Fable Legends features up to four-player co-op, SmartGlass control
Fable Legends isn't an MMO, Lionhead studio head John Needham clarified during a presentation in Cologne today; the game will however feature up to four-player co-op with four pre-set character classes.
Xbox One players can expect to find traditional character types in the game, including the tank-like Hero of Strength heroine, the mage-like Hero of Will, the ranged shooter or Hero of Skill and a general damage dealer.
Villain characters can also be played in the game, it was announced. Fable villains will have Tower Defense-like control of the environment and are able to control the spawn points of enemies for the heroes to battle. Users can take on the villain role this via SmartGlass, it was confirmed.
In typical Fable form, the game includes the standard Brit-angled sense of humor and will include a number of recognizable areas across Albion, home to all of the Fable games. An early prototype of the game shown during the event offered a look at enemy types that include Red Caps, while Needham added that enemies will be based on folklore and fairy tales.
John Needham was recently announced as studio head of Lionhead earlier this year. During the presentation Needham emphasized his 13 years of experience in online gaming, which likely will play a large role in the development of Fable Legends.
super long article so some excerpts (check out full article!). there's also a great video that's at the article but not yet on youtube
Gamescom: Fable Legends is Fable, But With Friends
Fable Legends is an extraordinarily ambitious re-imagining of the series.
But there is a difference. The hero on-screen, a Prince Charming type who flourishes a rapier and wise-cracks in classic Fable style - is just one of four working together. The other three - a fabulously-attired magician, a female warrior with a shield that looks like it weighs as much as she does, a crossbow-wielding archer - are controlled by other players. And the enemies are controlled by another, fifth player: the villain. From a top-down perspective, the villain controls the heroes' quest, placing enemies, traps, ambushes and more in their path as they play. He's the classic dungeon master.
It's not quite the Fable MMO that's long been rumoured, then, but it's very ambitious. Fable Legends is set 400 years before the other Fable games, at a time when Albion's myths and folklore are still being forged, the point at which legends are reality. Heroes are common: these four on-screen aren't the only ones (and when the game comes out, they won't be the only ones you can play), and they compete and co-operate with each other to step out into the wilds and claim the monster-ridden lands whilst villagers cower away at home. It's not Fable 4, but it's most definitely Fable.
Fable has always given you the choice over whether to be the hero or the villain, but as game director David Eckelberry points out, that's never fundamentally changed the gameplay before. This time it absolutely does. The villain role is inspired by the Sauron-esque image of the villain atop some tower, looking down and directing minions on the battlefield. As the villain you control the quest for the players: where enemies will spawn, how aggressive they are, when the boss will come lumbering out of its lair, when to bring down an impassable portcullis or lay a trap to separate heroes from each other to thwart them.
Fable Legends is designed around five people playing at once, though should you wish to play alone the AI will take over the roles of your companions and the antagonist. That, though, is not the game that Lionhead has designed. The four heroes I saw all played very differently - Prince Charming was closest to classic Fable gameplay, with the camera hanging back above his shoulders, where the archer was viewed through an over-the-should, third-person-shooter perspective. The warrior woman, meanwhile, was the tank of the party, where the magician Winter is a support class whose freezing spell stops enemies in their tracks for one of the others to shatter. These are classic MMO roles, but the combat is far from the sterile experience that can sometimes define that genre. It looks accessible, fast-paced and very physical. Playing alone, you can switch between these party members at will.
Lionhead's aim with Fable Legends is to create the most beautiful online fantasy out there, and that looks well within the studio's reach with the help of Unreal Engine 4.
The idea of having a live dungeon master raises a lot of complex questions. This is much, much more complicated than Fable 3's rather tacked-on co-op mode, and Lionhead is going to have to work hard to build an infrastructure that can support five players like this. Matchmaking, especially, will be crucial, and is a big focus for the studio. Fable Legends makes use of the Xbox One's cloud capabilities, and thus it's not playable offline. It's also quest-based rather than open world: there's a hub city called Brightlodge, where you can occupy yourself with classic Fable busywork like smithing and pie-making and, presumably, trying to seduce random townspeople, and once you've selected a quest from the map (like in the first Fable) you're sent out into the world.
The presence of a human villain theoretically means that no quest is the same twice. Being the villain can be as easy or complicated as the player chooses; if you don't fancy placing every enemy and trap individually, there will be pre-built loadouts that you can play around with.
Because Fable Legends isn't an MMO, it's not limited in the same ways as an MMO. Lionhead hasn't had to build an enormous open world that can support hundreds of hours of exploration and play, meaning that Lionhead can lavish the same artistic attention to detail upon each individual environment. It still looks and feels just like Fable should, then, and if Lionhead can pair this hugely adventurous five-player gameplay with the at turns hilarious, affecting and rousing storytelling and characterisation of Fable games past, Fable Legends could be very special indeed.
I'm a huge Fable fan but this is leaving me kind of cold; I dunno why. I am looking forward to playing through the first game again when Fable Anniversary launches. Hopefully it will launch in DD form--I've been disappointed that Halo: CE Anniversary hasn't.
Mike Scott (XBL: MikeHellion, PSN: MarcHellion)
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