GDC '08: Fable 2 Co-op First Look

We meet with Peter Molyneux before GDC and get a demo of Fable 2's previously unannounced co-op mode.

SAN FRANCISCO--Earlier this week, during a pre-GDC meeting with Peter Molyneux, we were treated to the latest of the ambitious game designer's presentations of Fable 2. At last year's Game Developers' Conference, we were introduced to the pet dog that will accompany you through your Fable 2 adventure, and four months later at E3 we had an opportunity to try out the game's one-button combat system for the first time. Molyneux had another ace up his sleeve for GDC 08: the unveiling of Fable 2's "dynamic" offline cooperative-play system.

If you've been following our previous coverage of Fable 2, you already know that the large world in which your story takes place will ultimately be shaped by your actions as one of its heroes. However, none of us knew until now that you'll be able to invite other players' heroes into your world where, at least in theory, they'll play alongside you as obedient henchmen. When asked, Molyneux didn't deny that online play will be supported in the finished game, but for the purposes of our demo both players were using a single console. The second player's character's information was retrieved using his Xbox Live gamertag, and we were told that at the end of the co-op session any experience and money earned by the henchman would be taken back to his version of the gameworld. Furthermore, before playing together, you'll have the option to determine what percentage of the experience points, gold, and renown earned will be awarded to each of you.

Fable 2's co-op mode is set up in a way that encourages you to play nice with friends. Nevertheless, this wouldn't be a Molyneux game if it didn't give you the freedom to be a complete jerk, and sure enough, it was only a matter of time before Microsoft Game Studios' Josh Atkins, a guest in Molyneux's Fable 2 world, set about ensuring that he'd never be invited back.

After the pair showed off some of the "flirt," "pose," and other emotes that your heroes can perform in an attempt to outdo and impress one another, Molyneux decided that they should pay a visit to his (female) character's family. As they approached the picturesque farm cottage, a small boy, perhaps 5 years old, ran out to greet them--clearly thrilled to see his adventuring mother, who had purportedly been away from home for around six in-game months. On the other hand, the husband was quick to express his displeasure at her being away for so long, and perhaps wasn't thrilled that Molyneux had returned with a good-looking henchman in tow. Less than a minute into the husband's rant, henchman Atkins pulled out a gun and shot him dead. In the moment, those watching the demo laughed out loud. Then Molyneux went on to explain the consequences of his colleague's actions.

Molyneux's husband, whom he (OK, she) had presumably spent some time fostering a relationship with before marrying and getting pregnant with, was dead--forever. The child, who along with his father was completely dependent on the income of the adventuring mother, would now end up alone at the family home for months at a time, and we're told that ultimately he'd end up in an orphanage. You could track him down there if you really wanted to, but it's unlikely he'd ever be the same carefree little kid again. Needless to say, the potential for "griefing" in Fable 2's co-op mode is massive, so you'll want to be careful whom you choose to share your world with.

As the pair continued to explore the beautiful countryside, Molyneux's dog was keeping a watchful eye out for enemies. It started growling as they approached what appeared to be an abandoned mine, and when they got close enough, a small button icon appeared on the screen, prompting one of them to press the left trigger for a better look at the entrance off to the side of the road. Sure enough, there were a couple of enemies lying in wait there, and though the ensuing battle didn't last long, it afforded us ample opportunity to see both the melee and ranged attack buttons being put to good use. The third combat button, which will be used to perform all magic, is still being kept under wraps for the moment. Experience is earned in combat by collecting the small glowing shards dropped by slain enemies, and in keeping with games that employ similar mechanics, the shards gravitate toward you so that you don't have to waste too much time picking them up.

On the other hand, money doesn't appear to be something that you'll earn much of as an adventurer, so you might want to give your finances some serious thought before settling down and starting a family. However, you can earn a salary for helping out other players as a henchman. Toward the end of our meeting, Molyneux even mentioned that his character had dabbled in real estate and that you'll have the option to work a regular job in what free time your adventuring allows you. He didn't want to go into much detail about the professions in Fable 2 just yet, but we're told that the positions needing to be filled in the gameworld include blacksmith, barman, and assassin.

