Fable 2 Updated Impressions - Characters and Environments

Designer Peter Molyneux guides us on yet another journey through the world of Fable 2, focusing on character and environmental customization.

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At a recent Microsoft press event, we caught another glimpse of Fable 2, the upcoming sequel to the 2004 Xbox action role-playing game. As it happens, our time with the game was spent--and guided--by none other than Lionhead designer Peter Molyneux. Unlike his last few presentations, this demo didn't have a particular theme to it, such as dogs or co-op gameplay. Instead, Molyneux went on about all sorts of features that players can expect to see when the game is released this autumn, including facial expressions, changing environments, and even a bit of bird poop.

The designer began by letting us know that Lionhead Studios has finally reached the point where the development team has stopped adding features to the game. Now, the team is focusing on fixing bugs and adding polish. This was evident in the game's visuals: Because we were seeing an early version of the game, the graphics seemed a bit choppy in certain spots, but those rough patches were overshadowed by hitch-free moments that led us to believe the game will wind up looking really good. The art style is very similar to that of the previous game, but now, cities and outdoor environments look far more detailed and vibrant.

Once Molyneux went over the basic details, the designer began the demo with the game's introductory sequence. In a tongue-in-cheek style, indicative of the game's somewhat humorous tone, this cinematic begins with a bird soaring over your home city of Bowerstone and ends with it perching on a ledge as it defecates right on your character. From here, we were introduced to the first of many companions who will guide you through the story: your sister. Through the game, you'll be accompanied by a series of companions who will travel with you through several chapters of the story. However, Molyneux was eager to suggest that you may not be required to pay even the slightest bit of attention to them as you play--it'll be completely up to you.

Soon after, Molyneux pointed out a key feature about Fable 2's interface: There's no longer any minimap to guide you around. This has been replaced by what's being referred to as a "breadcrumb trail," a glowing line on the ground that guides you to the next important scene. This trail brought us to a police officer who offered to give us a little work to help make his job easier. Because you and your sister begin the game as impoverished street urchins, you'll probably find this offer to be an intriguing one. The officer handed us five warrants for criminals being sought for arrest. From here, we had the option to find the fugitives and bring them back to the police for a little extra scratch or earn even more money by simply selling the warrants to the criminal fraternity, which essentially grants those thugs their freedom.

This was done to demonstrate what Molyneux is calling "dynamic regions." This little neighborhood in Bowerstone will be shaped by your choice in the situation. If you do the right thing by bringing the criminals in to justice, 10 or so game years down the line, this area will become a bustling haven for trade and shopping. If you side with the crooks, it will become a run-down ghetto filled with crime and vice. When players drop by your version of Bowerstone for a little co-op, Molyneux told us, they could wind up seeing an entirely different city from what they've shaped in their own stories.

After this, we got to see how Fable 2's character expressions have grown since the first game. In the original Fable, you could run around town displaying all sorts of friendly or vulgar gestures. These displays would then affect the opinion of each of the townspeople toward you. If you give them enough rude gestures, they'd start to say rude things any time you happened to visit their neighborhood later on in the story. This can still be done in Fable 2, but now you have the option of performing these little gestures during the story's cinematic cutscenes. If you happen to, say, fart during one of these interactive sequences, this will affect the outcome of the conversation. Exactly how much of an effect these moments will have isn't clear, but this is another example of the added level of "choice" that Molyneux is aiming for in the sequel.

Later on in our journey, we stumbled upon a roaming camp of gypsies gathered in the woods. Molyneux used this area to talk about some of the details that have been added to the game, which he freely admits 90 percent of all players will never see. In this little camp, you'll see people chatting, dancing, and building campfires. Interestingly, you'll also see little children using the power of their imaginations to act out the entirety of the original Fable's story. Molyneux described this as a form of "treasure hunting": Rather than go out looking for loot, players are also encouraged to go out looking for "little bits of life."

Finally, Molyneux finished things up by telling us about the game's simplified "one button combat" system. For starters, combat is actually controlled with one of three buttons. Swordsmen will use the X button, sharpshooters will use the Y button, and spellcasters will stick to the B button. Each combat upgrade is mapped to the same button, depending on the combat discipline that's being enhanced. So if you're a swordsman, you'll find yourself using a variety of techniques, such as environmental attacks, parries, charges, and counters using the X button. Once you've gotten really good at combat, you gain double experience points by linking your attacks together. Finally, the combat discipline you end up specializing in will affect your appearance just like your inclination toward good or evil.

As mentioned earlier, the timing that Molyneux used to target Fable 2's release was "autumn." This should come as good news for those worried it might not wind up being released until the very end of the year. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more coverage as autumn draws near.

Discussion

231 comments
AmazingMage
AmazingMage

it all depends on what you did as a fighter in fable 1, if you were a mage you aged faster, i always am and i looked like i was 500 years old halfway through the game, if you a swordsman then you stay younger and looking younger, and an archer....well i wouldnt know lol

shooter589
shooter589

its like maybe a a couple days cause in fable 1 i beat the game in a month and he was already 60

HoffmanSony
HoffmanSony

How long is a "game year" in real time??

