Peter Molyneux’s charming Fable franchise celebrated its tenth anniversary last October. For a full decade, gamers have been exploring the history and heroes of the fantastical land of Albion. The franchise has definitely had its highs and lows over the years — the less said about Fable: The Journey, the better — but it’s finally ready to take its next step later this year with Fable: Legends.
Fable: Legends was first announced with a cinematic trailer back in August 2013, and it soon became clear it was going to be taking a different path than the earlier single-player installments. Fable Legends is a free-to-play cooperative multiplayer game that will pit four Hero characters against one player in the role of the Villain, and it’s been in a limited closed multiplayer beta since last October. With E3 2015 in full swing in Los Angeles, Microsoft and Lionhead have revealed that Fable Legends will be coming to PC and Xbox One later this year. Check out a new trailer for the game up top.
In Fable Legends, up to four gamers will chose from a stable of playable Heroes, including the swashbuckling Sterling; Winter, who wields ice magic; crossbow expert Rook; and Inga, a traditional tank in heavy armor and shield. So far, not too far outside the typical Fable experience. Where Legends veers off the traditional path, however, is with the Villain, as highlighted by this latest trailer.
Legends will take a similar approach to this year’s Evolve, which had four players squaring off against a fifth player in control of the massive alien monster the others are hunting. For Legends, the player in the role of the Villain have an experience closer to a traditional real-time strategy game than the action-RPG Fable fans are used to. The Villain controls all the threats arrayed against the heroes: they can set traps, control where and what type of enemies spawn, and decide when it’s the perfect moment to drop a boss fight on his opponents. It definitely seems reminiscent of the Overlord games, and that’s not a bad thing at all.
Storytelling has been at the heart of Fable from the start. The new E3 trailer up top does a good job of introducing the viewpoint of the Villain, irritated at all the obnoxious Heroes who keep sticking their noses into other peoples’ business and trying to take what isn’t theirs. Building up your own character through advancement and moral choices has always been a key part of Fable, so it will be interesting to see how that element is applied to the cooperative multiplayer structure of Legends, assuming it is at all. It would certainly be fun to see the Fable experience from the bad guy’s viewpoint, but it’s unclear how an evolving storyline would emerge from Legends‘ action RPG-meets-RTS gameplay.
Long-time fans of Fable may also have noticed that the footage from Legends looks considerably less steampunk-y that earlier installments, with no signs of the firearms that were a combat option in the later games. That’s because Legends is set hundreds of years before the original trilogy, in a time when magic is wilder and more widespread, and technology hasn’t yet gotten a foothold. There are still some settlements even in this older era, however. Players will be able to socialize and play mini-games in the hub city of Brightlodge in between venturing out into the world to seek glory and riches.
Assuming fans embrace Legends once it emerges from beta later this year, there will be plenty more to enjoy: Lionhead claims to have a 5-to-10-year lifespan in mind for the game. Even better, Legends will support cross-platform play between the PC and Xbox One, so fans will be able to link up with their friends on both sides of the technological divide.
Fable Legends will release for PC and Xbox One during the holiday season 2015.