Following the closure of Lionhead Studios, former Fable art director John McCormack reveals that Fable 4 would have been 'darker and grittier' than its predecessors.
With Lionhead Studios shuttering its doors, the Fable franchise is in limbo. Microsoft has retained the rights to the IP following Lionhead's closure, but it's unclear what will be done with the series at this point. While we wait to see what's next for Fable, former Lionhead Studios art director John McCormack has revealed what shape Fable 4 would have taken if Microsoft gave the game the green light.
First off, Lionhead had the goal of making Fable 4 more similar to the first three games in the series, as opposed to the asymmetric multiplayer seen in Fable Legends. Fable 4 would have been powered by Unreal Engine 4, with players free to explore a massive, dense city that would have included flying machines and tram cars.
Fable 4 would have been "darker and grittier" than the previous games in the series, with "prostitutes and humor" to go along with the grim "R-rated" setting. This dark tone would be apparent with the game's characters, as players would have been able to interact with disturbing icons of British mythology, such as infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper, as well as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
McCormack left Lionhead Studios in 2012, after Microsoft rejected this pitch for Fable 4. According to McCormack, Lionhead was looking for a larger budget and a four year development cycle, in order to compete with bigger RPGs like Mass Effect and Skyrim. Ultimately, Microsoft turned down this ambitious vision for Fable 4, instead putting the studio to work on the free-to-play Fable Legends, which the company reportedly spent $75 million on before cancelling.
McCormack isn't the only one that has spoken out about Fable 4 since Lionhead has been shut down. Peter Molyneux, the creator of the Fable franchise, has also spoken briefly about the hypothetical game, saying that it would have an equivalent of the dog from Fable II, and that if he was asked to work on it, he'd "totally be up for it." Perhaps Microsoft will take him up on his offer, and reach out to Molyneux to work on Fable at a different studio.
Whatever happens with Fable, it is clear that Microsoft does plan on doing something with the franchise in the future. After all, reports indicate that Microsoft refuses to sell the Fable IP following Lionhead's closure, so maybe one day we will see Fable 4, even if it doesn't quite match up with Lionhead's original vision for the game.