Title: Fable Legends
Release Date:June 1st 2015
Age Rating: Universal
I’m so stoked to be writing this Fable Legends preview. Fable Legends is such an interesting title: a new direction for Lionhead and one of the best series of the past decade. I’ve played through the Fable Legends beta and have the full scoop on the Fable Legends single player campaign, multiplayer, release date, and everything else you need to know….
Heading to Xbox One and PC later in the year, and offering cross-platform play between console and PC users, Fable Legends has already been met with criticism. The decision to make Fable Legends free-to-play has been a controversial one. But Lionhead remain confident of their decision.
The idea behind the payment scheme is this. You get given four characters for free for a period of time. You then (Lionhead hope) become attached to those characters. The characters stop being free (they are replaced by new free-to-play characters). And at this point you’re left a decision: say goodbye to the characters you’ve become attached to, or pay to keep playing them.
It’s a reasonable enough proposition. As Fable Legends’ director David Eckelberry says, “You can do everything without giving us money.” Lionhead aren’t about to let their fans’ raised eyebrows trouble them any. “Fans will understand why the [payment model] is good for fans and good for the game,” says Eckelberry.
When I started writing this Fable Legends preview I was worried about the free-to-play-model. But here comes the good news. . .
When I started working on this Fable Legends preview I was worried that Fable Legends might be taking the play-to-win route. Truth be told, I should never have doubted Lionhead’s commitment to their fans. “There are free-to-play games like World of Tanks out there that are very much a pay-to-win kind of experience,” says Eckelberry. “For me the better games for the customers are the ones where you get to enjoy all of the content without paying money. And then you pay if you want to.”
The only other thing players will have to pay for in Fable Legends is to access the hidden chests littered around Albion. While some chests are free, others must be purchased through either in-game silver or real money. Eckelberry promises, however, that any item players purchase with real money will be more than worth the expense.“I want my players to feel like, ‘Oh, I bought something cool. I don’t regret that purchase,‘ That’s what matters to me.”
The free-to-play model definitely is generous, but it’s also understandable. Compared to indie developers, who need to make cash quick or close up shop, Fable Legends has the backing of Microsoft, whose stock price is currently at a dazzling high of 42.89. With such deep pockets, Microsoft and Lionhead can afford to take a risk with Fable Legends’ payment model. “We have a lot of runway to make this a success,” Eckelberry told Official XBox Magazine.
Money aside, Fable remains Lionhead’s biggest franchise, and one they’re determined to get absolutely right. Free-to-play or not, Fable Legends can’t afford to let fans down.
Facts about Fable Legends
Chests: Loot chests can be found and opened during matches. In them you’ll find armour, weapons, items, and potions.
Not a fair fight: Fable Legends allow four heroes to square off against a single villain. The villain has access to traps and minions with which to attack the player.
Albion Designer Fashion: Throughout matches heroes will learn new abilities and can be customised to create a unique look.
RPG Stereotypes: Heroes in Fable Legends are of the traditional RPG mould, with healers, damagers, and support.
So how is Fable Legends shaping up?
Fable has been a most intriguing series up to now. Where the vast majority of long running gaming franchises are very much true to genre, Fable is… different. It’s a narrative driven, decision making role playing game… something like that anyway. It’s a lot harder to put Fable in a nutshell than it is, say, Call of Duty or Final Fantasy. So what does Fable Legends bring to the series?
The action in Fable Legends keeps the same setting of Albion, a name derived from Great Britain (Albion was the first name given to Britain). Albion has changed, however. The industrial revolution that left the land as an ugly place full of factories in Fable III is nowhere to be seen. In Fable Legends Albion is a ye-old place of fantasy and magic, an idyllic English landscape.
The characters have changed too. In Fable Legends, the character development from early entries in the series has been dropped. This time around you’re given a set of pre-defined characters to choose from. The roles are familiar, however, with melee and assault classes, ranged combatants, tanks, and healers. So, Fable Legend’s characters are very familiar to RPG fans.
The characters we’ve seen so far are a motley bunch. Tripple, for instance, is a total meathead whose only interest is paying off his colossal debts. He and his fellow heroes all look dirty and grimy. Then there’s Evienne, who’s decided to keep the sword she was supposed to pass on to a true hero for herself. Obviously, at the time of writing this able Legends preview, we’re still in early days, so you can expect a vast catalogue of characters to be added to the list.
The characters are all powerful fighters, which is just as well given that Fable Legends’ gameplay now focuses on combat and action far more than story. You’ll be dodging with the left-bumper, while using the right trigger to unleash combos. Face buttons give access to special attacks, like a forceful thrust of Evienne’s sword. We found Evienne to be an extremely nimble fighter, and the controls allow you to easily start dispatching enemies with Evienne’s sword.
In the section we played for this Fable Legends preview, we spent our first ten minutes dispatching wave of Goblin-esque enemies. Then we find ourselves in a holding area hearing about how a farmer’s dealings with a woodland creature have gone awry. You can press A during these segments to have your character speak. What you say changes the way the character responds to you next time you meet them.
The other aspect of Fable Legend’s gameplay is a real time strategy mode. You’ll spend time waiting as your enemy sets up his units and traps. Setting up your team is similar to doing so in FIFA, but a deeper and more fun. You can use mines and minions to damage enemies. Directing your army is simple enough too. Each unit is set to a face button so all you have to do is press one button to select them.
As you get closer to the end of your fight the heroes will be given a final objective, like destroying a maypole, while the villains you’ve slain can respawn. When the fight ends you’ll earn XP and can level up your items, while the Villain can select new units.
It’s a bit of a surprise to see Lionhead taking Fable Legends in this RTS direction. But it’s so packed full of magic that we don’t think Fable fans will mind. Lionhead have paid enough honour to Fable’s heritage to satisfy fans, and at the same time have taken Fable Legends in a new direction. And so far it looks fantastic.