E3 '07: Fable 2 Hands-On - One-Button Combat

Peter Molyneux's latest Fable 2 presentation details the game's combat system.

Earlier today, during a visit to the Microsoft-only Viceroy hotel in Santa Monica, we met with Lionhead Studios' Peter Molyneux to get an updated look at Fable 2, which is currently scheduled for release "definitely in 2008." Our last meeting with Molyneux focused on the unconditional love that you'll feel for your pet dog in the game, but on this occasion he chose to talk about Fable 2's one-button combat system--a presentation that we've been waiting for ever since the "This is NOT Fable 2" keynote at Leipzig last year.

After drawing attention to Fable 2's unfinished state by pointing out some visual quirks and flaws in the version that we were seeing, Molyneux kicked off his presentation proper with talk of his desire to make a landmark game, one feature of which will be a revolutionary combat system. His goals for Fable 2 include combat that's "so simple that anyone can play it" and that "makes you feel cool," both of which he hopes to achieve with just one button on the Xbox 360 controller button. The X button, in case you're wondering.

Click to enlarge!

The presentation took place in the sizeable city of Bowerstone, where we're told that every building (there are dozens, perhaps even hundreds of them) will have an interior that you can explore. We weren't interested in checking out furniture or stealing cutlery on this occasion, though, because bandits were attacking the city. Before engaging any of them in combat, Molyneux took the opportunity to show off another new feature that has been implemented in the game: the lookout key. Holding down the left trigger button lets you instantly take a look at whatever is the most interesting thing going on in your vicinity, as if seeing through the eyes of a lookout. On this occasion, the most interesting thing going on was a bandit killing a civilian on a nearby street, and while still using the lookout cam it became clear that said bad guy had spotted our hero and was headed in his direction.

In the finished game, combat will be controlled using three buttons: one for melee weapons, one for ranged weapons, and one for magic. For the purposes of the E3 demo there were no guns or magic attacks, though, so all combat was controlled with just one button. How does that work? It's a quite elegant system, actually, and not nearly as button-masher-friendly as you might think. Tapping the button does a melee attack, holding down the button blocks, and releasing the button after a block performs a special attack. How hard you push buttons and how long you hold them for will have an effect on the attacks that you perform, as will your weapon choice, and your proximity to other enemies or environmental objects.

Those factors also play a part in determining whether or not cinematic "battle flourishes" are triggered during combat. Flourishes take the form of quick camera close-ups, slow-motion sequences, and the like, which look good enough to make you feel even cooler than usual as you do battle with multiple enemies, but aren't so indulgent that they interfere with the battle or its pacing. Another noteworthy feature of the flourishes is that they're not limited to special moves, so while slow-motion roundhouse attacks are cool and all, you'll also have plenty of opportunities to bask in the glory of a headbutt, an elbow to the face, or an attack from behind that you block without even turning around.

Click to enlarge!

Given the combat system and the fact that your character in Fable 2 will be in a constant state of evolution, it doesn't seem unreasonable to assume that no two battles in the game will ever be quite the same. The handful of fights that we participated in played out quite differently to Molyneux's, for example, because while he appeared to favor pushing enemies up against walls and pillars that he could bash them into, we--admittedly more by luck than judgment--were skewering enemies from behind so that our blood-covered sword came out through their chest.

Based on our limited time with Fable 2's combat on this occasion, it certainly promises to be every bit as varied and as accessible as Molyneux wants it to be. It's worth noting that your pet dog will also have a role to play in combat as well, but Molyneux chose to leave his canine companion behind on this occasion.

Shortly before the end of today's presentation, Molyneux touched on another feature of Fable 2 with which he's seeking to innovate: death. When you "die" in Fable 2 you won't actually die, and you certainly won't have to return to a previous save or a checkpoint. Rather, you'll collapse on the ground, where enemies will continue to attack you. When you eventually get up you'll be scarred for life, and those scars will affect the way that some other characters treat you. You'll purportedly have the option to spend experience points on the Fable 2 equivalent of cosmetic surgery if your deformities become bothersome, by the way, but since scars are undeniably cool it seems like those points might be better spent on leveling up some skill or another.

