X10 Report: Fable IIIBy Andrew Pfister - Posted Feb 11, 2010
Fable III, announced at last fall’s GamesCom convention in Germany, is the latest installment in Peter Molyneux’s ambitious action-adventure series/venue for wacky gameplay & meta-life simulation experimentations. Contrary to previous industry scuttlebutt, the amount of Project Natal usage is apparently yet-to-be decided. Some motion-control may still happen, but everything I saw in today’s demo was completely controller-based and familiar to anyone who’s played previous Fable games.
What’s the status?
The lead character of Fable III is actually your 18-year old son from Fable II. Albion is ruled by an evil tyrant, and the goal, as it always seems to be, is to depose him and take over. (At least, that’s the *first* goal…more on that below).
What we saw:
It was a multi-part demo designed to show off the two main features he wanted us to see pre-GDC. The first, and seemingly most important to Molyneux, is the concept of “touch.” It was shown to us by having your character hold hands with an NPC and lead them around Bowerstone. The first example was finding your daughter and returning her home to your understandably angry wife. The second was finding a bum down on his luck and helping him to his feet. Holding hands is a simple idea, but the effectiveness is going to be the context of what happens. In the case of your daughter, she’ll notice when you walk too close to the pub entrance and remind you that the Missus isn’t a fan of how often you’re there. In the far more hilarious case of the bum, he thinks that you’re helping him out by leading him to shelter…but then freaks out when he realizes that you’ve taken him to the factory and intend to sell him into servitude. Molyenux also noted that the touch concept also carries over into two-player co-operative play. So you can hold hands with your buddy and stroll through the countryside, admiring your handiwork.
The second game mechanic and significant change from previous Fable games is that Molyneux is throwing out some pretty established action-RPG conventions. Namely, on-screen indicators, traditional weapon upgrading, and leveling-up via experience. Done freaking out yet?
A quick explanation of the changes:
- Instead of a health bar, we get the “warping and blurring camera perspective” popularized by FPS games.
- Instead of upgrading weapons, the weapons upgrade themselves both cosmetically and with increased power based on how you use them. Kill a certain type of enemy more often, and the color and texture will change. Keep killing with a certain weapon, and it’ll grow larger and change shape the more you use it. And the glow it emanates will change based on the guilt or innocence of your victims. This is tied to your Xbox Live Gamertag, and you will be forever marked as the one who created it.
- Leveling-up and experience is replaced by the concept of “followers,” which you accrue and/or lose based on your decisions in the story.
And that’s the most interesting part of Fable III to me. Back at GamesCom during his first announcement, Molyneux talked about the idea of revolution and maintaining rule. The first half of the game, you’re gathering and leading a rebellion to overthrow the tyrant and assume your role as the new leader. But the second half deals with the ramifications of how you got to that power in the first place, and the responsibilities that power now entails. The game won’t change too dramatically – you’ll still be able to go outside and complete quests – but there are two new mechanics introduced. The first is that you can make “judgements” that affect the citizenry. The second is something Molyneux said he’s revealing at the upcoming Game Developers Conference in a few weeks.
When asked if the story would continue once you became King, Molyneux was coy, only willing to again stress that there would be consequences and debts you’ll have to consider related to your rise to power. If I had to hazard a guess as to what that means? Perhaps you’ll have to fend off another young upstart intent on toppling your rule...