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Nyren's Corner: The Fable Trilogy Mega Review & What I Hope Fable IV Carries Over

Illustration for article titled Nyrens Corner: The Fable Trilogy Mega Review  What I Hope Fable IV Carries Over
Image: kaykay0802 (Other)

After the announcement of Playground Games reboot of the Fable series, I decided to replay the entire Fable trilogy. So for the past month I have done just that and loved every minute of it. The goal was not just to relive fond childhood memories of one of my favorite series, but to also refresh myself on what I thought was so great about them and in turn what the Fable reboot should take notes from and carry over as best they can.

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Originally I intended to write three completely separate review articles and post them as they were finished and then follow them up with a dedicated Fable reboot article. However, I decided that this was akin to spamming, and so I decided to just roll all four into one big mega article, so grab a drink, put on some Fable & Chill music, and prepare for a read.

Section One - Fable Anniversary - A Tale for the Ages

Illustration for article titled Nyrens Corner: The Fable Trilogy Mega Review  What I Hope Fable IV Carries Over
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The original Fable released on the original Xbox on September 4th, 2004. At the time, it was critically acclaimed, becoming one of Xbox’s greatest hits, but it also had its fair share of criticism thanks to promises made during development that ultimately went unfulfilled upon the games release. Despite this however, it earned its place as Microsoft’s second biggest IP after Halo. It was a fairly ambitious title by British developer Lionhead Studios, one that was immediately recognizable thanks to its British flair and story that gave you complete freedom to define how good or evil your character was in the story and have the world around you react and change based on the decisions you make.

For this review, I played the Anniversary edition of Fable: The Lost Chapters, a remaster of the expanded version of Fable released for the Xbox 360 and PC in 2014. Graphically, the game was vastly improved over the original thanks to it being built on Unreal Engine 3. However, this leads to some... awkward looking characters with huge heads, ugly faces, large hands and feet, all rendered photorealistically. It was unique and charming(to a degree) on the original Xbox, but somewhat creepy here, at least on children. What a difference 10 years can make.

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Illustration for article titled Nyrens Corner: The Fable Trilogy Mega Review  What I Hope Fable IV Carries Over
Screenshot: GameInformer

One thing I’ve always loved about the gameplay is how the leveling system works. You don’t have standard levels like Level 1, 2, 3, etc. Instead you just have experience points and abilities to spend them on. Using a certain type of weapon, be it melee, ranged, or magic, earns you unique experience points to be spent on that specific type of skill. Using all three on a single enemy will net you some for each discipline. These experience orbs are color-coded with blue representing Will(Magic), red for Strength(Melee), and yellow for Skill(Ranged). In addition to these, upon the death of an enemy, they’ll drop green experience orbs which are general experience points that can be combined with the other three types to afford abilities. And acquiring/upgrading these abilities doesn’t just have stat differences. If you spend points on Physique, a Strength ability, your character becomes more and more buff. There’s even a Sword in the Stone quest which requires certain levels of Strength abilities to successfully pull the sword from the stone, otherwise you will fail every time you try and if you don’t get it on the first try, the requirements actually go up in a bit of odd quest design. If you spend points on Speed, a Skill ability, you grow not only faster, but also taller. And spending points on Will abilities in general will cause magical Will lines to appear all over your characters body. I loved seeing my character physicall grow and change based on how I played. Course there’s no limit on what you can do, so you can absolutely become an overpowered tall magical behemoth by the end of the game.

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And that brings me to the next thing that I absolutely loved about this game: Your moral alignment changes your appearance. Fable is fairly binary in that you are either a Good Hero or an Evil Hero/Villain. You will have multiple opportunities to make choices that affect your morality and how other perceive you. The more you move the bar to one side, the more it’s reflected in your physical appearance. If you lean more towards Good, you get a glowing Halo above your head and later in the game you’ll get white hair and a beard(Which you can remove if you don’t like beards.) giving you an almost sage-esque appearance. Alternatively, perform enough evil deeds such as consuming live crunchy chicks, you monster, your skin becomes more ashen, eyes become black and red, and you grow horns.

