Yesterday, you might recall, we played through the E3 show-floor demo of Fable II. That was a lot of fun, but today we went one better and met with Peter Molyneux, who talked us through a handful of gameplay features that we hadn't seen previously.
The most memorable of these features was undoubtedly our first encounter with the bard character who, after you meet him in the game, will come and find you anytime you enter a major city. He'll follow you around, he'll talk at you incessantly, and he'll sing songs about your recent exploits--regardless of whether or not they're things that you're proud of. In short, he's annoying enough after a short time to test the patience of a saint. That's probably why Molyneux, who's known to favor playing as evil characters in his games, seized the first available opportunity to lure this guy under a bridge and kill him. Problem solved. If you choose to do something similar you'll never encounter the bard again.
On this occasion, though, Molyneux hadn't been quite as sneaky with his assassination as he thought, and a few minutes later the city of Bowerstone's alarm bell's started ringing and he was apprehended. At this point he was presented with three options: Pay a fine of 500 gold, resist arrest and get into a fight, or agree to community service. The latter won't involve repainting a school or repairing a broken-down playground, but it'll open up otherwise unavailable side quests that involve, for example, clearing a campsite of troublesome goblins.
With bard no longer a subject up for discussion, Molyneux moved on to talk about money in Fable II. Specifically, he talked about some of the ways that you will (and won't) be able to earn it, and at least one way that you can choose to spend it. As you may have already heard, you won't earn gold for completing quests in Fable II; you're a hero, so presumably you have motivations other than wealth. So, if you decide to rush through the story as quickly as possible you'll not only be ignoring much of the game's content, but you'll wind up penniless to boot.
Money can be earned in plenty of different ways, including playing the upcoming Xbox Live Arcade game
There will no doubt be plenty of opportunities to spend your hard-earned gold in Fable II, and we can confirm that one of those is a bookstore that specializes in training manuals. All of the books available here either grant you new abilities or enhance existing skills, and while we didn't get a good look at the list of titles for sale, we did notice that there was one about marriage and at least two that will let you teach your dog new tricks.
When asked about the nature of Fable II's achievements, Molyneux also alluded to another possible source of income; buying a property and renting it out. One of the achievements in the game will purportedly reward you for being an "evil landlord" and dramatically increasing the rent on property that you own while tenants are residing there. Another, completely unrelated achievement will increase your gamerscore if you have a penchant for kicking chickens.
Bothering poultry is unlikely to test your combat prowess, of course, but after taking the controls of a character that hadn't been leveled up at all during today's meeting we can report that the skills at your disposal when you start playing are limited to say the least. To paraphrase what we were told by Molyneux, you basically just have to "mash buttons" early on. By leveling up and spending points on improving certain aspects of your combat, though, you can really customize your character's fighting style and, as a result, you'll have to work some control subtleties into your repertoire. Even if you choose to specialize in just one fighting style you'll have plenty of freedom to customize your moves. For example, for a melee-oriented character you can spend points on upgrading several different areas, including flourishes, environmental kills, and combos.
Before our meeting came to a close we were invited to partake in a quick QA session along with other attendees. Very little of the information to come out of it was new, partly because the group got carried away talking about the concept of in-game protected sex and reusable condoms (apparently they're a rare item). We did learn that you can activate a "breadcrumb trail" at any time that will lead you back to your next story mission, though, and that in addition to quest givers there are lots of non-player characters who have icons indicating specific requirements over their heads. For example, a woman in Bowerstone with a heart over her head needs to be romanced before she'll hand over whatever reward she has to offer.
Fable II is currently scheduled for release in October and, in case you haven't guessed, we're just a little excited for it. We look forward to bringing you more information on the game in future.