During its Xbox Game Showcase, Microsoft revealed the Fable series’ next installment, to the excitement of millions of fans worldwide. Though rumours had spread of a new Fable being developed by Playground Games, nothing had been officially announced until the showcase’s debut trailer. The cinematic followed a fairy flying through an enchanted forest and subsequently being eaten by a frog, in typical Fable humour. The camera then pans up to reveal a fantasy Kingdom and the word “Fable” appears on screen…notably lacking a number four.
After the cancellation of Fable Legends and the closure of Lionhead Studios, it seemed the Fable IP was doomed to remain forgotten. Now, Playground Games has a chance to create their own entry into the series. Judging from the new title’s name, fans can expect a series reboot and not a direct sequel to 2010’s Fable 3. Hopefully Playground Games stays true to what made Fable great, rebooting it in such a way as to retain all its alluring bits while ushering it into the coming generation.
#5: An MMO or No?
A rumour from French journalist @CronoTK on Twitter implied Playground Games’ Fable wouldn’t be a direct sequel, but an MMO set in Lionhead’s original universe. The same Journalist accurately predicted the Xbox Showcase’s entire lineup prior to the event. While rumours should be taken with a grain of salt, it makes sense for Microsoft to want to penetrate the MMO market. Lionhead’s universe ranges from medieval fantasy to industrial steampunk, taking place in multiple time periods. Fable’s world as an MMO could be as diverse as WoW’s.
If Fable is an MMO, it’s important for Playground Games to deliver the story aspect for which fans will be searching. MMO’s such as SWTOR instill the “massively multiplayer” experience while still providing class-based story campaigns brimming with voiced dialogue options and moral decisions. Many fans surely hope for a series reboot, not an MMO, but Playground Games could still appease their audience by implementing a good model. Albion has enough room to be explored as a massive online world, and topics for many stories and adventures.
#4: Horns and Halos
The player-hero’s angelic or demonic appearance has always been part of Fable’s charm, until Fable 3, that is. While the third game didn’t do away with the morality system, it did remove the physical features players would attain from extreme moral alignments—halo for good and horns for evil. Players did get cool horns and wings but only during a temporary attack animation, which was a letdown. It’s FABLE, please let players look as angelic, demonic, ghoulish, fantastic, or as plain as they’d like.
Lionhead’s good and evil mechanic was still novel in its day, despite the similar system used in Bioware’s previously released Kotor. These days, however, RPGs have pushed the boundaries of emotional storytelling and moral choice. Fable is quirky and fun, it shouldn’t stick to rigorous black-and-white morality systems. Give players tough decisions and challenge them instead of providing generic scenarios where the good choice is to behave like a normal person and the bad choice is to act as a deranged psycho without decency or morality.
#2: The Dog
The dog. Everyone knows which dog. The amazing best friend introduced in Fable 2. Quite possibly, the greatest addition to a video game in the history of gaming. MMO or not, players better be able to have man’s best friend tag along on adventures. For such a simple concept, the canine companion added emotion and depth to the sequel. A Fable fan who didn’t enjoy following the sound of barking to find areas in which to dig for treasure was a rare breed. It was truly a player’s best friend.
MMO or not, Fable needs to be an RPG. Fable, while not living up to all of Molyneux’s promises, was an amazing RPG for its time and revolutionary on many fronts. The sequel brought its own changes, including the dog, and was good in its own right, though, arguably not as good as the original. Fable 2’s lack of an armor system was a unique decision back when RPGs depended on upgrading armor and stats for progression. Removing armor from the gameplay was brave but paid off.
It created a refreshing RPG, as players were free to dress and portray themselves as desired without sacrificing gameplay viability. Needless to say this should be baked into the new Fable, either through the same system where no stats are attributed to cosmetic items, or through a system similar to WoW’s Transmogrify. In fact, players should be able to “transmogrify” moral cosmetics such as horns, after they’ve obtained them. The more freedom in appearance choice, the better.
Fable has always had its consistent magic/bow/sword system attributed to three respective buttons. If this new game is a reboot, it’ll likely feature a similar system, perhaps with revamped AI and combat. For MMOs, however, a class system is usually implemented, which doesn’t fit that to which fans are accustomed. Fable doesn’t have classes, as each Hero has their own unique powers. Regardless, there’s now newfound hope in the heart of every Fable fan who once assumed the series was over. Playground Games, please deliver.