We got to play around a bit with Ultima Forever: Quest of the Avatar at GDC, and here's what it does -- it brings the classic hardcore MMO model to a more casual audience. Players party up in groups of four to delve into dungeon romps and dragon battles that last five minutes and up, depending on how much time you and your buddies have.
You've got all of the standard trappings of a classic RPG in Ultima Forever - slaying monsters, gaining experience points, leveling up, unlocking abilities, and amassing loot - but there's a ton of storyline to chew through here too. You've got to remember that Ultima has been around for ages, and so there's a lot of lore to pull on. There's a tie-in with Facebook so you can keep in touch with any players there and coordinate your next raid.
By far my favorite mechanic of the whole game is how they handle virtues. Making certain decisions in dialog and completing quests will have players gain different kinds of virtue points. Every city values a handful of virtues, so the more highly-ranked you are in one of its associated virtues, the more quests are available to you in that city. You even earn virtue points for helping out your underlevelled friends on quests.
I've poured more than a few hours into Ultima Online, so it's great to see the world coming to iOS in a social, bite-sized way. The only downer is that there's no crafting or housing systems as of yet, which were major staples in the older games. Fingers are crossed that they'll bring those options in through a future update.