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Fable III
Developer(s) Lionhead Studios
Publisher(s) Microsoft Game Studios
Designer(s) Peter Molyneux
Platform(s) Xbox 360
Release date(s) October 31st 2010
Genre(s) Action RPG, Sandbox
Mode(s) Single-player, Cooperative gameplay, Xbox Live
Media DVD-DL
Input methods Gamepad, Project Natal[1]

Fable III is the third game in the Fable series of action role-playing games developed by Lionhead Studios and published by Microsoft Game Studios and is a semi-direct sequel to Fable II. It is due for release on Xbox 360 in late 2010.[2]

Contents

Synopsis

Fable III is set 50-60 years after the events of Fable II. The continent of Albion, where the Fable series is set, is under the control of a tyrant king named Logan. The player's character is forced into a quest to become a revolutionary leader to defeat the king after an "injustice" happens to their parent, believed to be at the hands of the tyrant. Over the course of the first half of the game, the Hero will overthrow the tyrant and become ruler of Albion themselves. During the second half of the game, in which the player is reigning king or queen, a foreign nation will threaten Albion and the player has to decide how to react to it. Players will also have the chance to visit the new continent of Aurora.

Characters

At Game Developer Confrence 2010 it was announced that John Cleese would be playing the Butler[3]

Gameplay

Players can migrate their savegames from Fable II to Fable III. This allows the player's actions from Fable II to impact on the world of Fable III as their parent in the third game is their Hero from the second game. This was hinted at in the Fable II downloadable content See the Future.[2]

While the player is attempting to overthrow the current king of Albion, they need to gather support from the people. However, depending on the amount of control the tyrant exerts over a region, initial support can be hard to gather. To encourage citizens to join the revolution, the player must make promises to improve their lives when they have the throne. These promises can affect anything from a single individual's life to affecting the entire population or a class group within it. After the player has gained control of the crown, they have the opportunity to carry out or ignore the promises they made that allowed them to achieve their position.[2]

As Peter Molyneux, Lionhead's Creative Director, explains:

The really strange thing about leadership is that there's a common thread that has existed for centuries in all cultures. Whenever politicians, rebels or juntas are climbing to power they make promises, and very often these promises are not delivered on. We want to give a sense of that, so as you're building up your forces, as you're being a rebel, you will find this opportunity to promise things to get more power. Then after you've become leader, the opportunity to live on those promises has real consequences.

When queried over how the game would work after the player had assumed control of Albion, Molyneux was quick to deny that the game would become a Theme Park-style management game and that Lionhead would not be returning to its roots making strategy games.[2]

Molyneux explained a new mechanic called "judgements," started when the player grants their subjects an audience to hear their problems. Often these problems will be disputes with "muddied moral waters." If the player is impatient, they can make a quick decision to lock one party of the dispute in their dungeons, do nothing or reward one party with gold. If the player wants to become more informed, they can choose to journey to the scene of the crime itself and make a just (or purposefully unjust) decision on the matter. In addition to this, players have to make decisions about what promises they made in the early stages of the game they need to keep and give their full attention and what promises should be ignored. Molyneux's intention is to show that the great revolutionary heroes that have become mythologized aren't necessarily good rulers themselves. He asks, "If someone comes to you and begs for mercy, are you going to be the sort of tyrant who picks them up and throws them in the dungeon? Or are you going to be the sort who grabs them by the shoulders and gives them a big hug and shoves ten gold pieces in their hand?"[2]

There are rewards for being a self-serving ruler, including a treasury filled with gold piles that grow or diminish based on the player's wealth. The player's in-game family will attempt to pressure the player into selfishly taking money from Albion to maintain and upgrade their castle.[2]

The player is also tasked with dealing with how their society works on a day-to-day basis, such as how to handle crime, poverty and taxation. Another example is the choice to go to war. While Albion is only a single continent in a much-larger world, Fable III is the first game in the series to expand the playable areas beyond Albion's borders.[2]

Like the character-morphing that defines the series, where the player's character changes appearance based on his or her actions, growing beautiful or ugly based on good and evil actions respectively, Fable III expands that to location-morphing. If the player taxes a region heavily, the people will become visibly poorer, their buildings will start to fall into disrepair and the player will encounter hostility from them if he passes through the area. The example Lionhead gave was the town of Bowerstone: in the time since Fable II Albion has undergone the industrial revolution and Bowerstone has become "a mass of Victorian-era inspired churning industry," with the skyline being hugely affected by this. During the technological upheaval, however, crime, injustice and poverty have grown and the player can choose to eradicate it or let it continue unchecked. Regardless of their decisions, Bowerstone will change to reflect their choices.[2]