We look forward to bringing you more information on Fable 2 as soon as it becomes available--most likely from the floor of next month's Leipzig Games Convention.

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233 comments
i_love_cats
i_love_cats

Thats a good idea about the death situation but it doesnt make enough sense at the moment. so u get nocked down and scarred and then??? and some enemy slashes your face with a sword which only knocks you out hmmm it will be interesting to see what happens

fadetoblack_666
fadetoblack_666

the original was awesome, not perfect, but still a bloody good game... im really looking forward to this...

chimairawr
chimairawr

The "lookout cam" seems similar to the use of Y in Gears of War to me. And this combat thing could go one of two ways. Either it could mean you have to be more subtle in the changes between how you press, or it could mean button mashing. I think we're all hoping for the former.

vito_128
vito_128

regarding people who dont have xboxes buthave a computer i hope that it will have another lost chapters bit

darthdominion
darthdominion

These features alone has me quite excited for this game. I have not played the original Fable before. But now that it's on the Xbox Live Marketplace as the "Xbox Originals". It's a serious contender as a must-have and pick-up.

Solid_Devil
Solid_Devil

I really hope this game will turn out to be everything they have promised it will be...i liked the first game so i really want this game as well.

zodiark1
zodiark1

Looks freakin awesome imdefinitely gonnaget this

LPH79
LPH79

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

magnetorex
magnetorex

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

michaelratliff
michaelratliff

The first was an amazing RP, still one of my favorites i have played. I think the combat system will be familiar to anyone who played assassin's creed. After finally having gotten the hang of combo kills, I'm ready to take on fable 2.

aronmauk
aronmauk

Glad i'm not the only one here absolutely drooling over this game. Really hope this one will be much longer than the first one. Twas unbelievably short.

SaneQ
SaneQ

Glad to see he's doing it the way he wanted to the second time around.

psaketh007
psaketh007

The combat sounds top notch, and if it is anything like the combat in assassin's then it will be one of the best combat ever. But i think that the guns will spoil the fun of a true rpg. why buy an rpg with guns rather than a fps? There will also be no bows in the game and that just pissed off half the would-be archers of the game. I think that the guns and bows be made options, so that you can choose your gameplay.

Destroyeron13
Destroyeron13

Yeah definitely sounds like awesome combat...aka button mashing and hoping for the best methinks.

ensk_a
ensk_a

I hope that there is ton's of equipment.thats it

aarlev
aarlev

I really enjoyed Fable (not as much as my girlfriend though :) ) So I'm looking forward to this game.The original was a bit linear and not nearly as deep or open as the Elder Scrolls games. It was still fun to play though and more accessible to the casual gamer.

Zanduar
Zanduar

Does not sound like a robust fighting system at all...

toberman_nt
toberman_nt

Dont worry that PH won't deliver on his promises this time. If you've noticed, everything he has told us so far was finished or in the final stages of completion and shown in a demo.

kahoony
kahoony

I Know that this game will without a doubt b one of the biggest next year, i can't help thinking that guns will ruin the aspect of swords and magic, hopefully some live features will also be included. Although i have that doubt, like jackyroberts, it's mine the first day out.

jackyroberts
jackyroberts

The first Fable was the most exciting game, that I have played since Elder Scrolls and I can't simply wait for this game to come out. It's mine the First day it sells

juggleJUGGLER
juggleJUGGLER

hes not good at promises but he does make good games

DoomZaW
DoomZaW

Looks nice, but this time Molyneux better be giving us what he promises, unlike Black & White 2

