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Ultima Forever set 21 years after Ultima IV

Bioware has shared further details of Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar, its recently announced free-to-play reboot of the venerable RPG series.

Lead designer Kate Flack told Joystiq the game's still in alpha so some details are yet to change, which may explain why EA has been so vague about it until now.

Contrary to earlier reports, it's not a direct remake of Ultima IV, but takes place 21 years after the events of the classic RPG.

"Ultima 5, 6, 7, 8 haven't happened yet. Lord British is among the stars; he's no longer there. Lady British has now taken the throne and we've found that one Avatar isn't going to do it this time round, we need multiple Avatars and multiple people coming to try and repair the land," Flack explained.

This is where the multiplayer and social side of things comes in, should you choose to indulge, although BioWare still isn't talking about how the game will work cross-platform once it spreads past iPad to PC. BioWare has extended the game's virtues system to multiplayer interactions, so that how you treat your party members could affect your journey towards becoming Avatar.

Players will be able to use the iPad's on-screen keyboard to chat with friends, but apart from that, all controls are by direct touch on new menu interfaces; Flack said she hates virtual control pad arrangements.

Other modern additions include a quest log and a map, but Flack is determined to keep the spirit of the original.

"We specifically dug out all of the original manuals and all of the old design documents, and all of the interviews we could get our hands on, talking about Ultima IV and why it was created the way it was," she said.

"We've been very dedicated to asking what was Origin trying to achieve, and what's the parallel in our time?"

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