Peter Molyneux, the creator of Fable, is famous for enthusiastically overhyping his games to the point that they cannot possibly live up to players' expectations. This is the man who made the simple addition of a dog in Fable II sound like an industry-changing revolution.
So imagine my surprise, when I meet Molyneux for a Fable III demo during E3 last week, and the first thing he says to me is: "Fable II's story was rubbish." He wasn't done. Before the end of our half-hour together, Molyneux had used that same word to trash the maps, menus, visuals, weapons and co-op in his last game as well.
Whether you agree or disagree – I work for a site that scored Fable II a 9 for "Awesome," after all – Peter Molyneux wants us to know that these things will be vastly improved for Fable III. Here are five of his examples…
Beyond the significant moral choices they made during the game, most players can't recall the plot of Fable II. When quizzed by Molyneux, I could describe only the broadest of details, and he wasn't insulted. He wasn't even surprised.
If you saw the E3 trailer for Fable III, you already know how this important issue is being addressed. Rather than go on a generic hero's quest, filled with generic fantasy moments, you will now live through two distinctive and dramatic narrative arcs. The first casts you as a people's revolutionary, attempting to overthrow a tyrant who happens to be your brother. After stepping in as ruler, you must then choose how to lead, and how to deal with the threat of a rival nation.
Albion is a bright and beautiful land… until you hit the start button. Then the entire screen is replaced by cluttered menus, leading to labyrinthine submenus, full of endless lists and pointless text descriptions. An accessible action-RPG suddenly transforms into a Microsoft Excel sheet.
In Fable III, the menus aren't menus at all, but a full 3D space called Sanctuary that you can wander at your leisure, taking as much time as needed to explore the map, browse your wardrobe, test out weapons and seek advice from your John Cleese-voiced butler. But if you're just looking for a quick health boost, stuff like potions can be mapped to the D-pad to save time.
Speaking of weapons, there sure were a bunch of them in Fable II. The franchise's fans, according to Molyneux, were clamoring for even more in Fable III. But quality was being sacrificed for quantity, and the various swords, guns, axes and crossbows were growing indistinguishable from one another.
In Fable III, your weapons will be completely unique to you, evolving the same way that your hero does. Enjoy killing innocents? Watch as your sword takes on a sinister curve. Finish off enemies with fancy flourishes? Notice how, as time passes, your gun's design becomes more and more ornate. Eventually, your weapons will be so special that the game will give them their own names, tied to your gamertag.