E3 2014: Playing a Hero in Fable Legends Isn't as Fun as Playing the Villain

You underestimate the power of the dark side.

The Fable games have always let you be good or evil (or somewhere in between), and while your actions in those games affected your appearance, the world’s appearance, and how characters reacted to your presence, there was no great difference in how the game played when choosing one direction of the moral compass over another. You were still a hero on an adventure. You still did quests, fought hobbes, and farted on passersby. (What? Didn’t you do that too?)

Fable Legends takes a very different approach. If you choose to be villainous, you play this multiplayer-focused game from an overhead view, setting traps and setting evil beasts upon the goody two-shoes intruding on your beautiful evilness. If you prefer to be a goody two-shoes, you set off to rid the land of those same evil beasts. My colleague Mark Walton played as the villain earlier in the week, and he loved it. My time with Fable Legends was on the ground as a heroic mage called Winter, whose specialty was slowing foes by spraying ice on them. I wasn’t on my own, however. When you play as a hero, you are always accompanied by three others, whether they be actual players or AI-controlled characters. You can play Fable Legends as a single-player experience, but you’ll never be lonely.

Winter isn’t the only available hero, of course; the demo I played also allowed fellow players to join in as melee or ranged characters. As we prepared to play, developers from Lionhead were quick to point out that health does not regenerate in Fable Legends, and there were no healers on hand. Fable Legends is a war of attrition: the villain tries to separate heroes from each other using traps and other methods of map control, while heroes play their chosen roles with as much skill as possible. If the team of heroes falls before it defeats the final boss, the villain wins. And the world doesn’t need more successful villains as far as I’m concerned.

Alas, my fellow heroes and I were not successful in holding off this particular villain’s evil. The four of us moved through the forest corridors towards our mission goal, fighting off creatures as they appeared, navigating around gates that would halt us in our tracks, and unveiling invisible enemies that we happened upon. This is where my character, Winter, came in: by spraying the area with snow, I could uncover the invisible creature. I could also throw spikes of ice, though I could never tell if my projectiles were connecting with the enemy, and could also summon a great snowstorm to envelop the surrounding area, slowing and damaging approaching foes. I felt like my support abilities were valuable, but I didn’t find much joy in performing them. The game played fine, but the combat and locomotion in Fable games have never been very snappy. That's fine in a game in which combat is not the main focus. In Fable Legends, however, the lack of surrounding context made battles feel rather stale. I’m not sure that these mechanics can carry a combat-focused dungeon crawler like this.

That’s not to say that battles won’t have context, only that one part of one mission makes it hard to get a handle on what the game will ultimately be like. Lead content designer Ben Brooks told me that the team wants to make sure Fable Legends possesses the same charm that made the first two Fable games so delightful. Said Brooks, “One of the things we were looking at is where we set this in order to achieve that Fable tone. What I wanted to do from the narrative side is to recapture all the dark fairy-tale stuff from Fable 1. And to that extent we kind of moved away from the technology and industry stuff from Fable III, and set this actually in the Albion of the past.” At this time in Albion’s history, heroes were a lot more common, and so having several adventurers come together would not have been such an unusual thing. (I was reminded of the Star Wars universe, and how Jedi were once far more common than they were at the time of A New Hope.)

Brooks also told me that Fable Legends will feature more non-player character dialogue than Fable III did. You’ll still be able to interact with other characters and dance with them; and Fable II’s radial expression wheel will make a return, allowing you to express yourself as you see fit. There is a story tying the action together, but I get the sense that the narrative, the expression wheel, and the NPC interactions are window dressing. Fable Legends is primarily about combat, at least if you’re playing the role of a hero. Being villainous sounds a whole lot more interesting, but given that there will be one villain for every four heroes in this game, I’m hopeful that the dungeon crawling can be made more compelling than the demo I played would indicate.

Written By

GameSpot senior editor Kevin VanOrd has a cat named Ollie who refuses to play Rock Band because he always gets stuck pla

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Discussion

40 comments
spartan0040
spartan0040

Looking forward to playing the game....Hope Co-Op is better than Fable 2's. Anyword if the player can switch in combat to one of the other companion Hero's in combat like in Dragon Age?

TheGreatGhoul
TheGreatGhoul

Fable is probably one of the worst serie of games ever and if they want to create the best rpg game of all time like they say everytime time  and fail well, they will have to make a completly different game.

Its all about dancing and farting on the face of somebody using only one button.

This serie has been created for the retarded peoples.

Shame on you Peter Molyneux!

grove12345
grove12345

While i think there needs to be more (if any) online RPGs that focus on coop. Basically 4-8 players with strict roles who must work together. While this is a step towards that im not too pleased. Maybe Fable series isnt the best approach. Hopefully its fun and pans out well. 

semi74
semi74

Sooooo, basically they take a RPG game that was all about doing your own thing, making choices and creating the hero you wanted and boil it down to more or less only the least interesting and enjoyable part of that game, the combat.


