E3 2008: Fable II Show-Floor Demo Hands-On

We play through the E3 show floor demo of Fable II and score some co-op action in the process.

While roaming the E3 show floor earlier today, we noticed that a demo version of Fable II was playable on two of Microsoft's kiosks. We had an appointment to check out the game with Peter Molyneux tomorrow but we're as eager to play the game as you are, so ahead of what will likely be a more substantial Fable II story 24 hours from now, here's a rundown of what we saw:

The E3 demo version of Fable II appears to comprise six distinct demos: Childhood Male, Childhood Female, Combat Ranged, Combat Melee, Combat Will (that's magic), and Combat All-Rounder. We were invited to choose one, and after being told that the all-rounder character was the most powerful one available, we opted for that one.

Upon learning that our chosen demo would take place in an area known as Wraithmarsh, we were unsurprised to find our no-shirt-wearing tough guy wandering through a sinister-looking marshland on paths flanked by dead trees. It didn't take long for our canine companion to prove useful--he found and directed us to a treasure chest that we might conceivably have missed otherwise. Then he ran on ahead and started barking when he realized that there were enemies in the marsh ahead.

As we neared the enemies, the Lionhead representative who was talking us through the demo encouraged us to experiment with all of the different attacks at our disposal. Mixing up your attacks not only causes enemies to drop more orbs for you to collect, but on this occasion, it also afforded us an opportunity to switch among sword, shotgun, and spell attacks on the fly for the first time.

Each combat style is mapped to a different face button: X is melee, Y is ranged, and B is will. Tapping any button causes your character to ready the relevant weapon and then subsequent moves are performed by tapping or holding the same button, as well as pushing the analog stick in different directions. We were certainly able to mash our way through the first couple of encounters pretty mindlessly, but it seems unlikely that you'll be able to make it through the entire game without at least some semblance of skill and understanding of how the combat really works. For example, you'll need to learn to use your block move effectively if you're going toe-to-toe with enemies using melee attacks. When using magic, you have to master both area-effect spells and projectiles.

Magic appeared to be one of the more interesting combat disciplines as far as the E3 demo goes, if only because we were shown how you'll be able to customize your arsenal as you progress through the game. You'll have five spell slots available to you, and by dropping different spells into them, you can decide which ones are tied to which controls. Furthermore, all spells appear to have area-effect and projectile variants, so, for example, when you learn to control fire, you can hurl fireballs at enemies or create a ring of fire around yourself.

After fighting our way through the marshland and across a bridge that fans of Fable will recognize from early in that game, we were told that we were nearing the end of the demo. At that point, the Lionhead rep hopped into our game for some co-op play simply by hitting start on a second controller linked to the console that, presumably, already had his character information saved onto it. Our new companion's arrival into the world was instant, and while we were certainly glad for the company ahead of the final battle, we were a little disappointed that she didn't appear to have brought her dog with her.

With that said, we hadn't really been paying any attention to our own mutt while in combat, and when the co-op play started, we noticed that the camera's priorities changed. In single-player, the camera did a good job of keeping both our hero and his dog in shot at all times, but when the second player joined in, she effectively took the dog's place and our pet. While still in the game, she would often wander out of view for short periods of time.

Loitering around the Microsoft booth after finishing our play-through of the demo, we noticed that other E3 attendees appeared to be having quite different experiences, presumably because they hadn't opted for the "Combat All-Rounder" version that we had. One guy appeared to be playing through a level much like ours, but his hero was sporting long robes and a katana. Another was sedately exploring a picturesque village, contemplating house prices (Manure Manor is up for grabs it seems), swimming in the river, and even taking time out to pose for a sculptor in what appeared to some kind of rhythm-based minigame.

We look forward to (hopefully) bringing you more information about that stuff after our meeting with Peter Molyneux tomorrow.

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Discussion

115 comments
hollow56771
hollow56771

i just hope it wont be short like Fable 1

hollow56771
hollow56771

i just hope it wont be short like Fable 1

jak9500
jak9500

ha ha you should've just gotten a 360 when they came out

metalhead364
metalhead364

i have to wait till christmas to get both a 360 and fable 2......... but i cant wait!!!!! :-)

andrat99
andrat99

Yes Pre-ordered Fable 2 Limited Edition Can't wait For Pub Games

Richard7666
Richard7666

" it also afforded us an opportunity to switch among sword, shotgun, and spell attacks on the fly for the first time." Shotgun? Wtf...

rooshma
rooshma

@maximaxi4eva2, I actually think they may have improved the voice acting in this one. They have the loc actor for Sam Jackson in one of the European versions. They have also hired Stephen Fry for the NA version.

KandyKane666
KandyKane666

oh damm. looks like i have 2 buy a 360 now.lol. thanks sikatgames

GeigerdolylWodd
GeigerdolylWodd

The way I see it since we're going back to the same place we've been to before, Albion, and since this time around things have also changed alot for the better, sans longer game co-op over xboxlive and the world of Albion being more open than it was in the first Fable (you can hop fences and aren't forced to stay on the straight and narrow path like in Fable 1) and you can pick your gender, this game should be great!! I liked the first one, I rented it, and beat it once but sadly didn't feel compelled enough to play through it again. I new it had multiple "endings" and that the game essentially reacted to your choices and things changed based on how you played but I just couldn't bring myself to. This one should be different though but I think I'll still rent it.

sikatgames
sikatgames

unlucky kandykane, i dont think it will come out for pc, its exclusive for the 360, just get an xbox to get the proper 'experience'.

