It’s not just pirates which hold a special place in my heart: heroes do too, because I love the Fable series. The original title got me back into gaming after drifting away from it for several years as a teenager and the second game is one of my all-time favourites.
Although Fable III didn’t live up to expectations, it hasn’t stopped me from wishing for a fourth instalment since 2010. That explains why I was sorely disappointed when there was no news during Microsoft’s E3 presentation last year. The leak on Reddit the week before had left had left many fans excited about a possible big reveal but none was forthcoming, and now it looks like we’ll have to wait until the next E3 event in June to find out more about what’s going on with the franchise.
The silver lining is that this gives us plenty of time to figure out what we’d like to see in a Fable IV. This is something I’ve been thinking on since including the game in my list of those I’m looking forward to in 2020, and here are eight elements I’m crossing my fingers for.
Stick to the fantasy theme
The first theme that comes to mind when you think of Fable is fantasy. But with the Reddit leak announcing that Albion is gone thanks to an asteroid, and a Heroes Guild based on a different planet accessed via Demon Door as a result, could we see science-fiction elements added to the series? I really hope this isn’t the case. Fable is a game which makes you feel as though you’re being transported back to an epic age where the battles of Heroes had an impact far into the future, and a sci-fi twist could spoil that.
Huge moments in an open-world
Remember the first time you stumbled upon a Thunderjaw in Horizon Zero Dawn? Or when you rode out to meet the first stone giant in Shadow of the Colossus? It would be great if there were huge moments like this in Fable IV, and there are plenty of great modern open-world games that the developers could take inspiration from. I want to step into that first location after the opening cutscene and feel as if there’s a whole world out there for me to explore – just not necessarily on different planets.
Moral decisions that have consequences
One of my favourite things about the series is its morality system and the way it changes your appearance. But what if this was developed into something more organic? Your alignment could be determined through your actions rather than a series of choices that are simply good or evil. For example, if you find end up using stealth regularly and stealing items, you could become known as a thief; or if you buy all the property and set the rent to the minimal amount, the townsfolk could see you as caring. And rich.
Money for mini-game jobs
Speaking of being rich, bring back the mini-games! I’d rather not see them used to the same extent as they were in Fable III where it was necessary to earn a huge amount of gold if you wanted to save the kingdom completely, but it wouldn’t be Fable without being able to take on a position as a woodcutter, pie-maker or lute-player. I didn’t play any of the pub games unless it was strictly necessary for a quest so I’m not particularly bothered about those – just keep the jobs and let me be a bartender again.
A bigger role for the dog
The dog in Fable II was a star. He was the reason I went for the option I chose at the end and it should be a requirement that he’s brought back for all future Fable games. This good boy would help you in battle and direct you to buried treasure, as well as change appearance in line with your character’s morality; perhaps this could be expanded upon for a new release and he could be taught new tricks. There needs to be a way to protect your companion though – perhaps some doggy armour – because I hate it when animals get hurt in video games.
More time for Theresa
Theresa is one of my favourite characters both from the Fable series and gaming in general, because she’s so mysterious. Frequently referred to as ‘The Blind Seeress’, she has had prophetic powers since a young child and possesses extrasensory perception due to her exceptional Will abilities despite being unable to physically see. You’re never quite sure whether she’s on the side of good or evil: is she telling you all she knows or has she seen the future and is now trying to guide you down a certain path?
Plant the acorn that grows into an oak
Remember the acorn incident? Players were promised the ability to plant one at the start of the first Fable title and see it grow into an oak tree by the end. That didn’t happen however, and many people turned on Peter Molyneux as a result (although I maintain some adoration for him). It would be great to finally see this in Fable IV. Imagine being able to plant a seed and see it grow throughout the course of your gameplay; and what if the state of the plant affected what was going on in the world around your character? That would be awesome.
Keep the silliness
One of the best things about the Fable franchise is its humour and cast of colourful non-player characters (NPCs), frequently voiced by well-known stars. It manages to strike the perfect balance between absurd silliness and black humour. This will be hard for another developer to recreate but if they manage to channel that charm, it will help Fable IV stand out from the other RPGs from the market and make it something special. New players will be won over by its magic while established Chicken Chasers will be reminded why they love the series so much.
With the next E3 expo taking place in the summer and the latest Xbox console surely being out in time for Christmas, I’m hoping we’ll hear more news about Fable IV soon. In the meantime, I think I’ll return to the start of the series and be a Hero all over again.