One of the most pleasant surprises of gamescom 2013 was the reveal of Fable Legends from Lionhead and Microsoft, an Xbox One exclusive action RPG being built on Unreal Engine 4 from Epic Games. That’s a lot of companies, technology and nomenclature, but during a demo guided by Lionhead studio head John Needham and game director David Eckelberry, we were introduced to what the team is calling a “true next generation RPG.” To begin, the nature of Fable Legends was made very clear:
“Fable Legends is not an MMO, but an online game that combines the classic Fable experience that we all love, with all of the online capabilities available with the Xbox One.”
According to Needham, the developers of Fable Legends have “400 years of Fable experience” while the core team of veterans at Lionhead has been supplemented with experts from “some of the best online games.” Speaking from his own experiences, Needham said “I love this industry. I love RPGs, and I love the land of Albion, so it’s really a privilege for me to be […] a part of Fable Legends.”
Eckelberry then stepped up to the plate to deliver his vision for Fable Legends, saying that the game is a “Fable that’s full of magic, and folklore, fairytales and mythology. A Fable that takes us back to the core of what it means explore the realm of Albion, where most human villagers are hiding in their tiny villages, afraid to go out into the scary dark woods.
“But a hero? That’s what you get a chance to be. Someone who is special in this world, who we’ve only now been able to build thanks to the power of the Xbox One, and thanks to Unreal Engine 4.”
Fable Legends – Announce Trailer
Fable Legends production is still “very early days,” says Eckelberry, but what was on display already looked very sophisticated as we took in a demonstration of a mission called ‘The Moon on the Stick,’ which is based around a magical artefact upon which children have made wishes that have come true.
Throughout the demo, Eckelberry was eager to let us know that Fable Legends contains everything we know and love about the Fable series, exemplified by the game’s unique humour, quests and stories which will be comedic, epic and tragic in equal measure. Who you are is a big part of the game and you’ll be able to customise your look and abilities while telling your own stories and building your legacy.
Bright Lodge city, for example, is also very ‘Fable-like’ with non-playable characters to chat with, areas to explore, mini-games to play and chickens to chase, but there is lots new in Fable Legends as well. The four-player co-operative feature, for one, will allow you to play with three AI-controlled fantasy heroes or three friends online, or any combination between. Knowing your role as a defender, rogue, spell caster and all-out brawler will play a big part in the success or failure of quests, so supporting and complementing your party’s skills with your own will be necessary to continue your journey.
It was fun hearing the characters interact with one another while roaming the land and during combat with impish creatures and lumbering ogres, and they each have their own set of quips, unique voices and personalities to keep the dialogue interesting. Knowing and taking advantage of your own hero’s skills can come in handy when deciding to rush ahead to pick up experience points orbs, or holding back until the area is clear of enemies before picking up treasure, too.
As Eckelberry pointed out, Fable has always allowed you to play as a pristine hero or a filthy villain, and in Fable Legends the team is taking this a step further by outright letting you become a despicable scoundrel by setting up traps and ambushes to catch the four heroes by surprise. Using an Xbox One controller, or SmartGlass via a tablet device, you’ll have the chance to become “the ultimate villain.”
The way this was demonstrated was almost like a tower defence game, where the villain placed nodes that represented creatures and traps in what Eckelberry called a “strategy phase.” Once this phase is over, the enemies spawned into existence, at which time the villain could additionally take control of the creatures in a top-down view of the world by setting them tasks, telling them where to go and which special abilities to perform.
Using this asymmetrical gameplay system, it’s possible for five players to get involved in a game of Fable Legends, or any combination of player and AI-controlled character. If you want to practice being a villain by setting up challenges for AI heroes, you can do just that.
To end the demo, the heroes faced off against a villain in control of some imps and a towering (and rather peculiar) boss creature: An ogre with a talking head on a stick. As the two ogre personalities traded gibes and taunts, the heroes made quick work of the threat, before the tides were turned in another match-up that saw the heroes destroyed by the skilled villain player, which resulted in a victory screen (of sorts) as the ogre(s) made dinner plans with the freshly defeated humans firmly in mind…
Despite how early into development the game is, Fable Legends is looking incredibly promising and with the talent entrenched at Lionhead and the team’s focus on creating a game for Fable fans, I’m convinced that this ‘next generation RPG’ is going to continue to impress a lot of players in the months leading up to release, and for months after launch thanks to the very innovative opportunities for co-operative play in any style you wish.
I’m looking forward to finding out more very soon, so keep up with El33tonline’s previous and continued coverage of this exciting action RPG in the future.