KandyKane666
KandyKane666

i want 2 no if fable 2 will eventually come out on pc, because i dont hav a 360

maximaxi4eva2
maximaxi4eva2

The original was a little too short and the voice acting really got on my nerves, and also the lack of multiplayer killed me. But i think they've fixed all that, (except for the voices). THIS GAME WILL BE GREAT

exhxguitarist
exhxguitarist

illusionist, are you retarted, of course you can join them if they can join you, its common knowledge

Macgyver40
Macgyver40

this is one game that i can not wait to play

Illusionist_84
Illusionist_84

great !! i was played the other ones and i loved it. and it was just perfect i can't wait for this one to come out .. but i was wondering since other players can join you can you go join them? if so that would be cool ... man i can't wait for this

Xeuton_Mojukai
Xeuton_Mojukai

To those who don't know: There will be both online and local multiplayer. If you have your best bud over for some gaming, you can have him play his old character from when he borrowed your 360 way back when, and help you out. If you have no friends on hand, you can do one of two things: 1. Go online to Xbox Live and find someone to do co-op with you. 2. Ask your dog if he wants to use his special controller and take over his erstwhile artificially-intelligent avatar. ~ XM

grambyte
grambyte

I don't know if "AWESOME" will be enough to express it?

ukillwegrill
ukillwegrill

I must admit. I found the original Fable almost perfect. The only problem was the length and maybe the combat, but that really wasn't apparent to me whilst i was playing it. Fable 2 will be amazing.

rbop
rbop

I know that it's sick, but I'm looking forward to this game more than any of the other big titles...

reckeweg
reckeweg

This description of the game actually has me interested now. Thanks Justin

chechak7
chechak7

great game but to ...tooo con flex

Shosta211
Shosta211

I really liked the first Fable and it seems like the little problems I had with it have been fixed along with the additions of tons of new great features. Can't wait for this one!

PunkerXBlaze
PunkerXBlaze

Your Dog: The Game. I almost thought he was gonna just go on about the dog again at first, thank god he didn't.

ParisSun
ParisSun

Fable was a good game. It was a bit too short for my taste. But I had a lot of fun with it. Peter had people believing they could totally check out of reality and that was not the case. So some people were upset. it was a good game, this one looks to be even better. I'll have fun with it.

stryke297
stryke297

Very sweet, very cool. Ups to Justin Calvert.

Insomniaa
Insomniaa

i belive it's only online and link perhaps

slasher18
slasher18

so can you do local(splitscreen or whatever they're calling it)? or is it only online?

jrabbit99
jrabbit99

fable 2 is going be great!!!

mrkalamazoo
mrkalamazoo

I'm sure I'll enjoy it, and there have been minor improvements, but it looks like it's essentially the same game.

snaker49
snaker49

cant wait for the awesomeness to arrive

singerr
singerr

i cant wait until the game comes and out an also play online whit friends

ciaxhieu
ciaxhieu

2 more months, not counting this one of course and ill be playing fable 2 phew

MeTALrockeR41
MeTALrockeR41

i agree with racho..overhype or not i will like this game unless it takes a step down from fable: the lost chapters which i doubt it has

UmbraFrame
UmbraFrame

You can swim now! this game just keeps getting better and better! Pre order for sure!

racho
racho

This game is actually making me want to get a xbox360. Can't wait till it comes out. overhype or not. it'll still enjoy it :)

bagman58
bagman58

Fable was overhyped and I loved it, he was trying hard to not overhype this one, and it sounds better, so hopefully I'll love it more

Icky27
Icky27

disapointment coming

xXHackettXx
xXHackettXx

This game looks great I hope Peter didn't overhype it though.

daviwinn
daviwinn

Yeah I'm gonna buy it :P Luckily he promises so much that even when only half of it pans out it is still a great game.

Slash_out
Slash_out

Daviwinn : True, but it's hard to do stuff completly new nowadays. And assistant poiting out treasures isn't new, one that points out ennemies like the dog does, I'm pretty sure it's new. The point isn't really what's new, it's just that in his games he puts stuff that isn't usually used, because it's just painfull to implement in a game, and does it really good ans easy to use for us. Now I do agree that he overhyped his own creation, well, basically it's just that he is a dreamer, a big fan of games, and he just like to talk lol. So I won't put it against him. He is not trying to cheat us. He is just too into his stuff.

masterclone
masterclone

Can't wait and i'm looking forward to see what gamespots meeting with Peter Molyenux brings. I preordered this game in March after i saw a video . If this game is half as good as the hype is promising it will be a great game

Agreb91
Agreb91

Fable II kinda looks the same as Fable, but it looks very impressive at the same time.

HollowZangetsu
HollowZangetsu

Daviwinn: where I agree that he might be over hyping a little....most of his games own all the others as lionhead studios is famous for its games. I mean fable itself was one of the most popular open ended rpg games ever and in my opinion paved the way for open ended rpgs...Also everyone knows fable 2 is going to be awesome with all the videos of it and the way you can join in at co-op anywhere in the game...just admit it...its amazing XD