Nice one MS :)

Navardo95
Navardo95

This is Fable:Borderlands ....Fable was supposed to be a pure single player experience...

dussan2
dussan2

Thanks Kevin, since half the game sucks, I wont' bother with this mess anymore.  Fable, you had such high expectations.  None of them were realized.

spacecadet25
spacecadet25

Neato.  Now can we buy up houses and businesses, charge rent, loot people, start families, etc?  No?  Then I pass, that was the only part of Fable that set it apart from all the other fantasy hack and slash games that do combat way better.

I loved that in Fable I was surprised that I suddenly became a bad guy, though I hadn't killed anyone.  My brother asked me "what were you doing then?"  I told him I was just buying up all the businesses and homes, then go in and loot them, then raise the rent on them.  I guess that translated into evilness, I thought I was just being a Republican... :)

spacecadet25
spacecadet25

If it's not fun to be a good guy then they didn't add enough fun stuff or capabilities for the good guys to do.

northArrow
northArrow

Why can't we create our own heroes?

Poncho_Hachacha
Poncho_Hachacha

Some interesting ideas on display for Fable Legends. Hopefully it turns out well even though I highly doubt I'll be buying this from what I've seen so far. For some odd reason, the Fable devs seem hellbent on reinventing the wheel at every chance they get for better or worse.

Ovirew
Ovirew

I think playing as the hero will still be fun.  I mean if you're a hero, then you are playing against another person, another person with a lot of challenging foils for you and your co-op team.

catsimboy
catsimboy

Wow sounds like a real winner /sarcasm. I'll bet that tons of people will queue up to be the villain and it will take way too long to find a match. On the flip side if you queue up to be a hero you'll probably be forced to take at least one AI along because so many people will want to be the villain. So what happens when the multiplayer community dries up? Will you even be able to play villain with all AI heroes or will that part of the game cease to function?

Kolo32
Kolo32

Playing Fable isn't as fun as stepping on Legos with your bare feet.

KimCheeWarriorX
KimCheeWarriorX

in other news, taking a dump relieves pressure from your bowels.

origkillmachine
origkillmachine

I think the game has promise. If the difficulty is high it could be a really fun team game.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

"multiplayer-focused game"

Groan.

Tech9
Tech9

There needs to be some legit RPG elements like different skills and skill trees per character.  Hopefully there will be more characters than what was shown now too.  


I'm actually really optimistic for this game that they are showing it in manageable pieces.  Plus we'll have a beta and hopefully they will listen to our feedback.  Worst-case, we'll get to play it before we buy it.  That's a win-win for me.

sladakrobot
sladakrobot

I love to play as a good one so i can mess up villians plans :-)

kingcrimson24
kingcrimson24

it all would sound really good if it didn't have " Fable " in the title . because this is not Fable . 

Zicoroen
Zicoroen

They should make a system just like Project Spark and let players build their own RPG game and campaign.

4love10
4love10

plz don't tell me this piece of crap gonna come to PC,plz don't

DragonessAthena
DragonessAthena

It never has been. Every Fable game I play, it's evil first. inFamous, evil. Every game with moral choices, evil.


I refuse to play Fable Legends since it's not a Fable game. You're not allowed to make your own character,you're not even allowed to make choices.

dark_trunks
dark_trunks

We know. We don't need you to tell us something we're fully aware of. And this can be applied to anything, whether you're playing a villain in a theatrical play or a game. This isn't something "new", and we certainly do not need to be reminded of it as though we're too stupid to realise it ourselves.

Runeweaver
Runeweaver

So they have created another boring game, but is fun if you like annoying people, woohoo, They really like to drive those nails into fables coffin.

Foppe
Foppe

It's more fun to mess it up for people?
You don't say!

Fatbeaverlol
Fatbeaverlol

@semi74 Why do you complain? athey are going to make a Fable 4 THIS isnt a normal Fable game! its like Metal gear rising something else. >.>

spartan0040
spartan0040

@northArrow I think there is a picture showing 3 of the Heroes and One Heroe that looks customized

spacecadet25
spacecadet25

@Thanatos2k  Now it will be indistinguishable from that new multiplayer "Assassins Crap" game...

reacher42
reacher42

@Tech9 they had another 2 characters at E3 on the show floor and they said they are working on another 2

sladakrobot
sladakrobot

@4love10 lol there are other 10,000 unbelieable crap games on pc's,so please dont act like pc's has only good games.

Zicoroen
Zicoroen

@Foppe That´s the same "Souls games" logic with invaders...

spacecadet25
spacecadet25

@sladakrobot @kingcrimson24  Nowadays anything with Mario in it is a Mario game, since there's like 10 times more Mario games where he golfs, plays tennis, teaches typing, etc, than actual Mario games.

spacecadet25
spacecadet25

@Zicoroen @Foppe  Not really.  Dark Souls would have to be fun in general for an invading player to actually ruin someone's fun, the game itself does an excellent job of ending fun all by itself.