Among Microsoft's top-tier games on stage at the company's 2008 E3 press conference, which included Gears of War 2, Resident Evil 5, and Fallout 3, another sequel on the horizon is Fable 2. Lionhead Studios head Peter Molyneux took the stage during the press conference to give a brief demonstration of the game's open-ended style, one that looks to create a fantasy role-playing universe that is unique to each player who enters the world of Albion.
The game will take place 500 years after the first game and, as the demo opened, the camera moved into a dead land, full of leafless trees and snowy hills. The camera then focused on a tiny bird that took off into flight, eventually arriving in a bustling village before settling on the edge of a building's roof. From there, the bird decided to make a deposit, if you know what we mean, and that deposit fell down in dramatic slow-motion before landing on the head of a child standing underneath. As it turns out, that unfortunate tyke is you--or rather the young character you'll play as Fable 2 begins. Of course, your Fable 2 hero will look completely different from the one shown during the stage show; as Molyneux pointed out, your main character in Fable 2 will be unique to you, and will age throughout the game on his or her path to becoming a hero.
You'll also have your dog, which was shown briefly during the demo. Molyneux once again enthusiastically talked about your canine companion, but beyond a happy-looking pup walking around the main character, there wasn't much new to talk about. What was new was the idea of ambient orbs. These are purple orbs that float through the world as representations of your friends who also happen to be playing Fable 2 at the moment. At any given time, you can walk up to an orb and immediately invite that player into your version of Albion. The invitation and acceptance seemed to be instantaneous; no need to deal with the Xbox Live friends list or invites.
When playing with a co-op buddy, the open-ended nature of Fable 2 continues. As Molyneux put it, you're welcome to go hack-and-slash some buddies, or try some more quotidian pursuits, such as invite your friends over to your home. In the demo, Molyneux brought his friend over to his home and then introduced his wife and four-year-old son. Children will grow up over time in Fable 2, and you'll be able to interact with people in the alternate version of Albion thatyou're visiting. Co-op players will be able to drop in and out of Fable 2 at any point in the game.
Molyneux's presentation of Fable 2 was all too brief and still left us with more questions than answers. Then again, we did get one important answer from this demo: Molyneux said that Fable 2 will be released this October. We hope to learn more about this fascinating game during the week at E3, so stay tuned for all of our coverage.