Chasing chickens: what I’d like from Fable IV

It isn’t just pirates who hold a special place in my heart.

The Monkey Island series may have left me with a thing for wannabe buccaneers and leather jackets, but Fable is also special to me. The original instalment managed to get me back into gaming after drifting away from it as a teenager and the second game is one of my favourites.

It’s been a while since I’ve thought about Fable IV though. After the Reddit leak back in June 2019, no news at all during Microsoft’s E3 presentation stream the following week and an official announcement trailer in July 2020, I got fed up of hoping. The spotlight was firmly on the Xbox Game Pass, Cyberpunk 2077 and the Xbox Game Pass. Oh, and did I mention the Xbox Game Pass?

The world premiere of the announcement was short and rather vague. While it looked stunning and had a familiar vibe, it didn’t offer any insight into what the story would be about this time or even give us a glimpse of the Hero. It’s final line about not all stories having happy endings and yours being yet to be written was intriguing – but I needed more than a minute of pretty graphics.

A random entry in my news feed over the weekend put Fable back on my radar however. The game has a new narrative lead: Anna Megill, the writer behind Control and Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, is taking the reins at Playground Games. Is it time to get excited yet? To be honest, I’m too old and tired to buy into the hype around releases nowadays – but that doesn’t stop me thinking about the great time I’ve had with the series so far and what I’d like to see from the next instalment.

I want to feel as though I’ve been transported back to an epic age of magic and mystery, where the battles of Heroes had far reaching consequences.

The same fantasy theme

The first theme that comes to mind when you think of Fable is fantasy. But with that old Reddit leak announcing that Albion is gone thanks to an asteroid and a Heroes Guild based on a different planet accessed via a Demon Door, could we see some science-fiction elements added? Call me a stick-in-the-mud, but I really hope this isn’t the case. I want to feel as though I’ve been transported back to an epic age of magic and mystery, where the battles of Heroes had far reaching consequences for all creatures.

Breath-taking moments

Remember the first time you stumbled upon a Thunderjaw in Horizon Zero Dawn, or rode out to meet a stone giant in Shadow of the Colossus? These are the kind of moments I want from Fable IV: those which stick with you long after you’ve finished the game. I want to step into the initial location after the opening cutscene and feel as though there’s a whole world for me to explore. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a massive place; just one which is detailed, filled with fairy-tale charm – and not on different planets.

Moral decisions with 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 which are simply good or evil. For example, if you 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.

More mini-game jobs

While I’m not a fan of mini-games and tend to avoid them wherever possible, I find those within this series relaxing. They don’t have to be used to the same extent as they were in Fable III where it was necessary to earn a huge amount of gold to save your kingdom completely. But would it really be Fable without being able to generate money as a woodcutter, pie-maker or lute-player? Scrap the pub games and don’t force me to play them for a quest – just keep the jobs and let me be a bartender again.

Fable IV, Fable 4, video game, trailer, countryside, tree, kingdom, castle, sky
Fable II. video game, screenshot, dog, Hero

A bigger role for the dog

The star of Fable II was the dog. He was the reason I took a particular action and he should be brought back for all future instalments. The 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 so he could be taught new tricks and occasionally take more of a lead. There needs to be a way to protect him though (perhaps some doggy armour?) because I hate it when animal companions 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. She’s so mysterious and it’s difficult to figure her out. Frequently referred to as ‘The Blind Seeress’, she has had prophetic powers since a young child and possesses extrasensory perception 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? I want to be given the chance to find out in Fable IV.

The acorn that grows into a tree

Remember the acorn incident? Players were promised the ability to plant one at the start of the first Fable game and then 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 admiration for the guy, and that could be a subject for another post). It would be great to finally see this in the next release. Imagine being able to plant a seed and see it grow, the state of the tree affecting what was going on in the world around you. That would be awesome

That same old silly humour

I love the franchise’s 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 properly but if they manage to channel that charm, it will help Fable IV stand out from the other RPGs on the market and turn it into something special. New players will be won over by its funny magic while established Chicken Chasers will be reminded why they love the series so much.

