The momentum has once again turned in the favor of Lionhead Studios now that Fable Legends has been unveiled. But lest we forget, the game’s development began while the Xbox One was set to do online checks every 24 hours. Since then, Microsoft has reversed that requirement, leaving Fable Legends in an awkward position.
Containing online features that allow players to get into groups of four and take on a villain who is also controlled by a player. However, it does still have a single player mode for those adventurers who are not in the mood to party up. But with the Xbox One’s DRM policies no longer in effect, will Fable Legends need to be always online?
In an interview with OXM, the game’s director David Eckleberry has said quite bluntly, “I don’t know the answer to that.” It is not clear if this is a tactful dodge or if Eckleberry is being straight, but it is obvious that he is more personally leaning to one side:
“The fact that we want to do a lot of things, a lot of systems on a servers, characters on a server…If it’s online we can monitor you and make sure you don’t edit your character file, or do something nasty there.
“Because if you’re playing single player, all your accomplishments in the game are going to eventually matter if you’re playing against a villain player, or alongside other heroes…If you’ve somehow cheated your way to victory – so that’s a concern for us.”
So it seems we can assume that there is no answer to the question just yet, but seeing the game’s director support always online should be sign that prospective players should get their internet connections in order.
It’s worth mentioning at this point that the exact size, scope and multiplayer structure of Legends is still a bit of a mystery. Players may be able to experience the game on their own, but if multiplayer is an integral aspect, then keeping the system fair is more important than ever. Eckleberry’s reasoning seems rooted in efforts to ensure just that; by checking in on players, it means that the game will be a balanced affair, as players will only be as good as what they’ve earned in the game.
While that makes sense from the developer’s side, it’s also the kind of reasoning that turned off so many users from the Xbox One in its original form. It’s not hard to see why some players would view that kind of control as an indication of mistrust in a game’s audience. By hamstringing some players with unreliable internet, Fable Legends could run the risk of losing genuinely interested customers in an effort to weed out trolls or griefers.
While keeping a level playing field is always important for a game, especially for one with extensive online capabilities, punishing a whole audience to do so could certainly be problematic down the road. It will be interesting to see which way this case lands, and even more interesting to see if it’s adopted for Fable games in the future.
How do you feel about this view of the issue? As games become more and more infused with multiplayer, would you be more open to an always-on requirement if the developers made policing cheaters a top priority? Sound off in the comments.
Fable Legends is an Xbox One exclusive, currently without a release date. A beta will be playable in 2014.
Source: Official Xbox Magazine