The Future of Fable’s Fantasy

Tue, 10/16/2012 - 01:29 -- RLWaterman

There’s always something refreshing about a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously. If we want to lose ourselves in a realistic and complex fantasy world there’s always Skyrim, but sometimes it’s nice to turn the Xbox on to something a little more lighthearted. The Fable franchise has frequently managed to achieve this aim with an assortment of gameplay quirks, comedy costumes and entertaining elements introduced through slightly crazy NPCs. That’s not to say the Fable games are all crazy with no substance though, because these action role-playing titles have managed to put together a diverse and thriving fantasy world, along with plotlines that have kept us playing for many an hour.

One of the key elements that developer Lionhead Studios has incorporated into its Fable games is that of a developing world. When we were first introduced to the land of Albion back in October of 2004 there were parallels with what we might expect to have seen from a medieval England. It was a traditional fantasy environment, one where magic and religion dominated the society. As the series progressed however, so did the setting, with Fable II set a massive 500 years after its predecessor, with characters now considering the merits of science and more advanced weaponry. By the third Fable title we found ourselves well and truly ensconced in the Industrial Revolution.

It’s an interesting idea, and one that has kept fans of the initial Fable game coming back to Albion, even if they deemed the merits of the later titles somewhat less highly than the original. The key question to ask is where next? Or should we say when next? The latest spinoff game in the franchise, Fable: The Journey, is set another 50 years into the future from Fable III, so where will we find ourselves in Fable IV that’s slated for 2013? Will Lionhead Studios take us into the digital age where fantasy is a thing of a past? Or will they create more of an alternate reality where the residents of Albion will never invent a technology such as the Internet? With Fable IV and Fable V apparently in the pipeline, we’re bound to find ourselves thrust into a more modern world at some point, unless of course Lionhead choose to change their strategy of taking us through time in a linear fashion.

The Future of Fable's FantasyAll of the Fable titles that we’ve seen to date follow the typical role-playing blueprint, with you controlling a key character and indulging in a range of activities from interacting with NPC residents to fighting to leveling up in key areas of importance such as magic or even social skills. The games have tended to be more of an on-rails experience rather than open world, however with rumors flying around the globe suggesting that Fable IV could be one of the launch titles for the Xbox One, we wonder if the world might opened that little bit wider given the extra processing power that Lionhead Studios will have at their disposal.

Of course, if Fable: The Journey is anything to go by, the opposite might be true. This latest installment is the most on-rails Fable experience to date, mostly due to the fact that it is a complete Kinect game. Unlike the majority of Kinect titles to date, there’s no need to stand up to play Fable: The Journey. You can sit comfortably on your couch, just using your hands to move your horse along or fight your various battles rather than a classic controller. It’s undoubtedly the best complete game for Kinect to be launched on the Xbox 360 to date, but as with anything Kinect related there are some incredibly frustrating control issues.

Don’t panic if Kinect isn’t your cup of tea though as we’re told that Fable IV will be back to a more classic controller (whatever that will look like on the Xbox One). It’s likely that there will be some Kinect functionality, but it’s unlikely to dominate the gameplay as in The Journey.

Whether Fable IV will appear as a launch title for the Xbox One or as one last game for the previous console, it’ll still be interesting to see how Lionhead Studios cope with taking a fantasy title into a more futuristic world.

Article by - Rebecca Waterman
Insert Date: 10/15/2012

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I love Fable. I hope it's on the next xbox.

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