Another way to earn money in Fable 2, or at least for Fable 2, will be gambling. The pub game of choice in Fable 2 is apparently a hybrid of roulette and craps known as Keystone. This game will be made available for download on Xbox Live Arcade a few weeks before the release of Fable 2, giving you an opportunity to earn your Fable 2 character a mountain of gold before his or her adventure even gets under way.

Before we bring this preview to as abrupt an end as Molyneux's handlers did our meeting, we simply have to tell you that Fable 2's visuals have improved a great deal since we last saw the game. The environments that we saw were nicely detailed, considering the scale of the world, and the colors were really vibrant. Animated shadows cast by tree foliage, windmills, and the like have added a great deal to the overall look, and details such as a rooster parading around the farmyard were noticeable but understated. Incidentally, the environment's colors all get very muted during fights, but at the same time the colors of combatants remain vibrant, which makes it easier to keep up with what's going on and--let's face it--just looks really cool. We should also point out that, at least during the tightly-scripted demo, the camera did a good job of keeping both co-op players in shot even when they moved a reasonable distance apart.

Fable 2 is currently scheduled for release later this year. We look forward to bringing you more information on the game as soon as it becomes available.

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Discussion

364 comments
bobsaget347
bobsaget347

Does anone know why the countdown says 3 days and some hors to go when it comes out tomorow????

sw_and_wet
sw_and_wet

The game just sounds pure awesome!!! I got many friends including me have already preordered the game! Seems like the coop play is only available to 2 players?? If anyone could tell me how many player maximum can join the coop and can we switch henchman?

AmazingMage
AmazingMage

PM said they should have it the first day, not that they WILL, big difference, remember hes big on breaking promises and a first day patch might still be shaky on live, that was the only problem, it worked, but not well enough for them to send the game out with it enabled.

d4rkp7inc3
d4rkp7inc3

DoMiNiC147 there gonna have the patch for the online co-op the first day

DoMiNiC147
DoMiNiC147

I don't care if it doesn't have online co-op in the first week this will give people time to check out the world.

Panxhaga
Panxhaga

the multiplayer is like guild wars, it can be a single player game, but you invite someone and then it's a multiplayer game- no online co op for first week is a let down

Raykuza
Raykuza

This is worth buying a 360 for. Too bad I don't have the money. That's okay, I'll have LittleBigPlanet soon enough. ;]

sillycatfish
sillycatfish

i really think the best part of this new fable is your end result, not what u strt out as, kinda like the last one maybe? :P

SmartGhost
SmartGhost

Ok Fable 2 gonna be sick but what I really want is to make my own character from scrach not play as already made character...but cant wait 26 more days

6reatNate
6reatNate

And this game is the reason, why Xbox 360's are better then those PS3's. This game is gonna be awsome

hassanfadil
hassanfadil

U know mikey4418 i think am getting Xbox 360 for fable 2

Burninat0r
Burninat0r

....F*** YEA! This game's awesum!

mikey4418
mikey4418

This game looks awesome! Im definitely getting it! I wouldnt bother waiting for it to come out on PC, just get an Xbox 360 - much better

Super_Saiyan999
Super_Saiyan999

I really cant wait for this, i completed the lost chapters and i always said to myself, this needs co-op to become the perfect game! (well not the perfect game but you know what i mean!)

bigelf72
bigelf72

Coming out on PC next year.

phoenix_style
phoenix_style

I think you only need xbox live silver to play the pub game, but I wonder if there is only that one game or are there other types of pub games like black jack or something.

Pieter101
Pieter101

Will the Online need Silver or Gold Xbox live? And The Pub arcane Game then?

TrapInNewYork
TrapInNewYork

Can't wait, I am going to freeze my self until this comes out.

Pieter101
Pieter101

Will This game Come on PC 2? as the other Fable games?

Vasot
Vasot

This will be probably one of the best RPGs for console And it will be XBOX360 Exclusive !!

