After the royal disappointment that was Fable III and the damp squib that was Fable: The Journey, the shape of Lionhead Studios changed dramatically with the departure of head and founder, Peter Molyneux. However, even without his ambitious resolve, the Fable series still marches on ahead into the future. The latest title will focus on taking an action multiplayer approach, as opposed to the single player RPGs of past titles. Initially, there was some scope for scepticism over how this will work, but having had some time to sit and play the game, the pieces of the puzzle have fallen into place a little neater.
Fable Legends has five playable characters, across two sides: the good guys and bad guy. The good guys will be made up of a team of four, where you can have the four different classes all combining to help each other, or a mix of the four, up to a point where all four in the team pick the same class. Essentially, there are two melee class, and two ranged classes. As you would expect, the melee are divided into the light and heavy weapons, while the ranged classes focus on magic and ranged weaponry. You’ll need to keep an eye on each other, by protecting, healing and reviving as necessary.
It was also noticeable that the combat has been improved over the one-button system in Fable III, to a more traditional 3rd person action setup, with abilities mapped into your face buttons. This change will certainly be welcome over a system that unfortunately, had become too simple for its own good. However, the real revelation of the game comes when playing as the villain. Inspired by a style similar to classics such as Dungeon Keeper, the gameplay of the villain was very different to the good guys.
Essentially, playing as the villain entailed setting up the play arena for each ‘wave’. Within each wave, you’d have a budget for spending on the placement of enemies and traps for the good guys. And your overall goal is to prevent the good guys from getting to the end of each of the levels. Played from an isometric perspective, strategic placement of different kinds of nefarious minions at your disposal was key, and each could be further controlled through their placement on a face button of the controller. However, you’d be able to set traps and activate them in real time as you played as well. Playing as the villain is essentially, no pun intended, trolling (even the developers have nicknamed it ‘troll simulator’).
Probably the biggest concern though is whether it is possible to balance the two very different sides – as a good guy it could be frustrating to know just how much power the bad guy has. For the time being though, we don’t know anything about the motivations of the heroes, nor whether why the villain is the villain… However! All these things and many more – such as whether you’ll be able to use Kinect with the famed Fable gestures – are set to be revealed in the coming months. And of course, we can look forward to the release sometime in 2015.