away the IAP, you break the game, because the entire game is built on it.

  • Scot D

    I don't understand everyone calling this game trash. Is it what the cool kids are saying? Do any of you have MMORPG experience? I'm not talking about those so-called menu ridden online iOS games that say they're an MMORPG; I'm talking about a traditional MMO. Like Eli stated, grinding is totally acceptable in this genre. It's part of what makes leveling up so rewarding. They just add to it with optional IAP. This game is far from trash. Hell I have an iPhone 4 which isn't really supported, yet I can enjoy playing this and it still isn't trash based on my less than stellar frame rates. To be someone reputable around here or anywhere, you can't go around calling witch every time everyone else does. Freemium doesn't automatically equate to garbage.

    • Rob L

      You must still be lvl 4. Because the durability system ruins the game. You can't spend all your time grinding to fix your gear so you can run a dungeon once so you can grind some more to fix your gear to run a dungeon. It's stupid, ludicrous and greedy.

  • Artfoundry

    In addition to paying for loot and repairs, you have to pay gold keys for adding more skill shortcut buttons and adding more inventory slots. The IAPs are just everywhere in this game. The gameplay is reasonably fun, but like Eli said, it's very much like a typical MMO (though I don't know what time sinks he's taking about - I've seen none of those). It's like they crossed an MMO with a Zynga game.

    • Rob L

      On another forum, a gentleman noted that the sale of 400 keys for 19.99, to unlock all the card slots, ability slots and inventory slots took two of those purchases of the limited time sale on keys. So 40$ so far , for a game that isn't nearly as engrossing as a ps3 or xbox or pc game.

      I loved mass effect 3 and Deadspace 3 and the in game or IAP's for those games were completely fine because they weren't needed to actually play the game and enjoy it. This game is simply ruined by how IAP heavy it is. I use those games as examples because they were published by EA as well and they didn't ruin those games with IAP.

  • Wizard_Mike

    No mention that you have to pay keys just to use your skill buttons. You get one for free, but then have to either pay silver or gold keys to be able to use your other skill buttons. Paying silver "rents" a button for one dungeon run and gold unlocks it forever. The gold costs for these buttons are 25, 75, and 200 gold keys, so you're looking at dropping $20 (if you buy the current special) just to unlock all your skill buttons. And that cost is per character, of course.

    You can eventually earn enough gold keys to unlock these, via level ups and getting lucky when using silver keys to open chests (sometimes you get some gold keys). But be prepared to spend a legendary amount of time farming bronze keys to do so. I spent an hour with the slime king (it's a popular key farming method) and got 300 bronze keys. I converted them all into silver and then went to the woods of woe and spent all of the silver ones on chests and repairs. So yeah, I farmed a dungeon for an hour so that I could run a 10 minute dungeon...

    All complaints aside, I find myself returning to this game quite frequently. In fact, I've put quite a bit of time into it so far. I finally realized that, amidst all my griping and criticizing, I'm actually enjoying the game. So despite its ridiculous IAP setup, I guess I actually like the game. That probably won't stop me from bitching, but I guess if I can enjoy a game that I've convinced myself I hate, then that has to say something.

    • Rob L

      I concur, it's not a horrible game... it's just so damn heavy on the IAP/key scheme that that is overshadowing the good parts of the game. They need to back off the rate of durability by at least HALF and I think the game will be ok. Current state it's gonna fall flat.

  • yaboyrasp

    Not having a key problem at level 7 I just grind the luckless keep....sitting on quite a few silver keys now

  • worldcitizen1919

    Based on about 12 hours play I can't give this game enough raps. It's got everything and there's a lot more to come as far as content, story, tweaks and bug fixes. I just couldn't put this down. It's 3 am now I've played God only knows how long. The art work by itself I makes the game worth $20. This is a fantastic game world. So much atmosphere. Just went into the temple and beautiful choir type music.

    The keys come with grinding and teaming up with others. Love the effects. By just concentrating on keys you guys are missing one of the best releases this year. I love Ultima and played it to death and this is Ultima done right. There are a few bugs and technical issues but in time that will be sorted.

    Heaps, heaps better than Gameloft's MMO. The stories and virtues all combine along with the teamwork and dungeons in a massive world with so much to see and do that it can make 10 hours seem like 10 minutes. The art work in Brittania is phenomenal just the detail and design.

    I think it got a 3 due to technical issues but I would give it 99/100.

    • Jake7905

      Do you work for EA?

    • B30

      © 2013 Extremly Avaricious Inc.

    • Bool Zero

      I've played every Ultima game upon its release, from the very first (Age of Darkness) to the technically and critically disappointing Ultima IX: Ascension, to Ultima Online and all of its expansions before retiring my account after about ten years of play. You are entitled to your opinion, but as a storied Ultima fan since the very beginning, I could not disagree with your statement more. This game is NOT Ultima done right... And I base that opinion not even for the topic discussion at hand!

