Fable Legends Isn’t What I Want, But What The Franchise Needs

The Fable series holds a very special place in my heart. As a young kid I didn’t have many friends, which is why I played a lot of video games. I remember when I was in sixth grade, I heard a few kids talking about this new game that had just come out. The kids talked about how you can fight goblins and werewolves, join up with bandits or defeat them, and be a righteous hero or a terrible villain. After listening for a few minutes, they finally said the title of the game: Fable.

By the time they said what the game was, my interest was so strong that I couldn’t wait to go home and ask my dad for the game. On my birthday a few weeks later, my dad surprised me with the game, and my obsession and love for the Fable universe began.

I played that game so much. I was a hero in one playthrough, a villain in another, and going back in for between good and evil in others. I would spend hours going around looking for the silver keys, or trying to level up my strength so I could pull the sword out of the stone by the Temple of Avo. I played that game so much I knew where everything was, and I never once got bored. I got lost in Fable’s vast and beautiful world.

When Fable II was released in 2008, that became my new obsession. I mean, what’s not to love? More of the same world, more of the brilliant storytelling, and it even had a decent multiplayer component. Lionhead even brought back some of the exploring aspects from Fable over to Fable II, such as the silver keys. There were even these gargoyles that would shout insults at you as you walked by. Talk about immersive.

When Lionhead released the next installment of the series, Fable III, something wasn’t right. The storytelling was bland, the characters weren’t memorable, and they seemed to take good ideas from the sequel (like the dog) and just haphazardly shove it into the game. This wasn’t the Fable that I had loved before. They even tried to make the game more accessible by completely removing the inventory system of Fable II and replacing it with the Sanctuary– a secret place where you could try on outfits, weapons, and change the game settings. There was no start menu. Just the Sanctuary.

Despite the disappointments, I still had hope that a Fable IV would be announced as a way to console my broken heart. Peter Molyneux, creator of Fable, had a reputation for over-promising features of his upcoming games. I found that when he screwed up really bad, he would always try and fix it for the next game.

So, I waited for a Fable IV announcement.

And waited.

And waited.

Finally, Lionhead announced the next game in the Fable franchise: Fable: The Journey, a Kinect-only game. At the time, this news enraged me. Instead of fixing the design issues and progressing the storyline with Fable IV, Lionhead decided that the best idea would be to a kind of “sequel/spin off” game.

Yes, I do realize that The Journey did progress the Fable storyline, but it wasn’t the kind of game that fans like me wanted. We were hoping for a non-linear questing experience with the freedom to do whatever we wanted, when we wanted. Not some half on-rails Kinect game.

I picked up the game and braced for the worst. To my surprise, I actually ended up liking it. The Journey was simple, easy, gorgeous, and overall a blast to play. I loved how I could fling my hand forward at the TV, and my character would shoot a lightning bolt or a fireball. Through use of motion controls, Lionhead had a new way to immerse me into world– and it worked.

Fast-forward to E3 2013. Lionhead and Microsoft announce Fable Legends, an upcoming F2P MOBA for the Xbox One that takes place hundreds of years before the first Fable. Prior to this announcement, there was a leak regarding Microsoft E3 reveals, and one of them was a logo for Fable IV. You can understand my disappointment when Fable Legends was announced instead of the much hoped for Fable IV.

After much thought, and years of gaming in the Fable world, I started to understand why Lionhead hasn’t made a Fable IV yet. They’re afraid of trying to fix a broken system, and ending up only making it worse. Fable: The Journey and Fable Legends are Lionhead’s attempts to bring fresh life into an aging series.

I believe a change to the formula of Fable is desperately what this franchise needs at this point. One day, I’ll get my Fable IV. Maybe I won’t. Maybe it’ll be a Fable II Xbox One remake, or maybe an RTS game. Who knows? What I do know is that I’ll continue to have Fable games to play, both old and new, for many years to come.