Fable 3 Preview
Peter Molyneux sat down with us this week, walked us through a bunch of new features in Fable III (video interview on the way!), then perched himself across from me and watched me play through the first hour of the game…while commenting on my decisions. At one point, he actually said out loud: “Ah, yes. That’s exactly what I wanted you to do.”
He is a curious man, in more ways than one.
He is curious in the sense that he is so intently focused on crafting an experience with his games that he wonders about people’s reactions and how they make decisions, and he certainly does his research. We asked him whether Fable players tend to create “good” or “evil” characters. He said, “It depends on what country you’re from.” He proceeded to tell us that Americans, overwhelmingly, play “good” characters. Interesting, right? Then he said that the French are basically split — half evil, half good. Curious stuff indeed.
Anyway, we were happy to talk with a cool visionary like Peter, and we have a bunch of new info on Fable III. Here we go.
The opening cinematic for Fable III is actually a previously released trailer, in which a chicken bumbles around the newly-industrialized world of Albion–through city streets, factories, a bakery, etc. Albion has become a more technologically advanced world, but is plagued by a wicked ruler, named Logan.
Unlike Fable II, you do not start the game as a lowly orphan. You are a prince living in the palace, and are in fact the brother of the corrupt King Logan. Your butler, Jasper (voiced wonderfully by John Cleese), rustles you out of bed and insists that you go to meet your girlfriend Elise.
You get up, grab a new change of clothes and then head outside the castle to meet Elise. She is troubled by Logan’s severity, and begs you to intervene. You actually have the option to kiss her at this point, which we did. Couldn’t resist.
When you get back into the castle, you team up with Sir Walter Beck — your mentor and combat trainer. He takes your side, and suggests that you all go and confront Logan.
We need to tread carefully here, so as to avoid spoilers. Suffice it to say, you confront Logan, but are faced with an extremely difficult choice. It’s kind of gut-wrenching, actually.
Since you’ve turned against Logan, and are no longer welcome, Beck and Jasper suggest that you “become your father’s son,” leave the castle and start an official rebellion against Logan. You all set off through a secret escape route in the castle.
You go through a portal, and are face to face with Theresa, the seal of the Spire. You’ll remember her from Fable II. She explains how “leveling up” works in Fable III.
Unlike Fable II, your character’s progression is not represented by a series of XP bars on the screen. Instead, when it’s time to gain new abilities, you’ll return to a winding path in front of Logan’s castle. The path is blocked by a series of large, locked gates. As you gain “followers” in the game, you can unlock chests containing new abilities in front of each gate, and you can also unlock gates and move one step closer to overthrowing Logan.
Peter, seeing me absorb all of this, chimed in: “You see how you’re ‘discovering’ the XP bar, as opposed to just seeing it in a 2D interface? Because it’s an actual part of the world, I think it works so much better.”
Theresa gave us the Gauntlet of Fire, and sent us back on our way.
I warped back to Jasper and Beck, and we were in a very large “secret passage” (basically a cave) that serves as an escape route from the castle. Beck explains that “we’ll need followers” to overthrow Logan (more on that later). In the meantime, a bunch of bats attack us, and I get to try out the magic system.
The Fire Gauntlet has a few attack variants. You can quickly flick RT to create a small, circular wall-of-fire attack around you. You can also hold RT for as long as you want, which will infinitely charge the power of the attack, and execute a very large circular fire blast. Or, you can flick RT and push LS in the direction of an enemy, to fire a projectile fire attack straight at a single enemy. Finally, you can also hold RT, and push LS in the direction of an enemy for a much more powerful fire attack aimed at a single enemy.
Now, the version that we played had about “a thousand bugs,” according to Peter. The magic combat worked pretty well, but the targeting was a little off because of this. Peter mentioned that the version we were playing was a few weeks old, and the current version was down to about “eighty-six bugs.” Even so, it worked pretty well and was good fun blowing up some bats.
Eventually, you’ll warp to a new location with Jasper and Beck. It is your “father’s sanctuary,” a circular library-like room that serves as your home base, and your “pause menu,” in Fable III. The Sanctuary will allow you to change outfits in the dressing room, swap weapons in the Armory, warp to new locations from the world map in the middle of the room, view collected treasure in the Treasury, and more stuff Peter wouldn’t reveal.
This is another example of how menus are being replaced by real-world locations and interactions in Fable III. When you hit the start button, you’ll be brought back to the Sanctuary, where you can handle all pause menu-type functions, before warping back to wherever you were.
As previously mentioned, you’ll need to acquire “followers” in order to unlock gates, gain new abilities and move closer to overthrowing Logan.
We got our first taste of this when we warped from our new Sanctuary into the town of Mist Peak — a wooded village populated with a poor, starving citizenry. Beck assured us that “this is where the revolution is born.” We were there to visit the town’s leader, called Sabeem, and to gain followers.
On the way to Sabeem, you can interact with the town’s folk. By interacting with citizens, shaking their hands, doing good deeds for them, etc., you’ll increase their opinion of you, and eventually win them over as a full blown “follower.” Followers function as a form of currency in Fable III, allowing you to purchase new abilities and progress further along the path towards Logan.
Peter also mentioned that, a little later in the game, you can unlock a new “pack” of social interactions, which gives you many more options for winning over townsfolk.
Fable III is definitely keeping the core that made the series popular. It’s a massive, explorable world with a ton of characters, lots of customization possibilities and a fun adventure. What’s changing is the gameplay emphasis. RPG number crunching is being replaced by realism. It’s an interesting departure for the series, and one that seems to work well so far.
Fable III hits October 26, 2010 exclusively for the Xbox 360. Look out for our full review then.
Our full review can be found quite easily by simply clicking here.