Zephyr8965
Zephyr8965

I'll admit, I enjoyed the first fable a lot....in fact I just got done beating it again a few minutes ago....but it really did fall short of the hype. The game I was imagining was something similar to the elder scrolls games but with a lot more story and flashyness to it. Instead I get a dnd-ified dumbed down version of KOTOR, which, quite frankly, falls extraordinarily short of what I thought it would be. Kinda the same problem with Black, to be honest. Decent game, I just couldn't enjoy it because every second of game play disappointed me even further as it fell completely short of the hype. But back on the subject at hand, I definately feel that Fable 2 has the potential to become something great. Now that Lionhead knows that the fable idea is going to bring in the big bucks, I think and hope that they'll give a lot more time and money into making sure that the second one comes through for the fans. Perhaps the first one only fell short because the company didn't have the confidence, but now that they've seen what fable's creators can do, I'm sure Peter Molyneux will have the tools to do the job right, and to blow us all away. Oh, and just in case anyone thinks of the above statements to be an indication of the contrary, I love DnD and KOTOR.

-Dragon_Hunter-
-Dragon_Hunter-

The first game was a dissapointment, to say the least. It ended up being pretty much a semi-linear hack n' slash (Though a good one at that, and linearity isn't necessary a bad thing) instead of the revolutionary game promised. However, i guess it's time to me to put some faith in Lionhead once again. One can hope that they've learned from their mistake (Sure, Fable was a success, and a good game, but they managed to piss off alot of fans), and will actually implement all that has been more or less promised up to now. However, with this combat system and the dog, i won't give a **** if the rest of the game is basically ****e. And if the rest of the game is as fine as those two features, it just might end up being the revolutionary game that the first one was supposed to be. You've gotten my hopes up Lionhead, and may you burn in gamer hell if you fail to deliver.

fred3324
fred3324

I think the death concept is very interesting make it painful enough for people to not want to die. I liked that he said mutilation, as scarring is nice but doesn't really effect the gameplay. If you get beaten up by a mob or by a boss and they eventually break your leg or arm (perhaps even cutting/ripping them off) then it becomes more interesting indeed. I can see myself limping back from a hard fight and spending some xp on my recovery or buying a nice hook or wooden leg or eye patch lol seeing as Fable 2 is set in a bit of a Pirates! setting they might as well include those. :) They could make different NPC's perform various horrible atrocities on your hero's body if they defeat you. Combat system sounds challenging enough especially if you consider the fact that the environment and positioning of you and the enemy NPC are taken into account. I think this will prevent fights from becoming repetitive and boring. Let's hope PM manages to get what he wants to see into Fable 2. I for one am looking forward to it.

celebnaur
celebnaur

Fable is one of my favorite gamees ever. This one reminds me of Pirates! I the only thing I would like to have happen is more character custumization in Fable 2. It sounds really good so far. I just hope this "Slow mode" battle to show cool moves doesn't actually slow the the game speed down and isn't laggy.

Shishio817
Shishio817

So awesome. Too bad it won't be out till 08', but I guess that means that they're putting more work into it. I do hope that they make the NPCs much more advanced than Fable 1, like with actual dialogue and stuff. The worlds also must be free roaming, no path barriers like the first one, and everyrthing has to be bigger.

stikemaster
stikemaster

jeez i hope fable doesnt become another oblivion cause itwill be much better.i hated how oblivion had he whole world evolve with u.imean seriously it shouldnt be hard for a masterof swordsmen to kill a bear.

asdeerdte
asdeerdte

what i hate about the game is that there are going to be guns ins it....thats sad =( i liked my bow in fable...i named it bowie we had good fun killing times

Djinnator
Djinnator

I'm going to get a 360 and start my collection with this game, it's my most wanted microsoft game.

vass86
vass86

i really enjoyed the first fable. despite it's flaws it was still a very fun game. however this one looks like it's going to become one of the best RPG's ever. It's the main game i bought an xbox 360 for

Seth1105
Seth1105

I Loved the first fable, and I loved being evil. But I hated that the bigger your horns got, the less hair you had. If any of the game creators are reading this, can you make it to where you don't lose all your hair when you're evil?

Dibiase007
Dibiase007

dude i am buying a 360 just for this game! then assassins creed and gta 4..