Jericho66
Jericho66

In the words of WWE's Ron Simmons......DAMN!

mingfu
mingfu

this game will be awseome and the co-op is sick!!!!!!!!!!!!

FoxyVivica
FoxyVivica

I never played the original, but I heard nothing but good about it. The second looks very promising and I am definitely intrigued with the co-op and think that it is amazing how they have set it up:) Definitely on my list of games to buy:)

avarice789
avarice789

This is going to be F****ing awesome PaulDixon77 you will not be alone.we will go bankrupt together.

PaulDixon77
PaulDixon77

Wasn't a 100% sure i was going to get this even though i had ther first game for my xbox but after the new vids and listening to what Peter Molyneux had to say I'm well impressed another AAA title to add to the already long list, Bia: Hells Highway, Farcry 2, Halo Wars, Gow2, Fallout 3, Mirror's Edge and anything else that i may of forgot!!!!!! Going to need a second income or the credit card is going to take a hammering................ OMFG another bumper year. Xbox 360 rules.

ZeeAlien
ZeeAlien

after reading this really cant wait for this game to come out.

denim01
denim01

i hope the co op is online to not just have a friend over to play cause that would bit alot ??

Assassinspeed
Assassinspeed

Sorry gamers. Whatever retard who posted the pub games for August fixed it. I I v v

Assassinspeed
Assassinspeed

I don't get it, Molyneux said it would be released about a week after the pub games were released on Xbox Live right? Then why is it coming out in fall when the pub games are coming out in the summer?!

MydogJack
MydogJack

Makes me glad i preordered it! :)

Solid_c0bra
Solid_c0bra

lol on xbl im gna be such a douche and just kill of the wife/husband and kid of any one of my friends that invites me int their world

Moronk
Moronk

The co-op of this game looks great. it is cool that someone can just "Jump In" with a friend to help with quests, get EXP, or just wreak havoc. it is a type of multiplayer that many gamers have been waiting for, for a long time. you don't need a MMORPG to experience great multiplayer. and i appreciate Peter Molyneux and the Lionhead team for seeing this aspect of multiplayer gaming.

Gamezero224
Gamezero224

FART POWER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

CrimsonMilkman
CrimsonMilkman

I hope you are able to make your own character. Not a designated hero, like from Fable 1

elite396
elite396

Ive got all the fable games(theres barely any) and to tell the truth i want this to be the best it can be, take your time make it the best

BenevolentEnemy
BenevolentEnemy

Shock! This may well end up in me getting a 360, despite my Wii affiliations...

DoomZaW
DoomZaW

ESRB, Parents, Jack Thompson and Teachers, im getting Fable 2 AND YOU CAN'T STOP ME!!

diegoroots
diegoroots

wow there goes my life when this game comes out lol OMG I AM SUCH A FABLE FAN I WANT THIS GAME i would kill the guy under me for this game

game_buddy64
game_buddy64

this is one game i really want to play now i hope the 2 player's is for system link its going to suck if its just for xbox live but its still going to be fun and i cant w8 for it to come out!!!!!!!!!!!:D:p

The_ripster88
The_ripster88

this game sounds sick... hopefully it comes through with its promises unlike the last one... i want to own the castle of dark n light... nah i want to own the whole world!!! :)

Dhani-X
Dhani-X

Fable 2 is beginning to look like one of the best games ever made.

i_love_cats
i_love_cats

IN this game you make money by getting a job as said by the demo video. i hope that when they make these layouts for the jobs they put alot of detail and work into it. like if you were a farmer you would actually have to plant crops and then harvest them. for a black smith you actually have to work on your skills in sharpening hammering ect. if they do put alot of effort into these jobs then im sure tthere will be penty of things to do once the story is finished thus making an excellent game.......

kingxero
kingxero

aight ya cause i wouldnt play co op if it wasnt xbox live, but other than that this game looks awsome i cant wait for it

Dhani-X
Dhani-X

**** all of you I want Fable 2!!

i_love_cats
i_love_cats

he said in one of his early videos that a hero can get rid of the dog by simply shooting, it will probably let u leave it a house/ farm.