Co-founder and lead writer of We Bleed Pixels. Loves fantasy, RPGs and talking about games. Hates horror, multiplayer and not talking about games.
Fable 4 recently appeared on Mixer, and with E3 just around the corner we may get an announcement. It’s been almost 9 years since Fable 3 released, the last full-fledged open world Fable RPG. There’s been the Kinect title Fable: The Journey and the cancelled multiplayer-focused Fable Legends, but there hasn’t been a proper Fable in years. What does Playground, who are reportedly developing Fable 4, have to do to make a worthy Fable 4? We’ve got some ideas.
Keep the (British) humor
“The time is now… very late!” British humor and wit (or perhaps humor in general) has been part of Fable since the first game, and is a defining characteristic for the series. Simple jokes like the one at the start of this paragraph. Descriptions for items and quests are often infused with little jokes. Fable 2’s ‘Love Hurts’ quest for example, which makes you dig up the various body parts of Lady grey for a creepy gravekeeper, so he can turn her back to life and make her fall in love with him using a love spell. Instead, you can just stay around long enough for her to fall in love with you. At which point the quest concludes with the following;
Or how about Fable 3’s sidequest ‘The Game’? What at first seems to be an epic quest where you have to save a princess, turns out to be a hilarious Dungeons & Dragons-inspired quest. Including the necessary arguing between the players as to how the game should develop. In fact, do yourself a favor and read through the quest’s trivia once you’ve finished this feature.
Lionhead didn’t stop at quest or item descriptions though. Achievement descriptions, once unlocked, also featured little jokes. Fable 3, for example, offered an achievement for getting married to another player on Xbox Live. Once done, it’s description changed to the following;
A time setting where the Heroes’ Guild thrived
For a franchise that revolves around Heroes, it’s curious that there’s been only one game where their Guild is strongly present. In both Fable 2 and 3, the Heroes’ Guild is portrayed as history, a relic of the past. While this might make sense lore-wise, it would be amazing to have a modern Fable game in an age where the Heroes’ Guild was at its prime.
It would be great to see a fully designed Heroes’ Guild in its prime, and it could serve as a hub of some sorts. Accept new quests, throw in a couple of special shopkeepers, some training grounds to practise abilities. Perhaps invite other Heroes over to your world, play some games at the Guild while having a drink?
Such a setting would also mean a time period long before Fable 3, before the industrialization set in. While Fable 3’s setting and design weren’t necessarily bad, magic and fantasy just fit the franchise so much more.
More different enemies
Bandits, Hobbes, Hollow Men, Balverines. These four enemies show up most of the time in the Fable games. Although to be fair, each title does offer a little more variation at times. Fable 2 features the occasional Troll, the Banshee in Wraithmarsh, and the Spire Guards/Soliders. Fable 3 introduced some new enemy types in the distant continent Aurora: Sand Furies, Shadows and Sentinels. Oh, and let’s not forget the Beetles, which inhabit woods, and occasionally farms or warehouses.
For the majority of the games however, you’re usually facing Bandits, Hobbes or Hollow Men. Fable 4 could use some extra enemies, to prevent a ‘been there, done that’ feeling. Facing the same enemies for the third game in a row would be a bit too much.
Better options for marriage
Since the first Fable, players have been able to get married. Generally, most generic NPCs were available for marriage, though each game also featured some more unique NPCs to marry. So in theory, there’s a lot of characters you could marry. In practise however, players usually went for the same one.
In Fable 2, the earlier mentioned Lady Grey was the most popular choice to marry. She has a unique name, and has a better voice and appearance than most NPCs. In terms of women, Lady Grey was essentially the go-to character to marry. And in terms of men… apparently Lionhead wasn’t feeling like designing any half-decent looking men. In Fable 3, players were already given a love interest at the start of the game, which most ended up marrying later in the game.
For Fable 4 it would be great if we got two things. One, design some ‘generic’ NPCs that actually look decent. Give us some more that are worth considering over whatever unique NPCs you’re throwing in there. It’s been so long since the last Fable, surely now we can get NPCs with nice designs. Secondly, let us change our spouse’s outfit should we desire to. There’s bound to be plenty of clothing in the game anyway.
For Fable 4, we have just one wish regarding kids compared to Fable 3. Bring back the rescue quest. In Fable 2, when the Hero had a child with his/her spouse, said child would eventually go to clear a cave of Hobbes, ‘’just like Daddy/Mummy’’. You would subsequently rush to said cave to save your child from the cave and return them safely to your spouse.
Fable 3 had no such quest. A shame, because I still remember the tension when I first rushed to the cave to rescue my child. How I spammed the attack-button to clear out the Hobbes ASAP. How glad I was when my kid was safe and sound outside, and when my spouse thanked me.
It would be amazing if Fable 4 featured such a quest again, or something similar. It would be cool to see something implemented that gives parenthood in the game some form of weight. Rather than just showing up at home every now and then with some gifts, and do some random interactions/expressions with your kids.
No insane online collectible achievement
Loyal mays may still remember Fable 2’s Hero Dolls, or Fable 3’s Legendary Weapons. In their respective games, they were collectibles tied to an achievement. Fable 2 made the player collect 6 Hero Dolls, of which just 2 could be found in your own game. Meaning you had no choice but to exchange Dolls with people over Xbox Live.
Fable 3 was even worse though. The game featured 50 Legendary Weapons, and you had to obtain all of them for an achievement. You could get only 26 of them in your own game, meaning you’d have to trade with other players. A lot. Unless you were lucky enough to find someone who had them all, and was willing to toss them over your way for a moment.
How do I put this delicately? It sucked. I was lucky enough I found someone who already had a completed collection in Fable 3. But for a game that’s meant to be played solo, it’s unnecessarily annoying and frustrating to have to do something like this. The Fable achievement lists are always a fun mix of story, gameplay-related quirks and solo-attainable collectibles. A couple of online achievements are fine, just not something crazy like the Dolls or Weapons.
Get former Fable devs on board
Lionhead, the developer behind the first 3 Fable games, shut down in 2016. Since rumors of Fable’s resurrection surfaced, some former devs have responded with mixed feelings. While glad that Microsoft is breathing new life into Fable, they wonder why they were not given the chance to develop a new one.
Solution: get some former devs on board. Playground reportedly is working on the new game, and they haven’t made anything but racing games; the entire Forza Horizon series. They’ll clearly need new talent to work on an RPG, so why not hire some devs who worked on the previous games? There’s clearly some interested, and they already know the franchise very well.