Fable 3 Follow-Ups: Four Peter Molyneux Franchises That Need To Be Rebooted


Posted October 14, 2010 - By Stephen Johnson

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Gaze Upon Fable 3's Dashing Hero In New Screenshot

The Fable franchise is obviously very, very impressive. In fact, check out our exclusive look at the new Sand Furies in Fable 3 to see just how impressive it continues to be. But, it's a shame that so many gamers only know the name Peter Molyneux from this series of games. Molyneux's resume is huge, and includes some of the most interesting, innovative titles ever created, in a huge variety of genres, from simulation games, to RTS games, to sci-fi. While Molyneux isn't exactly known for looking backwards, we'd love it if he'd consider rebooting or remaking these older, classic games before taking on the next Fable.

Populous: This practically pre-historic game was (arguably) the first ever "god game" and among the first ever real-time strategy games too. It puts players in control of civilization that must be fed, cared for, and shepherded toward advancement in order to crush the civilization on the other side of the map. You do this largely by providing your people with usable land and indirectly influencing them through your religious leader. Although you have some plagues and disasters you can hurl at the enemy, the game largely involved leading indirectly through your in-game prophet. Like the real(?) God's followers, your people have a measure of free will -- you can't order them to attack, you can only watch them follow your avatar to locations of your choosing.

Populous was a revolutionary game, but it's been over 20 years since release, and obviously the RTS genre has gone way beyond the simple play of this title. Still, rarely has any game presented you, the player, with quite the God-like feeling this game engendered, and The gameplay is rock solid. A current version of Populous would mostly need an improvement in graphics and the ability to micro-manage your society and/or walk around among your people as opposed to any systemic changes.

Theme Park -- Peter Molyneux was responsible for an early entry into the business sim genre with Theme Park, a PC game that came out in 1994. Theme Park tasks you with building and managing a, you guessed it, theme park, where you will create  rides, hire employees, make concession stands, and otherwise manage your property.

While building your park was fun, the game was not an easy game to win. The simulation provided realistic (and sometimes maddening) difficulties to overcome, and focuses more on actual management than the flashiness at the center of the roller coaster games that followed it.

The computing power at the time limited the ability to actually ride your ride, and to some extent, the depth of the simulation, a problem that could easily be remedied these days. Plus, the addition of an online component would allow you to visit other people's amusement parks. Imagine a deeper version of Roller Coaster Tycoon that also included other kinds of rides and allowed the "build anything" sandbox, level-making of something like LittleBigPlanet and you have an idea of the possibilities inherent in a new version of Theme Park.

Dungeon Keeper: Dungeon Keeper was another innovative series from Molyneux. The game tasks you with building your own dungoen and stocking it with monster and traps. The goal is to make sure any adventurers foolish enough to enter your domain never walk out. It's a reversal of the traditional RPG paradigm, and finally gives players the chance to play super-villain and design the ultimate deathtrap. Gameplay wise, it's like an RTS -- resource management, strategic thinking, etc.-- but the interesting flip on a well known genre and Molyneux's trademark humor make this a truly unique experience.

Remaking Dungeon Keeper would allow for a much deeper, better looking game, but like the rest of the games on this list, the gameplay itself is so solid in the original, no major changes would be needed to create an amazing, current game.

Kalypso Media is currently working on a PC game called Dungeons (with a 2011 release date) which sounds like it owes a spiritual debt to Dungeon Keeper. You play a "Dungeon Lord" who attempts to capture heroes in his maze in order to harvest their souls. Intriquing enough for me to want to try it, but honestly, without Molyneux, I doubt it will compare.

Black & White: This is another game where the player is God -- it's Molyneux's whole thing -- but Black & White adds a focus on morality and more personal interaction with your society, as well as deeper gameplay and a quest structure. In Populous, the interactions with your flock were distant, but here, you intervene directly in the lives of your believers. The goal is to build up adherents by either being really kind and awesome, or being a total douche-god and scaring them into compliance. Because you are the ultimate moral authority, you can choose to follow a Good path or an Evil one, and you even have a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other to help you make up your mind. The game gives you a pet you must train, whose development, skills and appearance depends on your moral choices, a lot like your dog pal in the Fable games.

Black & White tries to combine specific quests with open-ended gameplay, sometimes disapointing fans of each in the process, so a console reboot would take some tweaking, but I could see a great use for online play. Imagine a seperate mode where your civilization and creature battle your friend's civilization and creature to the death.

Honorable Mention: The Syndicate. The Syndicate was the game that inspired this list. Everyone who played it wants a next-gen version. Luckily for all of us, it looks like developer Starbreeze is working on a new entry in the series, although it hasn't been officially announced, so we can't tell you any official details.

Fable 3 Follow-Ups: Four Peter Molyneux Franchises That Need To Be Rebooted


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