Illustration for article titled Nyrens Corner: The Fable Trilogy Mega Review  What I Hope Fable IV Carries Over
Image: Magnanimous Neal’s Journal (Fair Use)
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As stated by Guild Master Weaver at the beginning of the game, you are free to shape your own destiny, make your own choices, and you can do just that. Early on you receive the option of two quests. One is to protect Orchard Farm from bandits. The other is to join the bandits and raid Orchard Farm. One is Good, one is Evil. This is one of the earliest examples of choices you can make. It’s a simple one, and they continually get more weighty as the game continues. Characters live or die by your choices and these can have ripple effects across the story. You are, of course, never railroaded by these decisions, you can start doing evil or good deeds at any point and try to change your moral standing. There’s even two weapons in the game clearly aligned with Good and Evil, but you are not required to obtain either of them and one of them cannot be obtained if you are not sufficiently Good enough while the other is a story decision.

Now, this all makes for a fairly serious game with a serious story and serious characters... okay well not entirely. It’s fairly serious on all fronts, but Lionhead threw in a wealth of comedy, giving it a sort of Monty Python vibe at times. The humor is both standard comedy and vulgar. You can belch and fart in peoples faces, scream at them, point your finger at them, do a jig for them, pose, show off your hard won trophies, flirt, have sex with every woman in Bowerstone, get married to a man or a woman, own a brothel, all the while saving the world from certain doom or condemning it to a hellish existence. Meanwhile there’s a citizen asking you about psychedelic mushrooms and talking doors full of smartass comments and riddles. The game has this oddball sense of humor that American developers, and even Japanese developers, probably wouldn’t touch, but the British absolutely will(and to an extent other European developers as they seem to have no filter.).

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All of these elements come together for a very unique and engaging experience, and it’s clear to see why the original Fable, especially The Lost Chapters and Anniversary, are considered the best in the series. It was clearly the developers dream game and they put everything they had into realizing it, even if they couldn’t do everything they set out and promised to do. The base combat is of course a little disappointing. Very stiff, very unfair at times, and I accidentally shot my fair share of civilians in the back on multiple occasions because they walked in front of my arrow that was hurtling towards a bandit, scoring me accidental Evil points and angering Guards that just so happened to conveniently be there. And just to throw this out there, Trolls are the worst enemy in the game bar none and the damn developers knew it because they’d throw two or three of them at you at once and their attacks will leave you quite literally very little time to attack them back. So frustrating, especially since Bows are the only real effective weapon against them aside from Magic, and while you can just spam magic like its going out of style so long as you have MP, Bows require you to time your shots for maximum power and stability. Firing too soon leaves you with little power and a not so straight shot. Holding it until the meter is full maximizes power, but is slower. Gotta get in the middle somewhere. Combining it with the Magic Arrows spell can increase the damage per shot by about five times or so.

All in all, I will continually come back to this game because despite dated design choices and combat woes, it’s an amazing experience you likely won’t find in many other places. The Anniversary edition has all the same content as the original Lost Chapters release, just graphically updated and with some bug fixes to my knowledge, and as a result is the definitive way(and easiest to acquire) to experience the original Fable and the story of the Hero of Oakvale.

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Section Two - Fable II - The Enlightened One

Illustration for article titled Nyrens Corner: The Fable Trilogy Mega Review  What I Hope Fable IV Carries Over
Screenshot: Giant Bomb (Fair Use)
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Landing on October 21st, 2008, Fable II was the long awaited sequel to Fable: The Lost Chapters, this time developed exclusively for the Xbox 360(And to this day, circa 2020, is the only numbered title to never receive a PC release.). Like it’s predecessor, Fable II is all about defining the kind of Hero or Villain you want to be, and unlike the first game, you can choose to be either a man or a woman, but the game gives no shits if you want to cross-dress so again, you are completely free. But also like its predecessor, it came with a lot of unfulfilled promises yet again, because head of Lionhead Peter Molyneaux absolutely loved making promises of grand ideas that ultimately never pan out, which unfortunately became more of a series reputation than a Molyneaux reputation. His notorious “An acorn will fall from a tree and over time grow into a new tree” promise from Fable 1 comes to mind.

Fable II expands on the original game in varying ways. From a multitude of new abilities for every discipline and many new types of weapons, to a second type of morality(Pure and Chaos). While Melee weapons and Will Magic return, the ranged category has seen a bit of a change. Gone are bows and arrows, replaced by crossbows, rifles, and pistols. The nuance in the firing mechanic has been abandoned in favor of just pointing and shooting. Because of their reliability, I found myself relying heavily on my rifle throughout the game, often neglecting my sword and magic. Trolls are also far less annoying now. Instead of just firing away at them, they have exposed weak points you need to hit and they now have a visible health meter. These weak points will retract in-between “kills” leaving you to dodge attacks and fight off smaller enemies that may appear.

