Set hundreds of years before the events of the original “Fable,” Lionhead Studios’ upcoming “Fable Legends” combines co-operative multiplayer and storytelling in a fantasy world. A team of up to four players can take on hero roles drawn from classic RPG archetypes: protector, archer, rogue, and healer and more, each with looks and personalities that are uniquely “Fable.” Meanwhile, a fifth player takes on the role of the villain, setting up traps and generally doing his or her best to hinder the players’ progress.
Each of the four heroes has a complementary set of skills and abilities. The protector, for example, has a giant shield that can guard against splash damage, while the archer can knock enemies up into the air, giving players time to get to a safe distance. Cooperation is the name of the game, and to that end “Fable Legends” will offer full drop-in, drop-out functionality via Xbox Live. But don’t worry if your friends are all offline; AI will take over any open slots, whether hero or villain.
But “Fable Legends” really comes into its own when a human takes on the villain role, popping up gates at inopportune moments to trap the players in with dangerous baddies, or leaving mines in hard-to-see spots. A clever villain can win a match by ensuring players never get to achieve their goals and complete their quests.
Despite being set much earlier than the first “Fable,” graphics and art design are reminiscent of the original: colorful and vibrant, with plenty of touches from traditional medieval fantasy making an appearance. Goblin and gnoll-like creatures are common foes, hurling arrows and even explosives at the heroes. An early boss fight features a giant ogre that can unleash a “fart” weapon that can slow the players down and make them more vulnerable to further attacks — but he has a weak point at his back. Heroes will want to exploit such enemy weaknesses by working together to corral them and attack at fragile points for critical hits. All the while, players must keep a constant eye on whether an ally has been knocked out, as they rely on each other for revival.
“Fable Legends” looks to be a cross-genre adventure that will challenge players’ co-operative skills — and also leave plenty of room for those of us who’d prefer to be bad. You’ll get a chance to see for yourself when the multiplayer beta launches this fall.
Check out FableLegends.com for more details, including beta registration.