E3 2010: Fable III Updated Impressions - Starting a Revolution?
Written Thursday, July 01, 2010 By Dan WebbView author's profile
"We started off this one by thinking we’re going to have this amazing baddie," said the always upbeat Peter Molyneux at this year’s E3. “We talked about a morphing tree. We talked about, you know, why don’t we have a sea god coming in and attacking Albion, but it all sounded a bit crap and rubbish, and you know, doing a bad guy for a bad guy’s sake.”
“Then we decided, hang on a second, is there something unique and original that we can do?” he pondered. “We realised if what we did was create this baddie who was the king of Albion, then he could be a really bad guy – and this guy is an ultimate bad guy doing terrible things in the land – if we could make you a rebel. You are going to start a revolution. You’re going to get people to follow you. You’re going to promise lots of things in that revolution... You’re going to storm the castle, you’re going to face him and you’re going to take him out,” the Lionhead maestro continued. That ladies and gentlemen is half of Fable III and on the face of it, it’s looking like a game of two diversely different halves.
The other half is about your role as king and whether you decide to follow through with the promises that you made to your followers on your road to power. Okay, admittedly, that sounds a little too open-ended, right? Fear not, as there is most definitely an end-game Molyneux tells us. There is a purpose to carry on after you rise through the ranks, because even Molyneux admits there has to be.
“There is an end to the story, for sure, there always has to be. When you’re king, you’re king and there is some drama there as well,” says Molyneux. “There is a real twist, the only thing I can say, be careful who you trust perhaps. Just because you’re king doesn’t mean you’re immune to everything. There’s a lot of drama,” which sounds like you could have your very own revolution on your hands.
Fable III by Molyneux’s own admission will have “probably the greatest cast that any computer game has ever had,” and it’s hard to disagree with him based on who has been announced so far: John Cleese, Sir Ben Kingsley, Stephen Fry, Zöe Wanamaker and the slightly less announced Jonathan Ross. That’s not all though, Molyneux does state to look out for “three other people that you will definitely know,” hinting that there are some more big name stars in the pipeline for the latest instalment.
A main part of the focus for Lionhead at this year’s E3 was to look at what they’ve done to further refine the experience. In addition to losing the HUD, the health bar, the expression wheel – which is now replaced by floating icons that you use to interact with people: shake hands, threaten, touch, farting in someone’s face, etc – Lionhead were keen to remove the clunky menu and inventory system. That’s not to say they’ve cut them out - far from it - it’s to say that they’ve opted for a “functional replacement” known as The Sanctuary.
By hitting start, players are instantly transferred into a hub-world of sorts known as The Sanctuary – a circular room with rooms leading off where you can change your clothes, your weapons, see your treasures and so on. Your friendly butler, Jesper, AKA John Cleese, will also take up residence here and offer you ever so insightful quips. Everything to do with your character can be changed here and although it’s a lot quicker to change clothes and what not, I can’t help but think that it’s not as functional as Molyneux would like us to think. It is a neat place to store your morphed gauntlets and weapons though and display them as one would in a museum of sorts. A museum dedicated entirely to you.
Molyneux as usual was non-committal on Kinect and its Fable III compatibility, but he never disappoints by just saying “no comment” and instead talks in riddles... amusing riddles. “The only thing I’d say is, I don’t want Kinect to be just some crazy mini-game,” he stated, “I think it should be a substantial amount of Fable, so it’s really addictive, as opposed to just doing a chicken-egg laying game.”
Substantial? But doesn’t that make it almost necessary for the experience? Apparently not.
“You don’t want to make it so that people that haven’t got Kinect can’t play the game and this is coming out on the PC as well, so obviously you have to remember that, but saying that, I love the word uniqueness and I love Kinect as a gaming device and there’s loads of ideas that we could play on.” Like I said, non-committal.
As well as streamlining the menus with The Sanctuary, they’ve attempted to do the same with the world in general, specifically the world map, which now allows you to manage your properties, your wives, etc, without actually travelling to their location. In essence, it’s a 3D micro-management map.
“This is what we call a living map,” said Molyneux, “In other words, you can see the two continents where you are and then you can drill down in detail. This is the place we were just in, the whole town is still alive, you can do house buying and house selling here, you can spy on your wives and see whether they’re having an affair.” Admittedly, it’s not only quite handy, but it looks pretty damn neat as well.
We may have touched upon the co-op with our X10 impressions, but Molyneux was on hand to big it up some more. He even called it “fully functional, amazing co-op,” but of course he would.
Looking to make amends for Fable II’s terrible co-op experience, Molyneux drives his point home.
“Their hero comes in and their dog comes in, the two dogs will meet,” he comments, “They can go off and do a job, you can go off and do questing. You can marry your co-op partner, you can have sex with your co-op partner and you can have children with your co-op partner.” Not into the whole commitment malarkey? Well Molyneux suggests a “business relationship.” Although, whether he means friends-with-benefits or in the prostitution sense wasn’t quite clear. Technically, it could be both.
Regardless of whether Kinect will really change Fable III at all though – I doubt it will, despite Molyneux saying it would be “significant” – based on what we know and we’ve seen to date, Fable III is shaping up very nicely indeed. It essentially looks more of the same, so if Fable II was up your alley, Fable III should be a home run. The interesting part for us is the second half of the game and unfortunately, we’ve not seen any of that to date. If ruling the kingdom can be half as interesting as Molyneux says it is, then we’re on to a winner.
Despite not really seeing anything groundbreaking in Los Angeles this past E3, we’re still more than excited for Lionhead’s latest adventure. The fact that we’re promised actual, fully-functioning co-op could be all the franchise needs and it really does sound like a hoot. I warn you now though. Ladies and gentlemen, lock up your wives, I’m sharpening my axe ready in anticipation. And no, that’s not a euphemism. Cue evil laugh. Exit stage right.
Fable III is coming your way this holiday season.