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EA Phenomic Revives  Ultima  With Browser-Based Strategy Game

EA Phenomic Revives Ultima With Browser-Based Strategy Game

January 26, 2010 | By Eric Caoili

January 26, 2010 | By Eric Caoili

Germany-based BattleForge developer EA Phenomic's latest project is Lord of Ultima, a browser-based title reviving the almost 30-year-old Ultima RPG franchise as an online strategy game.

In Lord of Ultima, players build and manage a unique city in a fantasy setting, interacting with other online gamers doing the same. The mechanics and presentation are similar to Blue Byte Software's The Settlers real-time strategy series, though it takes place in the Ultima universe. The game is currently available to play for free -- albeit as a limited closed beta.

Originally debuted in 1981 and created by Richard "Lord British" Garriott, the Ultima series has seen dozens of releases on PC, home consoles, and handhelds, and a popular online spin-off in the form of Ultima Online. UO was one of the first successful MMORPGs before the genre took off with World of Warcraft, boasting a 250,000+ subscriber base at its peak.

Electronic Arts planned at least two follow-ups to Ultima Online, Ultima Worlds Online: Origin and Ultima X: Odyssey, but terminated both projects as the publisher laid off and eventually shuttered developer Origin Systems. The company, however, released Ultima Online: Kingdom Reborn, a free client with updated graphics and a new interface in 2007.

Lord of Ultima's developer EA Phenomic, which was purchased by Electronic Arts in 2006 when it was named Phenomic Game Development, most recently released BattleForge last year, a free-to-play and card-based strategy PC game with microtransactions. Before the acquisition, the studio was best known for its SpellForce strategy and RPG series.

Neither Electronic Arts or EA Phenomic have announced details on Lord of Ultima's full release or planned pricing models.

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