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Illustration for article titled Nyrens Corner: The Fable Trilogy Mega Review  What I Hope Fable IV Carries Over
Image: Gamer Theories

Returning from the previous game are colored experience orbs which are still acquired by using their respective disciplines in combat, except Strength is now blue instead of red, and Will is now red instead of blue. Not sure why they decided to change that, especially since the colors were much more fitting before, but whatever. Putting points into Physique still makes you really buff, putting points into Speed still makes you tall, and acquiring Will abilities still makes you glow like an ancient rune. However, you can also now get fat by eating too much food. Clothing no longer protects you, it only has cosmetic stats that can affect your relationship with NPC’s. In fact, you can’t actually die. Unlike the first game where you die and reload a save, Fable II just knocks you out for a moment, you lose experience, and then get right back up to continue fighting with the potential to receive a scar from it(Fable 1 also had scars, however they were obtained simply from getting hit. It worked on background odds and certain armors and spells could lessen these odds.). I personally loved this mechanic when I was a kid because I got hit a lot, but now I hate it because it just feels so cheap. And while we’re on the topic of physical appearance changes based on shit that does or does not happen to you, your base morality of Good & Evil(Not Pure or Chaos) does still affect your physical appearance over time. Good character still get a lovely halo above their head, but they no longer look like they’ve aged seventy years. Evil characters however continue to look as demonic as ever.

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On that note, your choices continue to shape the world and the people in it, and on a much grander scale than before. Entire towns can prosper or suffer by your decisions. At the very beginning of the game, you and your sister Rose are tasked with collecting five gold pieces in order to purchase a magical music box, and so you must perform five deeds. Each deed has a Good and Evil choice, the ramifications of which will not be apparent until after a timeskip which happens soon after and you return to Bowerstone Old Quarter. Either it will have become an even worse slum, now lawless, or it will transform into a peaceful neighborhood free of crime and poverty. Shortly thereafter you travel to Oakfield, home of the Golden Oak and the Temple of Light. After completing the main quest that takes place there, you are given dual quests. One is to serve the Temple of Light and drive the Shadow Worshippers out of the holy Wellspring of Light which they are attempting to corrupt. Or you can side with the Temple of Shadows and help to corrupt the Wellspring. After a timeskip, you will see the results of your choice, be it a prosperous Oakfield and expanded Temple of Light, or a village fallen into ruin and a Golden Oak that has withered and died, with the Temple of Light abandoned.

Compared to Fable: The Lost Chapters, the story of Fable II is still about stopping a catastrophe of world ending proportions, but it also never feels quite as big as it wants you to believe. The antagonist, Lord Lucien, is not on the same level as previous antagonist Jack of Blades. He never physically fights you, he doesn’t taunt you or come after you. He sits in his tower, preoccupied with constructing the damn thing for what the game more or less states is 20 years, and just sending minions after you and the other Heroes. The world never truly feels like its in danger at all even though the story is constantly reminding you that it is.

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Oh, yeah, also should mention that Fable II takes place 500 years after Fable: The Lost Chapters in an Albion that has entered the Age of Enlightenment. The Heroes Guild was destroyed centuries ago and most of the heroic bloodlines slain. By the present day, only four remain. The bloodline of Strength, the bloodline of Will, the bloodline of Skill, and yours, the Archon’s Bloodline. In the first game it was made apparent that all Heroes could wield all three disciplines, but that your character specifically, the Hero of Oakvale, a descendant of Archon and the ancestor of Fable II’s protagonist, had a mastery of all three and power to surpass all Heroes, while everyone else was more like jacks of all trades with a specialization in one discipline. Fable II retcons this to make Archon’s Bloodline the only one that can use all three disciplines, while the other bloodlines are stuck with just one. I never really liked this change. Sure, it made you feel even more special, but I already felt special before and it was cooler that so many other people could use these same powers albeit to lesser extents. It also ties the ability to be a Hero to ones bloodline, meaning it’s entirely genetic and not a matter of aptitude. There was some indication of this in The Lost Chapters, but it wasn’t nearly as pronounced, especially with Heroes being so numerous.

