The stuff legends are made of
Fable fans have waited three years for a proper return to Albion, and they’ll finally get a chance with Fable Legends, which I got to see firsthand on the Gamescom show floor.
Keep in mind, however, that what I saw simply scratched the surface. By the sounds of it, Legends is far from anywhere near complete. If I had to hazard a professional guess, a holiday 2014 release date would be optimistic at this point.
From what I was able to gather from the reveal—as well as a 10-minute demo further illustrating basic game mechanics—Legends will be a throwback to the era of the original Fable, where heroes were plentiful and it seemed that almost anyone could channel strength, skill, or will. Unlike heroes of the past games, however, players will choose from one of several pre-determined warriors who specialize in one of these three pillars of Fable combat. This is a drastic shift away from the customization for which Fable is known, and even if you’re able to create your characters, limiting their abilities might make longtime fans wary.
The major reason for shifting away from one-size-fits-all characters? Legends is designed around four-player co-op. Either with three friends, three AI characters, or a mix of the two, players will always be traveling with a pack of heroes in order to quell the coming threats to Albion.
Whether these quests will be individual adventures or be part of an overarching story is yet to be seen, but I think the latter’s less likely. A level-summary screen popped up at certain points in the demo, which seems to indicate that each specific quest will stand on its own. This would also fit the idea of players taking on a collection of legends from Albion’s past instead of going on a new adventure with semi-fleshed-out characters.
Not everything will be foreign to returning players in Legends, though. The game will still feature a central town that will host the same manner of minigames that have become staples of Fable, such as blacksmithing or chicken-kicking. It’s not clear yet whether this will serve as a hub world where you can recruit other heroes on your adventuring ways, almost like a MMO.
But it’s not all about being a hero—a unique gameplay twist in Legends is that players can now choose to be the villain. This core evildoer will look at the game from a RTS perspective and plant Hobbes, Balverines, and other manner of foes in the heroes’ way and will gain XP and gold depending on how well their defenses hamper the heroes’ progress.
As much as Fable Legends worries me in regards to story, gameplay, and every other key feature, I’ll admit that it does looks really nice on the Xbox One. The demo provided a level of detail on my favorite fantastical creatures like never before—and, if nothing else, Lionhead has shown that they can definitely tap into the power of Microsoft’s upcoming console. Since the game’s still more than likely at least another 18 months out, there’s plenty of time for Lionhead to work out the kinks. That’s the Microsoft way now, after all, isn’t it?