Fable. There is something magical when we think about this series. And no, I don’t just mean your Hero’s abilities. There was the alignment system which not only affected how you looked but your interactions with the characters within Albion. And let’s not forget the sheer silliness that infected anyone who played it with a good laugh.
It was a game that few could hate in the beginning. But with each passing installment, the magic was lost. Now, over a decade has passed without a new title and it begs the question: Are they making a big mistake with Fable 4?
Fable was something different. It was silly and British and dove into a sense of morality that was unseen in many games of the same time.
Sure, there were other alignment systems out there like Knights of the Old Republic, but nothing quite like this. Maybe I’m wrong and feel free to let me know. But Fable was most definitely my first experience with an alignment system quite like this. Your look would change, your relationship with the NPCs and they interacted with you. Your choices in how you treated those around you had consequences. Talk about a life lesson.
Then there was the fact that its entire premise was around being a Hero. You simply existed and created your own story in your way. Now, this was quite a while ago, so this idea was a bit linear. Still, the concept was a blast.
I recently replayed the original Fable and was instantly transported to another time. I remembered so clearly just how crazy cool this game was when it was released. You all know what I mean – that feeling you get when you find a new series that you love. Sure, there was plenty of issues. But who cares? I still loved reliving every second of it.
The other two, however, never quite felt the same as the first. A series is supposed to get better as it progresses, and in some cases it did. The graphics improved and they introduced some new things like the dog. But not everything was welcomed. The dog was awesome in Fable II and then a throwaway in Fable III. Firearms were added and I’m not sure anyone was crazy about that. I know I wasn’t. The combat felt like a nuisance. Honestly, I could go on and on.
Overall, I think this is why Fable died. Each installment felt like a huge step backward and for most, the magic was lost.
What’s Different Now?
Anyone who games know that Lionhead Studios is gone. The beloved creators of Fable are dead and buried as a studio. So, who will bring us a new one?
Now, we all know this a great studio. But I always cringe when I hear someone else is taking over a story from an original creator. Maybe it’s just my PTSD from the Star Wars debacle. Who knows? Either way, we all know this can go south fast.
As a writer, however, I know that a fresh set of eyes can be one of the most important tools in your arsenal. Sometimes it takes another person to point out the flaws and see the better paths for your creation. Lionhead produced, in my opinion, a masterpiece. But somewhere along the way, the magic was lost. Things were focused on that maybe shouldn’t have been and others were left behind.
This is where Playground Games might be the saving grace and from the trailer, I think they may have it.
If they respect the foundations of the games while bringing a fresh perspective, we may have the best Fable game yet. They just need to fall into the trap of reinventing the wheel. Really look at what worked and expand on that. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that they have today’s technology behind them. There is still a fan base willing to follow if they toe the line and keep to these guidelines.
A Loyal Fan’s Wishlist
- KEEP ITS SOUL! The soul of Fable is vital to this revival. It needs to be silly and chock full of classy British humor. One thing that I always loved about Fable was that it was good for a laugh. So, few games utilize humor the way Fable did, and the world is a worse place for it. Also, a major part of the soul of this game is the morality of it. Expand on the alignment system and the relationships with the NPCs. It is still rare to see a game do this and I think it’s a market ripe for the taking.
- CHOICES! This kind of goes hand and hand with alignment, but I would love to see our choices have more depth. This is something that is largely being explored by current RPGs and will be missed without it. Our actions should alter the course. If a player decides to be evil, make the ripple effect greater. Make us really think about the choices we are making and feel their consequences.
- RAMP UP COMBAT! One of my biggest complaints about Fable is combat. It always felt like more of a nuisance than part of the game. Stronger enemies were dull. There was no difficulty or fear. I’m not even sure if I ever died in combat. Make us feel the tension and the buildup to boss battles. Make them complex and nuanced. If this game is another button masher, I might break my TV.
- QUESTS! We need more than errands. I loved building relationships with the townsfolk, but I couldn’t stand their side quests. It was just mindless errand running that was repetitive. Plus, I found that the story lines declined greatly in the last two games. Make me feel it and you will have me hooked. Pay that extra for a stellar writer. I’m available…
- KEEP WHAT WORKS! The dog was awesome in Fable II. I freaking loved that little puppo and was devasted in Fable III when he felt like a throwaway. Let’s fix that. Then there are the mini games. I don’t know about you, but I would spend hours on these frustrating little terrors and loved every second of it. So, make sure to keep that going. And let’s not forget the real estate. I know some people weren’t fans, but I was, and I say keep it. I had a blast buying houses and shops only to watch with maniacal glee as I screwed with the economy of Albion.
Without these things, I’m not sure I could bring myself to play the game. I don’t even really like to think about the sequels much. I enjoyed them sure, but nothing compares to the original.
If Playground Games can bring that same magic to me, then I will stay loyal to the end.
Let me know what are your “must haves” in the comments. Or tear me apart. Either way, I can’t wait to see what you all have to say!