While the Fable series has always had its distractions and side-quests, it often felt that for a fantasy adventure there wasn’t much to stick around for in Albion once completing the main quest line. Fable games deliver a high-quality product, but they’ve never had the vastness of The Elder Scrolls or fantasy MMOs. With Fable Legends, the newly assembled team at Lionhead Studios are planning on changing that.
Lionhead Studios’ new boss John Needham assures fans that they are playing the “long game.” Needham is bringing his expertise from previous games like Star Trek: Online and City of Heroes to the Fable brand and creating a next-gen, online focused (if not entirely) installment of the franchise. And it could be the only update the franchise gets for a decade as Needham explains that Fable Legends will be trying to keep players in their world for the long-term.
Talking to GamesIndustry International, Needham explains how they plan to reshape the future of Fable on the Xbox One.
“This is the next big Fable game that is going to be out for five to ten years so it needs to be big, it needs to be interesting. There needs to be a lot of stuff to do, it needs to integrate all the cloud and Xbox One features so we keep our community alive and growing. So yeah, it’s big and ambitious, but it needs to be because it’s going to be around a long time.”
Of course, if this is to be the only Fable game for at least half a decade, many fans will wonder where that leaves Fable 4? Fable Legends director David Eckleberry, another online veteran and new face to the studio, explained that in regard to Fable 4, it wasn’t that they “don’t love Fable or that’s we’re not taking all these Fable concepts and design principles and putting it in this game, it’s that chronologically it’s not where we decided we wanted to go.” He goes on to explain that the team wants to take Lionhead’s principles of innovation from all of its previous games and apply it to the online space in Fable Legends.
Online gaming, especially where the fantasy genre is concerned, has a history of titles that have been supported for year upon year – just look at games such as EverQuest and World of Warcraft. There is little to no pedigree of online games in the console space however, that have been able to keep players in the world for years on end. It is certainly an ambitious goal, but not an impossible one for an online-focused next generation of gaming consoles. Microsoft would have you believe that it can take on an immense amount of data in the cloud, including graphical enhancements. With enough support, a constant influx of things to do and even graphical updates, Fable Legends could remain relevant for an extended period of time should it overcome the mediocre reception of the latest franchise installment, the Kinect-based Fable: The Journey.
Do you think Fable Legends has any hope of staying active online for at least 5 years? Are you excited about the new direction of the series, or would you have rather Lionhead put their efforts into Fable 4? Do you mind that Fable 4 probably won’t hit shelves for the foreseeable future?
Fable Legends is an Xbox One exclusive, currently without a release date. A beta will be playable in 2014.