Hype has a way of coming back to bite you on the butt and leaving you disappointed.

While the update about Megill’s new narrative lead role can only be a good thing for the series, I’m not going to allow myself to get excited just yet. Even if you ignore the recent rumours about Playground Games’ lack of RPG experience and apparent downscaling of the project, hype has a way of coming back to bite you on the butt and leaving you disappointed. Sometimes it’s better to give your news feed just a cursory glance over the top of your controller before going back to whatever it was you were playing.

I’ll be there on day one when Fable IV released though. And until then, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the dog makes his rightful return.

About Author /

Spreadsheet lover, video gamer and SpecialEffect volunteer. Goes by the name 'kissingthepixel' online. Lifelong fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.

4 Comments

  • Frostilyte
    5 months ago Reply

    I don’t quite know why, but Fable is one of those games that entirely passed me by growing up. Maybe it’s a generational thing, maybe it’s an interest thing, or maybe it’s an “American” thing, but it was never as big over here as Microsoft’s other titles like Halo, Gears, or Forza, nor did it seem to get talked about in RPG circles the same way as WoW or Bethesda games. Still though, I hope that when (not if!) the next Fable title manifests it actually delivers on some of the aspects you’re hoping to see.

    Always wondered but never asked: have you tried branching out into other RPG franchises, or was the specific cocktail that Fable offered what really brought you in? Asking as I’ve found it effective to get my “fix” for classic series from new sources rather than waiting on the old guard.

    • Kim
      5 months ago Reply

      “Maybe it’s a generational thing.” Yes yes, we all know I’m old. 😆

      Could the reason for it not being bigger in America be its humour? It’s very ‘British’ if you get what I mean (think Monty Python and sarcasm) so I can see why it didn’t perhaps translate as well in other markets. The RPG elements are also more light-touch that a lot of other games in the genre so maybe it didn’t appeal to Xbox’s typical players at the time.

      I’ve tried a few other RPGs but none have met the same mark for me. I guess that could be due to nostalgia though. I’ve found them to be either too heavy on the stats or I can’t get to grips with the combat – and you know how bad I can be with controls if it’s not a point-and-click. Still, I’d happily take recommendations if anyone has them!

      • Frostilyte
        4 months ago Reply

        Wise. We use “Wide” around these parts. 😛

        I could see that. I’ve always gotten on with British humour, or otherwise super dry stuff but it certainly isn’t understood with any amount of ubiquity. I think in the early naughts there was a big push for online gaming here, so that’s probably at least partly a contributing factor to it. Couldn’t really say for sure though.

        Well…hmm. I kinda want to say give Divinity Original Sin 2 a thought. I don’t think it’ll be like for like though. However, you get high fantasy bullshit, a lot of quality writing, some British humour, and the overwhelming majority of the game is controlled with clicking the mouse. You can optionally use hotkeys for stuff, but almost everything is presented onscreen via a menu that you can just click through (including moving your character), which is how I played it. From what I understand, playing the game on easy also reduces the amount of stats stuff players need to focus on, though a lot of its stats and systems are already fairly streamlined so as to not be entirely unintelligible. This also makes the turn-based combat encounters a much smaller portion of the game overall (since I know you’re not huge on those). Plus, you can play it in co-op with Pete (and Phil and Ellen – pretty sure it support 4 player co-op). Dunno if that’s one that you folks have looked into already, but it might help to partially fill that Fable sized hole in your heart. Not saying to rush out and buy it, but let your brain turn that one over a couple times.

        • Kim
          4 months ago Reply

          Turn-based combat…

          I’m only joking. I’ve been playing a few card and board games recently so that’s been helping with not being so adverse to it. Plus, I’ve just checked out the trailer on Steam and I do like a nice isometric view. It definitely seems like a game worth trying in co-op. We dipped back into ESO last week as there was an event, but I’m going to suggest this one tonight.

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