One big change from the previous game, in terms of what you can do, is you can get a job. I know right, that’s a big deal! But seriously, it makes earning money so much easier. After earning enough money from a given job, you get a promotion. A promotion means higher pay, meaning you save up quicker. These jobs act as minigames. You have to time the press of a button with a little dot moving back and forth across a bar, and press the button when the dot enters an inner green bar. The more successful attempts you make, the higher your coin multiplier gets. The higher the multiplier, the higher your pay will get, but the dot will also move faster and you have to be smarter. Miss even once, and it resets. But then you can take the money you’ve earned and purchase property. And I don’t mean one house here and one house there. No, I mean you can buy every building you see including the Blacksmith and Bar. You can then adjust prices and rent to varying moral effects. You can even buy unique properties and once you buy every property in the game including Fairfax Castle, you can gain the title of King of Albion.

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Another gameplay element that I do feel I should mention is your dog companion. This good boy can find buried treasure for you to dig up, point out treasures and hidden objects, attack enemies, and even point you in the direction of quest objectives. You can purchase skill books to upgrade his skills, making him even better. He also plays along with your expressions when you perform one. Speaking of expressions, the main form of communication between you and the denizens of Albion, they work much the same way as before. You acquire them from books which are fairly easy to find at the Bowerstone Bookstore. Your character must have been sheltered though because the ability to ask people to have sex with you is locked until you read the requisite expression book. I should also mention that if your looking for titillating sex scenes, look elsewhere. In both Fable 1 & 2 sex scenes fade to black and you just hear moans and dialogue. They are not explicit, they’re meant to be goofy, and yes you can contract STD’s if you don’t use a condom. You can also conceive a child who will grow up slightly. You can marry any NPC in the game, much like the previous game, but they do for the most part all look alike and it hardly matters. Fable 1 had more variety than this.

If there is one thing I love about the timeskip, it’s that the world has changed so much and you get to learn how an old area from the previous game became this one. Where the Heroes Guild once stood is now Bower Lake, Oakvale was swallowed up by Witchwood after a tragedy and turned into Wraithmarsh, Bowerstone prospered and grew larger, and Twinblade’s Camp became the site of the new town of Bloodstone. The game features plenty of books which tell you the history of what happened in between the games while idle banter reveals even more. The world is so rich and detailed with lore and it’s just so fantastic.

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Illustration for article titled Nyrens Corner: The Fable Trilogy Mega Review  What I Hope Fable IV Carries Over
Screenshot: Reddit

The last thing I will comment on is the graphics. I played the game on my Xbox One X and it is One X Enhanced. Despite being a 2008 game it still surprisingly holds up extremely well. There are some muddy textures here and there, character faces can look odd and lifeless, and the UI is not upscaled so it looks pixelated including text, but artistically it is still gorgeous and I loved being able to appreciate it more on my 4K television. You will not get an ugly game if you decide to play this one as a backwards compatible title, 4K or not.

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Fable II is a good game, and it is still very much a Fable game. All the hallmarks established in the first game are still present. However, the change to an Enlightenment-esque era has made it feel a lot less... fresh. It still has some uniqueness to it, but it also feels that somewhere I’ve seen this before. This also feels at odds with the games swords and sorcery roots. Director Peter Molyneaux has gone on record stating that he regretted moving the game so far forward in time, wishing he’d stayed in the Medieval period. It would seem Playground Games, the new home of the franchise, agrees with that assessment. Despite that, however, the story was still good, the characters still as serious, but also funny as always, and the journey worth taking. It’s just a shame that the final boss wasn’t really a boss at all and in the end you’re left with three choices to make. Sounds familiar.

Section Three - Fable III - The Weight of a Crown

Illustration for article titled Nyrens Corner: The Fable Trilogy Mega Review  What I Hope Fable IV Carries Over
Image: WildGamerz
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Fable III was released on October 26th, 2010 a little over two years after Fable II. In the world of Albion, 50 years have now passed and we’ve gone from the Enlightenment to the Industrial Revolution. You take the role of the Crown Prince or Princess, youngest son of Fable II’s protagonist referred to in the game as the Hero King, canonically making the Hero of Bowerstone male. Your older brother, Logan, rules Albion after your fathers death and has become a tyrant. Thus you begin a revolution after being forced by Logan to either execute the leaders of a protest or spare them and have your friend/lover Elise/Elliot executed instead.

