The Fable series has varied itself across several different styles over the years, including an RPG adventure, mobile and even a Kinect-only title. Fable Legends, Lionhead Studios' newest entry in the universe, is going with a more multiplayer focus and a new pay model that could, admittedly, rub some people the wrong way.
The game was initially announced at Gamescom 2013, and has made several more appearances since then, but one topic both Lionhead and Microsoft were holding off on was discussing how people would get access to the game. It's aiming to offer cross-platform play between Xbox One and PC, and be supported for several years, so surely many people expected to simply pay for the game outright and enjoy their latest quest through Albion. As it turns out, that won't be the case.
Fable Legends is going the free-to-play route, with a setup that resembles Killer Instinct's own offerings. As explained on the official Fable Legends site, Lionhead approached the free-to-play style with three specific commitments in mind: Open, Fair and Generous. What does this mean for player, exactly?
The Heroes and Their Customization
Upon release, Fable Legends will have four free hero characters to play as, who will be swapped out later for four new heroes; giving players the opportunity to play as every character for free, and eventually find their favorites. To unlock a particular hero for permanent use, players can spend Silver (in-game currency) or real money, but this option can be passed over, fortunately, as character progression will be saved and utilized when the character becomes free once more.
As for customization (a mainstay in any decent RPG) the world of Albion is packed with chests just waiting to be unlocked, while some chests can be open by once again spending silver or actual money. Now, past free-to-play games have often descended into making players feel as though they have to spend more in order to really enjoy the game, but Legends director David Eckelberry, speaking to Eurogamer, reassures that "pay-to-win" isn't among Lionhead's goals.
"There are free-to-play games like World of Tanks out there that are very much a pay-to-win kind of experience. For me the better ones for the customers are the ones where you get to enjoy all of the content without paying money. And then you pay if you want to."
"Our mission is for a fun experience on any platform. As a first-party studio our goal isn't to invoke anything vaguely like buyers remorse. I want my players to feel like, oh, I bought something cool. I don't regret that purchase. That's what matters to me."
Villains, Creatures and Traps
In Fable Legends, both the heroic path and the (probably more fun) path of villainy are available. Unlike the heroes, however, creatures are one of the aspects players will be in control of as part of the top-down, RTS gameplay. Particular baddies are native to certain quest areas too. That said, should the right amount of silver or gold be paid, any creature can be used anywhere.
Traps are yet another tool villains have at their disposal, and are almost required to really accomplish quests. Tools ranging from magical healing stones to explosive mines are just a couple of the many revealed so far, but expect many chances to spend silver or gold to unlock more.
"We want to make sure our approach to free to play gives everyone the freedom to enjoy the game to its full extent, and that’s exactly how we’ll continue to develop the game after launch."
To further clear up any confusion surrounding Fable Legends' free-to-play style, a handy FAQ was created, which addresses other matters like Xbox Live Gold requirements, future development on the game, and even the possibility of a boxed collector's edition.
Fable Legends is currently without a release date, but is in the midst of a closed beta.