|System: Xbox One|
|Dev: Lionhead Studios|
|Release: Q3 2014|
|Players: 1 (2+ Online)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
This year at E3, Microsoft invited us into a back room meeting to check out the latest installment of the Fable franchise, Fable Legends. While still a story driven RPG at heart, this new Fable has elements of multiplayer RTS and war gaming in it. Being the evil people that we are, we stepped right into the shoes of the villain, who gets to control all of the enemies that the heroes encounter. Here’s what it was like to be an all-consuming master of darkness.
Before every “map”, which I was told would be divided by quests in the full game, the player who is playing the villain gets to set up the dungeon as he sees fit. He gets to station all his units, traps, walls and more as he sees fit in order to try and take down the heroes before they get to their goal. Each unit or trap costs a certain number of “points”, a lot like a tabletop miniatures game. Gigantic boss units take more points, while grunts take less. If you want, you can fill a map with nothing but bosses, but you won’t have many to play with.
The villain’s goal is to slowly wear the heroes down. His units come in waves, each wave attacking a little bit deeper into the dungeon, and each one giving him more points to play around with. He can control four groups at once, each assigned to a different face button on the controller. Pressing that face button causes your units to “attack move” to that position, confronting anyone they come across. Pressing the right trigger causes your units to use their special ability. Pressing the right bumper lets you trigger traps like ceiling guillotines and mines. Finally, pressing the left trigger lets you single out units in order to move and micromanage them.
The villain’s units are weak, and so the only way he can prosper is by using them together. For example, the basic melee unit can take a few hits, and can also temporarily double their attack strength. The basic ranged unit is very fragile but can set smoke bombs. The artillery unit is incredibly weak but can do massive AOE damage. Finally, the stealth unit is fragile but has huge damage over time and can wreak havoc if it uses it’s cloaking to get into enemy lines. Frequently I would use smoke bomb to hide trap walls, which hold the heroes in place. Then as they chip away at the walls I would fire artillery at them to deal huge damage. I would also run my melee units right up to them while I would run my stealth units behind them. I also got to use the boss unit, the Ogre, to do massive AOE damage. Unfortunately, he is slow and cannot do much without the aid of other units.
Over the course of the game you get to see the health of each unit, as well as the total team health in the upper right hand corner. In order to revive teammates, you have to stand still, so this is a perfect time for an onslaught of fire or poison damage. It’s very much a tug of war as the heroes try to recuperate and you massacre them with a death of a thousand cuts.
The heroes and the villain will each have their own unique story modes. The heroes will follow a standard Fable story, as they band together in order to try and defeat the darkness surrounding the land. The villain, however, will also have a compelling story. He has a name, which Microsoft would not reveal to us, and he might not be as straightforward evil as you think.
As the villain triumphs over group after group of heroes, he will level up. Leveling up allows him to choose from a much larger variety of units. However, he is always governed by the number of points a map allows him to use. So there is no way for him to run away with the game just ‘cause he is higher level.
We also got to play the heroes but honestly, they just weren’t as interesting. They played just like every other Fable game in the past. You had melee, ranged and magic attacks keyed to each button, and you simply used these to cut your way through the villain’s forces. It’s fine if you are into that sort of thing, but it was the villain that was truly interesting, and in our opinion he is the reason you should buy the game. There is nothing more enjoyable than watching the heroes all run into a well place mine coupled with artillery fire and poison. Just watching their health bars drain due to their own bravado is a blast. Whether you are a Fable fan or a RTS fan, you will love the villain mode.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: June 10, 2014