Fable III is considered the worst of the original trilogy, and for a time I wholeheartedly believed that. However, time apparently eroded my memory of the game, and after having replayed it, I don’t think it was all that bad actually. It did quite a few things wrong, but it also did a lot right and tried a lot of interesting new things. The story also had heart and felt just as big and weighty as the original game. But for the third entry in one of Microsoft’s four big franchises(By this time Gears of War and Forza Motorsport had risen to prominence alongside Halo and Fable.), it just didn’t hit where it needed too. Maybe it was a rushed development, maybe it was more unfulfilled promises, or even expectations from fans that far exceeded what even the developers had considered. The game deserves a second chance, and I’m here to evaluate it.

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Illustration for article titled Nyrens Corner: The Fable Trilogy Mega Review  What I Hope Fable IV Carries Over
Screenshot: Game Insider

So let me get this out of the way first thing: The whole idea that the pause menu is a physical location you can explore and do things in is REALLY cool, BUT it’s also a pain in the ass and takes longer to navigate when you need to quickly switch your gear. And then there’s how you level up. They completely did away with Strength and Skill, instead replacing them with standard melee, ranged, and magic levels. In order to level these attributes up, you must unlock chests on the Road to Rule using Guild Seals. You earn basic experience points by killing enemies, they fill a meter, and when the meter is full you get a Seal. When you complete quests, you get Seals. And then you spend these Seals on these chests, but not just to upgrade your equipment, oh no, you also use them to unlock expressions. That’s right, no more books, they’re all stuck in these chests now. Gotta spend those precious Seals for expressions. Oh, and Clothing Dyes also come in these chests, so gotta spend Seals on those too. Whoops, spent too much, now I can’t upgrade my weapons. Yeah, it’s a shitty system. On the cool side though, each time you buy a level for your weapons, their appearance changes, looking cooler and more heroic with each level. I am a bit disappointed in Magic though because your character, the Hero of Brightwall, apparently can’t use it on his own like his father and ancestor could. Instead he has to use special Will Gauntlets to channel the energy necessary to cast spells. Each gauntlet has a different spell, and for the first time you can mix and match them, wearing on on each hand. Oh, and that’s an ability you have to spend Guild Seals on as well. And you get the Gauntlets by opening chests with Seals. Basically everything you actually want is tucked away in these goddamn chests and the experience system is no longer interesting, it’s just frustrating and far simpler than it used to be. As a consequence, your characters appearance also no longer changes as you upgrade your abilities since they’re no longer tied to Strength, Skill, or Will. They’re tied entirely to your weapons themselves. You don’t even get appearance changes from your morality meter. Instead that is entirely dictated, apparently, by how you fair as King or Queen towards the end of the game. Which basically just amounts to angelic or demonic wings sprouting from your back and some glowing lines on your body.

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That was long-winded, but I really needed to vent on those frustrations. On the plus side however are the return of cinematics. They were used in the original game, albeit not nearly as smooth, and dropped in Fable II for more interactive scenes. Another notable difference, and an improvement in my opinion, is that your character now speaks, they have dialogue, and they can make dialogue choices at certain points in the story. It’s not hard to tell which choice is good and which is evil, but to help you figure it out, good choices are highlighted by sparkles and the evil choices are surrounded by a ring of fire. The dialogue helps to sell emotions, helps to sell the story in conjunction with the cutscenes.

Speaking of choices, you have far less impact on the world in Fable III. In fact you can’t really decide who lives and dies much either. They really stripped a lot of this out, presumably to make the few moments you can feel more impactful. The only time you have a major impact is during your reign as King(Yeah, yeah, spoilers. A game about staging a revolution to take the crown has you become King. Holy crap.) and you can make decisions in court that decides the fate of entire regions. They saved it all for the end, and it’s all over in an instant because you clicked a button. Honestly to say being King was kind of a letdown is an understatement. Like, yeah, you get a nice big castle for a home, and you do get to make some kingly decisions that affect the realm... and then never again. You’re still King, but the game kind of runs out of things for you to do by the endgame.

