Gamescom 2010: Fable III Hands-On Preview - Combat, Cleese & Combo Gauntlets
Written Tuesday, August 24, 2010 By Dan WebbView author's profile
In typical Microsoft fashion, the behemoth console creating publisher wanted to kick Gamescom off with a bang this year and at their “Play Day” - which incidentally is the worst name for a pre-Gamescom event, ever - all the big guns were out in force. Nestled in a corner with a queue as long as the Rhine was a handful of Fable III pods, with Lionhead on hand to walk us through a number of different Fable III scenarios they had on show. We opted to head towards the more-combat oriented mission called “Bowerstone Boat” and punch away the frustrations we’d built up from waiting in one of the world’s longest queues – that is a little bit of trademark Molyneux hyperbole for you.
Taking place about one third of the way through the story, Bowerstone Boat follows the protagonist and his new associate, Ben Pitt, as they look to escape from Logan’s evil grasp after being captured and locked up for all eternity – or something like that. The opening exchange between Pitt and the Royal Guard standing post at the gates of where the intrepid pair need to get to, was of typical Fable ilk, with more sarcasm and patronising exchanges than a night out with Jeremy Kyle.
The main objective of the Bowerstone Boat mission was as simple as Fable missions come these days; tasking the player with a straight up fight from point A to point B. That however was the point; to show off Fable III’s combat, which truth be told was very reminiscent of the 2008 version. Everything from the one button combat, using the A to roll and all that jazz has been lifted straight out of Fable II so it was seconds before we’d got back into the swing of things.
After putting an end to the Royal Guard on the gate’s insignificant life, we continued to battle through a handful of enemies that come out to assist. Making use of the usual magic spells - using both the directional targeting and traditional area-of-effect targeting - we made short work of them and the only thing that really separated it from the previous title was the inclusion of a few explosive barrels dotted around the poorly lit cobbled courtyard.
The real change in the combat demo revolved around the new spell system that allowed you to equip two different spell gauntlets and combine their powers together for a devastating attack, so for instance, combining a force push with the fire ball spell. According to the Lionhead rep on hand, these gauntlets are all mix and match and it should be possible to combine any two spells as you see fit.
We already touched upon “The Sanctuary” in our E3 preview - an in-game hub that replaces Fable II’s clunky menu system - but this time we were hands-on and got to check it out in a bit more detail. The Sanctuary plays home to your in-game butler, the legendary John Cleese, who will offer helpful hints and sharp witticisms along the way. Whilst in our hub, we got chance to check out the new clothing dyeing option which offered hundreds more different colours and combinations than the 2008 version did, as well as the new 3D map, which not only allowed you to manage your properties, but also allowed you to see the area’s available missions and so on.
At this point the topic of conversation flicked from the in-game hub to the game’s world morphing improvements, which according to the Lionhead dev on hand would be more noticeable this time around. Instead of just relying on key events to dictate the future of a town or area, the general economy and well-being of each area would this time be indicated by the general look of the area, whether it be poor and dilapidated, or rich and thriving.
Jumping back into the action, we fight our way next to the pier of Logan’s fortified territory, making use of our shotgun, force push/fire combo and a trusty mallet along the way. The combat here specifically seemed a lot darker and gorier than possibly anything we’ve ever seen in the Fable franchise before, with copious amounts of blood being spilled, especially within the game’s finishing moves. Incidentally, the effects of these are tied to your character alignment; evil essentially means more brutal; and good… well, we didn’t actually get to see a good alignment finishing move and can’t quite imagine how you can make killing someone seem like you’re doing a good deed.
After clearing the final area and jumping on the boat at the docks, the mission concludes as we manage to get away with Pitt and co. and escape the evil grasp of the relentless Logan.
While Molyneux has been reluctant to talk about the second half of the game – which according to him in tomorrow’s interview, they won’t be talking about at all - our Lionhead rep on hand heavily hinted that Stephen Fry’s Reaver would play a bigger part in the second half of the sequel. Aside from fulfilling and ignoring your promises though, what happens after you topple Logan is still very much a mystery. That being said, if we were a betting man, being on the other end of a revolution would seem the most logical bet. After all, Molyneux did tell us at E3 that there would very much be an end game, but whatever that is, we’ll have to wait till launch to find out.
Lionhead’s aim at Gamescom 2010 was to show the variety of their upcoming action-adventure title and they achieved that with relative ease. While we only went hands-on with the combat-orientated Bowerstone Boat mission, others got to sample the off-the-beaten path content and even the more horror-esque journeys through the woods at night. There isn’t really much more than meets the eye to Fable III, it’s your traditional franchise sequel where developers don’t change too much, fix the main complaints and offer much more content than the game it‘s trying to supersede. It’s hard to gauge the true potential of Fable III without an extensive hands-on with the title, but as expected, everything on first impressions is what you‘d expect from a Fable sequel. Nothing more. Nothing less. If you didn’t like Fable II, chances are you won’t be won over by Fable III. If like me though, you loved Fable II, then it could be the time to whip out the wallet and get that pre-order secured.
Fable III is out on October 26th in North America and October 29th in Europe.