Molyneux has promised to remove a traditional RPG mechanic from Fable III, the emphasis being on removing "clunkiness" and making the game more accessible. The game also introduces two related systems known as "Expression Touch" and "Dynamic Touch." Expression Touch turns romantic relationships into a subtle journey that involves the player and their chosen partner becoming physically closer, rather than using the simplistic Expressions of the first two games. The system also applies to general interaction, such as embracing the player character's family or refusing to shake someone's hand. Dynamic Touch allows the player to lead someone by the hand to a location. Molyneux gave an example of a child trapped in a burning building. The player could go into the house and comfort the child with Expression Touch before using Dynamic Touch to carry the child to safety.[2]

Development

At the beginning of the Gamescon announcement of Fable III, Molyneux stated that the game was taking a different theme compared to the others as he believes the third game in a series to be hard to do correctly. "If all the rules have been established and all you offer is a new story and a handful of locations, people will start to lose interest."[2]

In an interview with OXM UK, he spoke about how Fable was at risk of becoming a generic game where the player started off underpowered and weak but slowly got more powerful after they met the bad guy. After the player killed the bad guy, the credits would roll. Believing that is the formula that applies to many games, he asked why games "end at potentially the most excited bit?" It was this that formed the basis of Fable III, where the player can overthrow the tyrant before becoming ruler themselves. He stated that it was when the player was ruler that the consequences of "who you are going to be, are you going to be good or evil, cruel or kind" stopped applying only to the player, but affected the entire country.[2]

Molyneux hinted that there may be drawbacks to leaving your castle too often to investigate crimes or fight wars, asking "Are you going to be a king that is the equivalent to Picard in Star Trek? Quite honestly, if the captain of the ship was going down to planets and getting involved in battles I'd be worried because I think he should stay in his chair. But if he chooses to go down and get involved, that's the freedom we give you as a king."[2]

Talking about the inspiration for Fable III, Molyneux said "if in Fable I the inspiration was folklore and in Fable II the inspiration was King Arthur and Robin Hood, then Fable III is definitely the rebels and monarchs – both modern-day and historic."[2]

What's so interesting about that is you look at it and you realise that "Gee, these people who ruled our land up until very recently were actually very creative with their power and abused it and used it in many evil ways." Take Henry VIII, let's just go through some of the things this guy did. Rather than say, "Hey, this marriage is not working out so well," he just decided to completely kill off his wives. Not only did he do that, but to do the deed he just got rid of religion and replaced it with a new one. He also took five percent of the entire tax income – the equivalent of billions of pounds in today's world – and spent on his personal wine cellar, while many people within the country were suffering from starvation and plague. This guy definitely wasn't that nice a guy, and if you write that down he sounds really evil. Does history paint him as being really evil? Not really, it paints him as being a bit of a jolly chap who was quite infatuated with six women. That's fascinating inspiration and we really want to give you the power to be that colourful when you're ruler.

There are also new takes on traditional Fable concepts such as morphing, where you and your weapon change depending on what you do and your alignment. If the Hero kills large amounts of skeletons their weapon will appear to be made of bones, whereas if they go around killing innocent people their weapon will begin to drip with blood. Another example is the "Extreme Emote" system. For example, if someone angers the Hero, they can show them their true nature, with either demonic or angelic wings sprouting out of their back.

Marketing

Shortly before Gamescom 2009, images of famous revolutionaries and quotations appeared on Lionhead's website, causing discussion about what the next game Lionhead were making was. During the press conference of Gamescom, where Fable III was announced by Peter Molyneux, Lionhead had decorated the walls with medieval shields and banners.[2]

Following the BAFTA games awards in March 2009, British presenter Jonathan Ross revealed on his Twitter page that he had been offered a voice part in Fable III. He also went on to say that comedian Charlie Brooker was to lend his voice to the game as well.[4]

References

  1. ^ McWhertor, Michael (2009-10-21). "Molyneux: Fable III Will Use Project Natal". Kotaku. http://kotaku.com/5387026/molyneux-fable-iii-will-use-project-natal. Retrieved 2009-10-29. "Molyneux: Do you really think ... knowing me ... I wouldn't want to use something like Natal? I mean that's just mad, man." 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Channell, Mike (2009-09-22). "Fable III". Official Xbox Magazine UK (Future Publishing) (52): 36–41. 
  3. ^ http://xbox360.ign.com/articles/107/1076735p1.html
  4. ^ "Fable III revealed by... Jonathan Ross". CVG. 2009-03-11. http://www.computerandvideogames.com/article.php?id=210295. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 

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