When Fable 2 came out it scored 90+% and won gold awards (including in our own 360Zine), and it deserved to, but now enough time has passed since playing the game through, I can see some of what was wrong in Fable 2 and what I hope will be focussed on in Fable 3.
Firstly, the story in Fable 2 was much stronger than the original Fable, so I’d hope Fable 3 continues this. Peter Molyneux has already said that there’s more DLC on the way for Fable 2, which will continue the Spite and Teresa storyline, but I don’t think DLC will finish The Spire. I suspect that it will return in Fable 3. So, while the story was better, that ending really irked some people. While, I think that narratively it made sense, it seemed to forget that in RPGs, when gamers have built up their skills and powers, they like a big battle at the end where they can throw it all against some big bad. Basically, we like to use them and feel powerful, and Fable 2 didn’t allow us that.
Secondly, Fable 2 lost some of the charm of Fable 1 and I want to see that back in Fable 3. It just didn’t engage enough, possibly because it was trying out so many new ideas. The idea of emotional engagement is fine, but the problem was only a complete idiot gamer would sacrifice their dog because it’s such an important gameplay mechanic, so the decision to be “good” or “evil” really wasn’t open to you, unless you’re happy to spoil DLC and further adventuring.
Thirdly, Fable 3 has got to sort out the control system. The one button attack might seem like a way to open up gameplay, but it basically destroyed magic use, which is one of the strongest and most fun aspects of Fable. You could, realistically, only have 1 selected spell at maximum rank, which meant it was pointless ranking up the other spells. In the original Fable, you could Time Stop, increase Physique and attack, or use a fire spell. In Fable 2, you could really only use Time Stop, or Time Stop level 4 and Fire spell level 5. Very effective, but monotonous and it left you feeling cheated. If I choose to rank up my magic, I want to be able to use them! All it would take is tweaking the control system so that you could use a trigger in addition to the spell button, so you can have multiple spells slotted at once, accessed via button, right trigger + button, etc. Fable 3 has to bring back the magic.
Lastly, the non-RPG elements. It’s clearly a big thing for Peter Molyneux and he hinted recently in an interview that any further Fables would try and expand the non-RPG elements. I thought that the relationships and the money systems were fun, but ultimately superficial. There was no real downside to cheating on your wife, or indeed seducing them off to be sacrificed (I did both to make sure). The money was easily earned, and by investing quickly in property, you could be a millionaire in days. As Peter is a master of simulations, he must have ideas on how to fix these problems in Fable 3. It could be that some of these ideas were added late in the game – indeed when I visited him only weeks before the game went gold, they were only just adding the gameplay mechanic that meant you earned gold while not in-game. One way to change it in Fable 3 would be to add economic simulation – basically, if you get rich, prices go up accordingly. The other way would be to add more things you might need to buy – in Fable 2, you just needed the best sword and best gun and that was pretty much it. Fable 3 should add armour, rather than just cosmetic clothes, so that you have more ability to improve your character and more to spend your money on.
There’s doubtless years (and maybe a new Xbox even) before we see Fable 3, but there are definitely areas for improvement in the world of Albion, don’t you agree?