A New Era in Albion
March 4, 2010 – Legendary designer Peter Molyneux has a reputation for saying too much about his games. During the promotion of titles like Black & White and the original Fable, he famously promised features and experiences that didn’t make it into the final games. Ever since then, Molyneux has been much more restrained, only discussing elements that are certain to make it into his games. So when Molyneux talks about what gamers can expect in Fable III, you can feel confident that this time his boasts will be true.
Set 50 years after the events of Fable II, Fable III puts you in the shoes of the child of the last game’s hero. If you have a Fable II save file, how you played that game will affect your Fable III game in some as-yet unspecified way. As in the previous Fable games, you will be able to choose a male or female character, and either way you’ll have the same destiny: to rule Albion as its new leader. But, no one will hand you the throne; you’ll have to earn it by deposing the tyrant who currently sits on the throne.
The quest to become the King or Queen of the land would be a large enough task for most games, but in Fable III, it’s only half the story. Eventually, you will reclaim your royal birthright and become the new leader of Albion, and then a whole new challenge begins. In true Fable fashion, you will have to decide how to best rule your people, and your decisions will affect the entire land. Should you choose to outlaw child labor, you might decimate the economy of an entire town. You might choose to start your own church, which could lead to religious tension amongst your citizens. Molyneux has stated that tasking players with the difficult choices of ruling the land was inspired by the election of President Obama. Like him, you’ll be an outsider who becomes a leader and has to deal with the consequences.
Your actions have the potential to affect the world on a grand scale, and Fable III is also reworking the way you interact with it in a more intimate way. One of the new mechanics that Molyneux has talked a lot about is the new “touch” system, which lets the player connect with other characters in the world. When you first meet a character, you might shake hands. As your bond grows stronger, handshakes may give way to hugs, and so on. You can lead your girlfriend or child through the street by the hand, and she will react to your actions. A child won’t want to be pulled into a tavern, while your girlfriend might go willingly. You can grab a bum and pull them towards a factory or try to lead a farmer towards a military post, and they will react accordingly. As with every decision you make in the Fable games, how you choose to touch those around you will affect how the game unfolds.
As in Fable II, you’ll once again have a faithful dog companion at your side to help you navigate the world with which you’ll also use the touch-based interaction system. Co-op gameplay is also returning with significant improvements. Unlike the last game, your co-op partner will be a full-fledged hero in his or her own right, complete with dog guide. Your co-op partner won’t be chained to your side, either. You’ll be free to split up and take on separate objectives at the same time. Also receiving a noticeable upgrade is the leveling system, which is now tied primarily to your weapon. As you use it, it will evolve in both its look and its powers, granting you new moves and skills. Who you kill with it will affect your alignment. The decision to tie your advancement to your to weapon is intended to keep the game as accessible as possible to a wide audience of gamers.
Because of Molyneux’s work on the Project Natal “Milo” demo and his interest in interaction with the game world, rumors have been flying that Fable III might use the new peripheral in some way. So far, nothing has been announced on the subject. It’s likely that the Fable III team has played with using Project Natal in the game, but isn’t talking until the decision has been made one way or the other. After all, Molyneux has been burned by talking about potential new features before, and it’s clear that Fable III already has enough exciting new features for the developer to boast about.