Fable Legends Preview: This ain't your daddy's Fable
The rigors of change can be frustrating and downright absurd, especially when you’re talking about video games. Franchises like Call of Duty and Battlefield get blasted on the daily for their lack of innovation, but when their developers decide to take a step in a different direction, it’s “abandoning the series’ roots.” No one can win.
Fable Legends appears to fall under that umbrella, because it’s clear this isn’t the Fable you played in 2004, 2008, and 2010. Lionhead Studios — under new direction — is trying something new. The idea of letting players be good or evil is still evident but now enveloped into co-op multiplayer. For some, that’s off-putting, but for me, I just want to know more.
I had the chance to play through a multiplayer match of Fable Legends’ take on villains versus heroes Tuesday on the E3 show floor. I was surprised to see such a drastic shift in direction from the series’ past, and I actually stepped away with more questions than answers.
The first thing I noticed was the preset classes in the game. One of the cornerstones of the Fable series has been customization — dressing up to give your character personality. That isn’t the case here, at least from what I saw. You’re one of four heroes with specific skills and attributes. You play a role, and that role doesn’t appear to vary much.
My character class was “Winter.” My role was to spray enemies with ice to freeze them so my teammates could come in and deliver the final blow. The concept is interesting and I couldn’t help but feel that it was executed well. Surprisingly, this is how I felt about my entire experience.
Teamwork is a must in Fable Legends. Numerous times our group of heroes got split up due to the villain’s strategically placed traps. You’re given only two minor health “packs” throughout the round, so you have to use them sparingly. As we pushed ahead, we quickly dwindled down our health to the point of one of our teammates yelling in the headset, “We’re screwed.”
Somehow we managed to push forward to the big boss battle, which lasted about three minutes. We prevailed. I smiled, I walked away, and I said to myself, “That was fun, but what exactly is it?”
If Fable Legends struggles with anything, it’s identity crisis. It’s a perfectly fine experience, but very few aspects about it make it Fable. I also couldn’t help but question the amount of content that can be put in this game right from the get go. As an RPG, Fable was able to stack a main story on top of side missions, activities, and exploration. As a multiplayer-centric experience that lacks customization, Fable Legends doesn’t yet have the legs to pull people in for hundreds of hours like its predecessors.
I’m not about to count Fable Legends out just yet. As I said, I enjoyed what I played. It just isn’t Fable. Thankfully, Lionhead has time on their side to put a heart into this game and show us just what this experience has to offer in the delightful world of Albion.