Simianjohn
Simianjohn

Hmm it looks very interesting, but I really hope that it isn't haunted by a million gimics that you had hoped would affect something but really didn't have any real effect on the gameplay. But Liked the first really hoping the ideas from that and more will play better into the gameplay

Gamezero224
Gamezero224

SWEET! CHARACTERS WILL BE ALLOWED TO FART WHILE IN A CUTSCENE.

yankees222
yankees222

loved fable with a passion, cant wait to see what fable 2 will offer

Aven9186
Aven9186

I Love the PS3, but if this game is the complete opposite of the first one, I'll get my 360 out of the closet.

clone11
clone11

I've been waiting for this for.... Well... A very long time.... Sounds awesome. ;]

Rammone-X
Rammone-X

Finally, title coming out on a NEXT GEN system that has all these elements... (1) The main weapons are BLADES...FREAKING BLADES...NOT GUNS...If I have to play another first person, or action RPG with a P90 or an M4 - 16 custom or no custom again, I'll literally sell my PS3 and 360 systems and buy a PC... so I can play World of warcraft or some other title with SWORDS AND MAGICAL ELEMENTS, WHETHER IT BE SUMMONS, ELEMENTAL ATTRIBUTES, MASTERY OF CREATURES..WHATEVER (2) IT IS NOT LINEAR...There are numerous quests , guilds, shops, upgrades etc (Just like wonderful game "OBLIVION", we can still enjoy the game without playing the main quest, joining either the forces of good or evil (just like the real world YAY!!!!)...That is beautiful in itself. Character uniqueness and variability is also staple. Trust me unless you are in a clan or guild, though we won't admit it, NO ONE likes to see someone else wearing the same costume it took you an hour customizing ...NO ONE... (3) Finally and most important of all 'ONLINE MULTI PLAYABILITY" This is the key to making or breaking a title... Let me tell you the truth... FACT: I WOULD BE WILLING TO SPEND $240.00 OR MORE EVERY YEAR (ABOUT $20.00 PER MONTH) ON A GAME THAT HAS AN ADAPTATION OF WORLD OR WARCRAFT, BUT WITH A FABLE 2 FEEL TO IT... PLAIN AND SIMPLE...

acowcalled_jim
acowcalled_jim

Excellent. The first game was really original and I hope that this one will not dissappoint.

Fable_fan88
Fable_fan88

fable_fan here, and I say... it is going to be flippin' awesome... i am going to flick everyone in the whole world off when i get this game... hopefully there is some achievement for this...

Kaleb_B
Kaleb_B

Can't wait .. but must wait ...have to stay alive till then While the development is still running, just an idea for fun, maybe if they let us choose the dog's breed. I want a St. Bernard.

DeadlyOnez
DeadlyOnez

I hope they come out with more previews soon I want to see more!

jamesaphillips
jamesaphillips

AWSOME!!!!!!!!!!!!! this sounds awsome...i know i said it twice but there really is no ther word to describe it lol. there is so much comic potential with this game ... i.e. blowing up a freinds spouse with a shot in the head from your pistol during co-op (like in the co-op preview) for nothing more than s**ts and giggles >=D

mookaone
mookaone

come on, come on...ok ive got it. If i freeze myself for 3 months, you guys can unfreeze me and Fable 2 will be here! deal?

cheese_123
cheese_123

Fable 2 YAY, Fable 1 was very good but far too short, hope this is much longer, and you get a dog YAY even more

gamer1222
gamer1222

this game is going to be awsome

Kaleb_B
Kaleb_B

If they released it now, i have to put on hold any game that i'm currently playing. But take your time Mr Molyneux and put a lot more addictive features.

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

Simply cannot wait for this!! Molynuex is simply a genious.

jakster85
jakster85

I never played the first one. *embarrased* but the thing is, I know im going to PRE ORDER this one, this game looks incredible, there is so much hype about it. I cannot wait.

brad1087
brad1087

looks cool. The first one was ok, but it didn't run good on 360 so I had to quit playing it.

yoyags
yoyags

BY the way I liked the first one had it for regular XBOX but again regular hack and slash, bit boring but still mad fun

yoyags
yoyags

ok is this game open world like oblivion or is it like that last game with little running areas and loading zones(Which suck cause open world would be SICK for this game)

DeadlyOnez
DeadlyOnez

spider fable 1 is a classic..... I can't wait it look like you can be a full fledge demon by the looks of the cover. Nice

SpideR_CentS
SpideR_CentS

Fable 1 was great. Its was sooo close to being a classic game. It was just too short & too limited. I hope with the next gen hardware we will see PM's vision come to fruition in Fable 2. I will buy it day 1 no matter what.