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Speaking of things you can do though, the developers did come up with the neat “Touch” mechanic. In previous games, and most games for that matter, if you want a character to follow you, you either have to ask them through dialogue or perform an emote. In Fable III you just run up, hit the Left Trigger, and boom, they’re following you, but not just following you, they’re holding your hand. How lewd. Seriously though, it is neat to see the characters holding hands even if they aren’t always 100% locked together or the person you’re towing along falls behind somehow anyway. Interactions are also no longer mapped to the D-Pad. You hit “A” to interact with a character, then it display three or four emotes you can perform as button presses and you just select which one you want. It makes it a bit more cinematic too and you can give coins to beggars, be a nice person.

And they actually did fix one of my gripes from Fable II which was the variety of NPCs. In Fable II they all looked relatively the same with minor differences, but Fable III cranks this up considerably. A lot more clothing variations, a lot more ethnicity’s, more hair styles and voices, it’s a breath of fresh air. However their personalities are still pretty samey so aside from physical appearances it still doesn’t matter who you marry or befriend. Speaking of physical appearances, I have a bone to pick with this game. My character is white. My wife was white. Our baby was white. But the moment he grew into a child? Boom, little African boy, and I mean dark, not like a mix situation. The game literally just randomly selects a child model from the games files and calls it a day. It does not check at all the ethnicity of the parents or anything like that. If I didn’t know any better I’d accuse my wife of cheating.

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Joking aside, the one thing I did like with this is that Lionhead created a unique character, Elise/Elliot, who you meet in the games intro, and as I mentioned before, have to decide if they’ll be executed instead of the protesters. Executing them is actually the Good choice, while executing the protesters is the evil choice. And it is only one of two evil choices I made in the game because she’s too unique for me to kill and I like her. And you do get to marry her later in the game if you so choose, after doing a quest of course where you find out she fell in love with someone else and got engaged, but she’s willing to break it off for you if you ask her too. And that is the second evil choice I made, because I wanted the one NPC in the game that looks different from everyone else, actually has a personality, and unique dialogue. Also, on that note, they expanded the sex scenes a bit in this game. They now have bed creaking sounds.

All in all, Fable III isn’t a terrible game, it’s actually really good. But it simplified way too much and it got rid of things that defined Fable as a series, and that is where it stumbled so hard despite being great at everything else. Even combat admittedly feels so much better than the previous two games. It’s so much more fluid. Switching from gun to blade and magic has actual transition animations that make your character look like a badass Hero. And that’s why it’s such a shame that it failed so hard that all we got after this were spin-offs and not true Fable games. Lionhead considered a true Fable IV, but ultimately decided to make Fable Legends, a 4v1 dungeon master game that ultimately was never released and the studio shuttered after fans just did not take to it.

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But, that finally leads us too...

Section Four - Fable Reboot - Your Story Has Yet to be Written

Illustration for article titled Nyrens Corner: The Fable Trilogy Mega Review  What I Hope Fable IV Carries Over
Image: Eurogamer
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This reboot, developed by the Forza Horizon developers, or more specifically a second studio they founded and staffed by entirely new developers, has been rumored since 2018. It is probably Microsoft’s worst kept secret. In fact, when asked about it at E3 2019, Phil Spencer didn’t even deny its existence, he just said to wait for E3 2020 because they couldn’t play all their cards at once. However, beyond this teaser which shows us that it will have British actors, that it will be a presumably medieval fantasy setting, and it will retain the series signature humor, we know very little about it other than the fact that it’s slated to be released only on Xbox Series X and PC. So with that in mind, after playing through its predecessors, fully aware that it is by no means beholden to the same formula or style, here is what I hope to see from it:

#1) Heroes, Villains, and the Three Disciplines

Core to the identity of the Fable series are Heroes and Villains. More than just a title, these are people with special blood in their veins, and they wield the powers of Strength, Skill, and Will. Trained by the Guild of Heroes to harness their special abilities, these men and women use their abilities to either help or terrorize the people of Albion. It is this duality and neutrality that forms the backbone of Fable’s conceit as a game where your choices matter, where your decisions shape the world and the people who live in it. Without Heroes, Villains, and their abilities, it isn’t Albion, it isn’t Fable. This a must to establish this world as that of Fable, reboot or not. Thankfully the sword in the reveal trailer has the Heroes Guild emblem which should serve as enough confirmation, but I want to hear it straight up.

