Posted at August 1, 2020

My Ideal Fable 4

It’s been quite a while since my first Fable 4 post back in April. Since then, we got an official announcement but not much in the way of specific information. We don’t even know for sure what year it’s coming out.

Instead of wildly speculating based on deleted Reddit posts, here are five things I would like to see on Fable’s return.

A Semi-Open World

One of the few things we know for sure is that the next Fable will be open world. That’s precisely what you’d expect if Fable is meant to be Microsoft’s answer to Sony’s Horizon series.

But the phrase “open-world” doesn’t always mean the same thing to everyone saying it. Will Fable have a seamless open world like Skyrim, or will there be distinct sandbox zones similar to Dragon Age: Inquisition? Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages, but I think the latter fits Fable much better.

Fable was always good at feeling big without necessarily being big. Contrast that to Skyrim, where the population of a major city can fit into one school bus. The Fable games accomplished that by having multiple distinct locations spread over a large area. True open-world games often feel much smaller because of the way different environments are pressed together.

A Prequel

Based on the lack of numbering, it’s possible the next Fable will be a reboot rather than a sequel. Personally, I’m not fond of the idea of throwing away the established universe. Still, I wouldn’t necessarily want another sequel either.

Fable II was set 500 years after the original game. During that time, the Heroes Guild was destroyed, as were both of the main religions of that time. Those were pretty significant events in Albion’s land, but they all happened centuries before Fable II took place. I would love to see a Fable game set during the closing days of the Guild’s influence, or in the period immediately after its collapse.

This was a time when Albion’s Heroes were feared more than they were loved. A period of conflict ripe for exploration.

Swords, Guns, and Magic

There have been rumors for some time that firearms won’t be present in the next Fable game. That’s one thing I hope doesn’t get confirmed. Part of what made fable unique is how it’s one of the few fantasy series with distinct historical eras. Fantasy worlds often exist in what has been called medieval stasis, where every time period resembles 12th century England.

I also never liked the original game’s archery system. I feel like the guns introduced in Fable II were a better fit for Fable’s approach to combat. I think a lot of the pushback comes from the guns in Fable not being correctly balanced against magic and melee combat. This was particularly bad in Fable III, where firearms far outperformed other combat styles.

The best solution is to limit the selection to single-shot muskets and pistols, another reason that an earlier time period might be a good idea. 2019’s Greedfall was far from the perfect game, but I think it’s an excellent example of combining magic, guns, and swordplay into a single combat system.

More Weapon Variety

Just because I want guns doesn’t mean there can’t still be bows and crossbows. In fact, I think Fable could benefit from greater weapon variety overall. The original game had ten classes of melee weapons, but that had shrunk to seven in Fable II and only two by Fable III. Not only do I want the return of the original weapon types, but I’d also like to see a few more added to the pile.

Daggers have only ever been props in Fable, and shields got a similar treatment. And let’s not forget thrown weapons and polearms, which are only occasionally found in mainstream RPGs.

A Romance Subplot

Marriage has always been a component of Fable games, but they’ve never had love interests in the same way some other games do. I’m not saying they should remove the ability to marry random NPCs. That was an aspect of the series many people liked, and it’s an integral part of the Fable identity.

I’m just saying it might be a good idea to let players have romantic interactions with characters that are more central to the story. Do I want them to do the Bioware thing with complicated romantic storylines? No, but it would be nice if the developers did more to make potential spouses stand out. Making some or all of them characters with personalities and motivation would go a long way to doing that, in my opinion.

And it always bothered me that I couldn’t marry Whisper in the first game, so I kind of feel like Fable owes me one.

But I’m curious what everyone else thinks. Does my ideal Fable 4 sound anything like yours? Leave a comment below and tell me what you think.

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