With Playground Games working on a brand-new Fable game, let’s look into some things that might make the upcoming game great.
Fable was one of my favourite standout games from the classic Xbox generation. Since its launch in 2004, the game offered players an RPG with choices that affected the protagonist in both popularity across the game’s world and the character’s physical appearance. The success from the original title led to Fable II and Fable III with each game offering different ways of playing while keeping the core “your choices matter” play at heart. Fable II had a dog while Fable III found itself pushing more moral choices to the player as they managed a city and its politics.
While there have been various spin-off titles such as Fable: The Journey, and Fable Fortune to name a few, the franchise went quiet. Lionhead Studios shut down in 2016, subsequently ending production of what was supposed to be the next instalment: Fable Legends. However, after some years of rumours, Playground Games announced last year that it was working on the next Fable title. We got a cinematic trailer but no gameplay nor a release date.
And that’s more than enough reason to speculate on what I’d want to see from the upcoming fantasy epic from the developers that brought us Forza Horizon 4. Also, here’s the trailer for it below, but it’s you’re seeing “This video is age-restricted” I’m incredibly sorry. YouTube doesn’t like embedded videos anymore! Without further ado, let’s get into what I want to see when Fable launches at some point in the future.
A Story Set Before Fable
When it comes to deciding exactly where the next story should take place on the Fable timeline, it’s a tricky choice because of how the history and development of the game’s world change things. Set the story too far back, engineering won’t have progressed enough to allow the guns we saw in the second game, set it too far forward and it could lead to modernization that kills the fantasy fairy tale vibe as with the third game.
Fable 2 was set 500 years after the original story, and Fable 3 set only 50 years after the second game. The game’s creator, Peter Molyneux told IGN that the time jumps between each games time periods were a “big mistake” and so I’m confident that Playground Games may honour that thinking and just send things back to simplicity. I’d like to see a game set somewhere in those 500 years but through a story that doesn’t deteriorate the lore for Fable 2 and 3.
The Return of Jack of Blades
Jack of Blades has managed to remain one of my all-time favourite antagonists in a video game. Partly down to his badass personality, but mostly for that iconic mask. Jack of Blades doesn’t make an appearance in the sequel and threequel, and I think if the new game was to be set after the events of the first game, then having some way of summoning him back to Albion would be a good way to bring back an iconic evil character.
Regardless of how the story and setting would go, I think Jack of Blades would be able to harness some form of evil powers to return once again and cause havoc in the world. Whether the player takes on the role of a new hero or even having some ties to the hero from the first game could obviously result in good old Jacko wanting to seek revenge before looking to unleash hell.
A Vast Open-World
While the previous 3 games have been loosely open-world with linear paths and sections, the fact that we’ve seen Playground Games offer a vast open-world with Forza Horizon 4 points to us getting something massive for Fable. Additionally, with the focus on SSD power these days, it’s likely we’ll see a seamless world that’s relatively free of loading screens.
I’d particularly like to explore the world in the same way I was able to explore the world in Red Dead Redemption 2 or Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Both titles having an incredible number of references tucked away in with different areas. With this same sort of vastness, Fable could be ripe for having you struggle through a dark forest filled with Balverines and then emerge near a small town that’s surrounded by towering wooden walls.
A Dog Companion
Fable 2 and 3 were great games for many reasons, but they were also great games because of the good boy you get to have at your side throughout. Having the woofy little pupper helping you out in your adventure to locate treasures and defend you in battle made it feel great to have a dog. And with the gaming industry’s obsession with petting random dogs in game worlds, why not give players the chance to pet their own companion at any given time?
Additionally, the dog can help you form an emotional bond with it the more you explore. And if the world is going to be a vast world, having that canine pal by your side during exploration may make for a less lonesome journey. And don’t hate me for saying this, but I feel like having your dog capable of being killed might make for more intense battles in which you fight to defend it.
An Accessibility Haven
Accessibility in the video games industry boomed massively in 2020. We saw Ubisoft, Naughty Dog, and other studios both big and small making efforts to allow more players to play their games. Xbox has done a great job in creating accessible experiences for players, and also has a huge focus on the tagline “When everyone plays, we all win”. With Playground Games being under the Xbox Game Studios umbrella, I’m hoping we’ll see a wealth of accessibility features done well.
The previous games were developed around the time where accessibility wasn’t as intentional, yet it still had interesting visual elements that helped in gameplay. Outlines were present around characters and interactive objects, the UI was fairly well presented and clear, the subtitles weren’t perfect, but they were there. If the studio follows its learnings from Forza Horizon 4 as well as other Xbox Game Studios titles such as Gears 5, I’d be excited to see more players enjoy and experience the game.
There may be iconic silent protagonists such as Crash Bandicoot and Gordon Freeman, but these I feel like Fable needs to have some in-depth voice acting for a protagonist this time around. The other games have all had a silent protagonist who only seems to communicate in emotes. The original game lacked even a scream.
Having a voice helps make the conversations feel more natural, and if we had a way to choose how our characters voice sounded like Dragon Age did, it’d help add that flair to the customisation of your hero. Or perhaps it’ll just do what Cyberpunk 2077 does and makes you feel as if you’re experiencing a character’s journey rather than your own.
Custom Weapons and Armor
Fable was always a game that felt like you were actually building a character how you wanted. At least in terms of shaping your path and justifying moral choices. But you were kind of tied down to the armour available in the game’s world. And while that in itself was okay, I think I’d like to have the choice to visit a blacksmith and customize my armour and weapons’ appearance.
Perhaps it could be as simple as just changing the type of fabric for your belt or the type of grain for your wooden bow, or maybe it could be more complex, such as Red Dead Redemption 2 in which you apply engravings, markings, leather straps, etc. Maybe even taking heed from Jedi: Fallen Order and applying different styles to specific weapon parts.
The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim is a game that bleeds with interactive lore, with players picking up books about Argonian erotica or backstories on different cities. The Witcher, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Cyberpunk 2077, all have in-game notes to find that add even more information of the world to your lore memory bank. But with Fable, if memory serves me correctly, the lore was tucked away on an external official website rather than available in-game.
Part of the enjoyment of open-world exploration is that there’s potential to hide things away. Being able to visit a library at the Guild would be great for lore-hungry players. And in Fable, players were able to break in and sneak around villagers’ houses and rob them. But I’d like to be able to see character backstories, so even though robbing is an evil deed in itself, the possible guilt from robbing someone could potentially make you feel even worse,
So there you have it, some of my thoughts on what I’d like to see in the upcoming Fable title. It’s been a game that was a strong part of my childhood on the original Xbox, so waiting in anticipation for more details has got me incredibly excited. Although somewhat impatient.
So far we’ve not had a release date given for Playground Games’ upcoming title, and job postings seem to indicate that it’s quite a way yet. But it is confirmed to be heading to PC and Xbox Series X | S. The game will also have Anna Megill as a lead writer alongside industry veterans from studios such as Rocksteady, Gearbox, Ninja Theory, and Bioware.