    • Doc Robby

      This really sounds like a fake comment. What else did the game do for you? Give you multiple orgasms?

  • flashbackflip

    Plague? Zombies? Here? Ugh...

    I thought it can't get shittier, with all those iaps but they managed it! Hooray to EA. Not

  • Jake7905

    It draws you in and then drowns you in IAP, the usual free-to-play carrot and stick routine. Or as EA meant to name this game, 'IAP Forever'.

    • Jake7905

      Correction: the name should read 'IAP Forever: Quest for your Wallet'

      • torosama

        LoL !

  • Rob L

    to be fair, it sucks on the newest ipad as well

    • JohnnyB82

      No it doesnt!

      • Rob L

        Yah it does, the frame rate issues are noted and even talked about on the official forums.

  • Hawaii Jeff

    Honestly, I'm sure we all have better games to devote our attention to, besides this bastardization of Ultima.

  • ivansodi

    How can you say that there’s no discernable pay wall in this game??? How about the need of gold keys to unlock the ability button? Or the greedy rent option?? I think this are pretty relevant aspects of the game that you fail to mention in your review.

  • Jake7905

    E.A.= Electronic Assets

  • JCat_NY

    So grateful we have emulators to play the classic series, because this passionless joke is not worthy of the name.

    • Seniku Moonjewel

      Totally agree

  • benadvanced

    Game is garbage

  • Seniku Moonjewel

    EA at their most evil, despicable worst.. Thanks for ruining an EPIC game like 'Ultima' you greedy leeches!

  • Seniku Moonjewel

    3 Stars.. TA you should be ASHAMED of yourselves. Give that bribe back to EA and be honest!

    • Bruj

      Accusations of bribery? I thought TA were about more than that.

  • Graison Swaan

    How about a kickstarter to get Garriott the Ultima brand back?

  • MrAlbum

    Duke Nukem FOREVER: Death of a classic franchise.

    Ultima FOREVER: ?????

    I'm just worried about the connotations of the title. The game itself is alright, has some interesting personality and ways to portray your character (OUTSIDE of gear, of course), and the background assets have this hand-painted feel to them that I quite enjoyed.

    What killed it for me wasn't the gear degradation; it was the technical issues. Lag happens, and the game is so graphics-intensive that there's a 50/50 chance for lag to crash your game. Sure, the game is nice enough to save your progress and your position in the event of a crash, and it even has a somewhat humorous message when one's connection falters, but those are band-aids on a serious problem.

    Is it great? Hell no. Is it average? Sadly, for iOS gaming, it is. There's so much crap out there that is worse that the fact that this game is mildly entertaining is almost a victory in and of itself. Sure, it means that it doesn't rise above said mediocrity, but at least it's at the top of the manure pile.

  • azsxdc

    There's really no reason why a game this ugly should perform that poorly on perfectly adequate hardware.

  • Flare_TM

    Guessing the reviewer didn't have bags of fun with this one

  • JohnnyB82

    Just so everyone is aware, Ulitma Forever is a 4 player game max. It is therefore not an MMO.

  • diaskeaus

    I'm not going to comment on the pay wall. There isn't one, unless you want the really cool items all the time. Then there is one. But if you just want to play the game and have a small chance and getting nice items, then there isn't a pay wall. 'Nuff said about that.

    This game isn't Ultima. It's not Diablo either. It's not Final Fantasy. It's not Dragon Warrior, or reminiscent of pretty much any of those classic games. It's basically a mashup of World of Warcraft and one of 'those iOS action RPGs' where you control your character by tapping where you want to go and swing your weapon a la Order and Chaos.

    The story is dumb, just like you would expect from any of those iOS action RPGs. The questing is boring, just like you would expect from a game that uses WoW's questing system, without WoW lore or story.

    But the fighting isn't boring at all. It's quite fun, but not something you can really dig into deeply. That being said, there is more here to do than you could ever hope for. The map is bursting with content, so go ahead and enjoy yourself. This is a very big game, with a lot to do. There's a nice little RP system in the forum of valour points, but this really doesn't have a discernible affect on the actual game, just the player experience.

    And while the fighting is pretty fun, most fights follow the basic MMO model: hit for a lot of damage, and avoid bad areas to stand in. So when you can, you use your hardest hitting abilities, and then run away. And repeat. If this is your cup of tea, then Ultima Forever is a great time waster. If you are looking for a deeper experience, this probably will let you down.

  • Jonathan

    This game is a huge lag monster on the ipad mini. I don't know if they are planning on fixing it or not. It crashes out from the lag several times in 30 minutes.

Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar Reviewed by Bags Hooper on . Rating: 3