SheepFaces
SheepFaces

this looks great! huge fan of fable1! what makes it extra special is the replay value won't become tiresome.. i have to admit i always end up beeing evil and sprouting devil horns.. this one will be no differernt>:)

game_buddy64
game_buddy64

i cant wait tell this game comes out i loved the first one i hope i can have a shotgun on that not just a pestol or a rifle thats cool that u can get a job i dont think i ever played a game where you can get a job theres one thing im not going to like and its playing 2 players its going to be fun but thats not it my friend is almays going to kill the ppl my marey lol whats fun is i can maybe kill him hehehehe and if i cant ill kil the guy he mareys!!!!!!!!!!!!! wah ha ha ha ha im EVIL!!!:)

TheoleDominion1
TheoleDominion1

I don't mind the hack'slash style if the combat system has alot of depth and strategy behind it ( a' la Assassin Creed, Ninja Gaiden..etc..). I just hope for a large variety of quest and creatures to encounter.

spike4590
spike4590

I loved fable i completed it over and over again that how much i liked it and i cant wait until fable 2 comes out it will be great I CANT WAIT MUCH LONGER!!!

otanikun
otanikun

I'm not too sure about the combat system, honestly I love a free control approach to it like hack n' slash sort of action. But this is looking pretty good.

BontraXenderKyl
BontraXenderKyl

@Pit_italy . I think you wrong because in Fable you don't need to jump and be 'free', Yes, I know Fable is little bit limited but it should be like that in contrast to Oblivion or The Witcher that you can go where ever you want. If a game is limited it doesn't mean that is crap

Rcbuggy
Rcbuggy

Is there a choice between male and female characters yet?

demosnipe1589
demosnipe1589

WOW, seriously can i get a Beta Test of the game? I want it sooo badly. I will not be able to wait for this if i keep thinking about it. so.... potential to be the best game ever is still present.

smithsmith07
smithsmith07

Fable was certainly not nearly close to the hype that was generated for it, but it still pushed role playing into a new genre with its humor and interesting world. It will be nice to see where they go with the series. Please elaborate on this so called "world" you created Molyneux, you really let us down with the hype but if you give us something sweet we might forgive you.

Anthrax88
Anthrax88

Fable 2 will probably be the best game ever

Pit_italy
Pit_italy

Fable was a piece of crap. Molyneux hyped the game as the best rpg ever made with unlimited free will. BULL CRAP! The entire "world" (lmao) was a collection of loading areas. Exploring them was like driving a train on the rails, it was not even possible to jump a 3 feet fence. The game itself was barely worth of being classified as a Role Playing Game. Molyneux completely lost of credibility to me after Fable.

DeadlyOnez
DeadlyOnez

You have to love Molyneux for being so passionate about gaming. He one of the few people that would create games for free I feel like. He pushes every console to they're limit and even thou we hate how he promises more then he can handle, He always provail. If you have a 360 this is a MUST HAVE. Thank you LIONHEAD and thank you PM.

ShipwreckX
ShipwreckX

That would be funny the big dramatic cut scene were the boss dies and you cut the cheese. I wonder what the out come of that will be.

quanloco
quanloco

I hope that the main quest of the game isn't as linear and at least 40 hrs not with side quests.

nickelarcade
nickelarcade

i hope that the quest is longer and maybe they should release addons every couple months. a new couple quests every couple month should make this game worth buying, i wonder how the good/evil mechanic will work in multiplayer.

denaz
denaz

Yeah this game is really shaping up to be something else!

GameMasterCraig
GameMasterCraig

It should be atleast 10x better than the first Fable. Hope theres cool downloadable content.

BigGhost_AJT
BigGhost_AJT

Fable was a good game on its own laurels. It was a little shallow and its story was derivative but a good game nonetheless. Its failing is realized when compared to the expectations that were set forth. So I'm not looking for them to revolutionize the genre only build on a solid game and improve the weaknesses.

loanstud2161
loanstud2161

I will believe it when I see it. Every game this guy has ever made has the same grandiose statements about how you will have unlimited options and endless game play. Then the game comes out (black and white, Fable) and never lives up to expectations. Don't get me wrong I liked both games, that being said none of his games have ever lived up to the hype. Definitely a rental

planetgloom
planetgloom

For everyone thats put off by the breadcrum trail you can turn off in the pause menu. :) This game is gonna be soooo sweet. Fable, Mass Effect, Halo, Bioshock and Gears. All my favourite games in one place! Jeez Im lucky!!

agirlyman
agirlyman

I too am waiting patiently for Fable 2, I am sure it will be a masterpiece with tons of replay value. AM I NOT MERCIFUL?!?!?!?!? tEE hEE

klasco
klasco

i seriously can't wait for this game

juliusIII
juliusIII

i think he meant elder scrolls dark, but oh well fable 2 sounds good..but i might reserve judgement till some more updates come out. besides, what if it comes out in the same time block as Force Unleashed? lil competition anyone?