0megakill
0megakill

After watching that interview and seeing parts of that demo it does look quite promising, although if people can remember from fable 1, it was too easy. If I remember rightly, when you died you got right back up because you used some sort of health vial thing and that was that you could carry on fighting, and it seems its going to be the same in this one. It seems like its going to be the same as someone quick saving before a boss battle (as you do) and then quick loading if things dont go your way, and although its the players choice to not make it too easy on him/herself the temptation should be removed, after all if your going to quit smoking its better to take away the persons sigarates and lighter. I'd also like to point out how annoying peter is when he does that thing with his mouth, if you look at the other interview where he shows the dog in action he keeps sucking on his tounge while his mouth is open makes it sound like he's "tut"ing.

lonewolf1661
lonewolf1661

how's the death system going to affect boss battles? That would be wierd to die in the middle of one...

gevans1989
gevans1989

if i all ready didnt have a 360 i would bye one just for this game, it looks ace

gamestorm232
gamestorm232

Fable is one of the best games I've ever played I loved the fact that I could be either good or bad the only thing I didn't care about was all the flies on me when I was bad. And I wish I had much bigger horns like the devil. I can't wait to play the next one on the 360 just so I can be bad again. Ill just have to buy the xbox 360 though. Arsface remember that.

foritxxar
foritxxar

Game looks great to me. Can't wait. :D I loved Fable, and this is looking to be quite good, as well. I wonder how the one button system will work with magic... hmmm... CCyberDDemon wrote: "put this game huge like elder IV, terminate the bugs infestation on that game" Not everyone likes games as big as Oblivion, you know. If every RPG was like Oblivion, I'd lose all the enjoyment from one of my favorite genres. And the game isn't even near completion. Every game at this level is buggy. Of course they're going to get most of the bugs out... " make the world looks more like a adult world and less like a fairy tale" ...you're an idiot. " put more than 2 ridiculous endings on the game" This is Fable 2, not Fable. Peter already said there will be multiple endings. "fix any glitched ''consequences'' from ''actions'' like ''crushing a little rose on the floor''" ...again, you're an idiot.

alguLoD
alguLoD

Hmmmm... I was wondering something... If this one button system really works, and the hero does what seems best when you click the button... It might be possible to dual wield, either 2 melee weapons or 1 melee weapon and a small gun... Am i the only one who have thought of this?

CCyberDDemon
CCyberDDemon

hey.. wich game we can really DIE anyway? i dont care about this new system, that lead progammer moleyaeanusx have to deal with thousands of things in fable to make me buy this.. put this game huge like elder IV, terminate the bugs infestation on that game, stop with funny characters saying stupid things all the time on the city, put more than 2 musics on the game, make the world looks more like a adult world and less like a fairy tale, change that weird battle system of yours because we all come from oldschool gaming, we dont cry with complexes techniques on the joystick and finally, put more than 2 ridiculous endings on the game and fix any glitched ''consequences'' from ''actions'' like ''crushing a little rose on the floor''.

CCyberDDemon
CCyberDDemon

Argh,.,, he can say anything he want to say until 2008. ive heared that talking from him some time ago...ive played fable as well... and im not dumb enough to fall again on this joke.

tiffere128
tiffere128

Fable 1 was absolutely awesome an gave you hours of gameplay this game looks even better i can't wait until the release

gevans1989
gevans1989

fable kiked ass, and nuber two is lookin even better

HaaZ
HaaZ

Fable had some balance issues. You could spend an hour killing hundreds of town guards for experience, and have the bounty on your head dissappear after 15 minutes of gametime passed. Being a bad guy made the game too easy to manipulate. I hope they resolve the balance issues.

Myrkan
Myrkan

Spending experience to remove scars sounds great, but give us a hidden fountain of youth in Greatwood Forest, or maybe spending XP to reduce age as well and I'll be happy :D

biomimetic13
biomimetic13

The death system sounds great. I've been waiting for Fable 2 since the day I beat Fable: The Lost Chapters.