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#2) No Massively Multiplayer

Anyone who knows me well enough knows that I don’t hate multiplayer games, but I do hate when franchises previously known for singleplayer games suddenly feel the need to add multiplayer components, and often its a go big or go home type of situation where the multiplayer starts to overshadow the singleplayer or even mix with it and ruin the solo experience. Fable II & III both feature cooperative multiplayer with one other player. This second player is a guest in your world and cannot adversely affect it. It is an inconsequential feature that does not diminish the impact of the singleplayer gameplay. They also cannot join your game whenever they want, you have to invite them. Maintains your privacy.

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My fear is that Playground Games will want to expand on this feature... significantly. Not necessarily to actual MMO size, but something more akin to Destiny where there are multiple players running around the map, engaging enemies, doing quests, grabbing loot, etc. It just completely kills the experience for me because I’m trying to get through the story and play solo, but there’s always another player around somewhere. And because they’re supposed to make their own decisions, or are farther behind in the story, everything is instanced so you see one thing and they see another, but I just hate that. It’s not true singleplayer, everything is catering to the multiplayer and I don’t want that. Singleplayer and Multiplayer should be kept separate. I don’t mind if they bring back co-op, but it has to remain optional and out of my way. I haven’t waited all this time for a true Fable experience only to have it ruined by the limitations of a multiplayer world and some kid screaming about Fortnite.

#3) World Changing Choices

Fable prided itself on allowing you to make decisions that shaped the world and its characters. Fable III did retain this, but it hoarded it all for the end of the game, and it honestly didn’t have any significant impact on the story. At most the after effects were that people either loved or hated you. This needs to come back in a big way with a world that is ever evolving based on your actions. And filled with characters who you care if it affects them or their opinion of you.

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#4) Give Characters Personality & Uniqueness

Here’s the thing about the previous Fable games. They are not so filled to the brim with characters that it would have been impossible for Lionhead to make them all unique and give them personalities. This reboot is a chance for Playground to really flesh this world out with characters who mean something. Unique clothing, names, personalities, you name it, they need it. Granted, there will also probably be a lot more filler characters who are just their to make the world larger and feel more alive, but there’s plenty of room for unique characters all the same, especially as marriage options because I do want that to actually feel like a real choice and not just something that I can do.

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#5) Fully Embrace Sex

This is probably where I’m gonna lose some of ya, but I feel like they need to go all the way with this now. We’re long past the time of sex in video games being this taboo, gotta hide it behind the curtains ordeal. Other RPG’s have fully embraced this, either as rewards for building relationships, or actual genuinely intimate moments between characters, as a human thing that humans do, it’s time to drop the fade to black and wacky bed sounds for something more meaningful, but keep it as an unscripted thing that can happen. Not as a reward late in the game, or as part of the story(Unless there’s options.), but something you just do from time to time and get a scene for it. It will also make the game stand apart from everything else in Microsoft’s library. They aren’t exactly family friendly like Nintendo, but Gears of War is about as mature as Microsoft tends to get. Fable was the closest they ever came to straight up making adult games, and it should continue to do just that.

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#6) Cutscenes & Voiced Dialogue, but More Customization

Cutscenes and voiced dialogue were two of the best ideas Fable III had, but it still had preset characters. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and in some instances I fully welcome and defend it, Fable doesn’t quite feel like it needs to do that. And in the 20's, if you don’t need to have that pre-defined character, you should give the players more customization over their physical appearance and voice. This isn’t a must have, as I’ve been perfectly fine with how Fable has done things before, but new developers, new way of doing things. And I’m sure others would appreciate being able to fully step into their characters shoes rather than only partially.

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#7) Open World

Open worlds are par for the course in the modern era. In fact, they’re a dime a dozen and I’m actually getting really tired of every game being one, just like how I’m tired of everything being live service, and I’m tired of everything having to have multiplayer of some kind. However, Fable hasn’t been seen in almost a decade, and when we last saw it, it was still using condensed areas with pre-defined paths through them. This was fine for back then, even though games had started to already move to completely open worlds, but now is the time, just like with sex, for Fable to grow up and fully embrace a large open world that you are free to explore in any direction you want with no loading screens. Though if some areas are initially barred off, I can still live with that for the sake of storytelling and progression.

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And that’s all I got folks. Hope you enjoyed the long read that has taken me approximately four and a half hours to write. I’m glad to be back writing on TAY and hope to have more soon.

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