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Fable 4 is happening, it’s story-focused, and everything else we know so far

(Image credit: Lionhead Studios)

Could 2020 be the year we finally, finally hear about Fable 4? Well, it could well be part of the upcoming Xbox Series X games line-up, which will be revealed a little more at an incoming July event. There's reason to hope at least, anyway. With the release of the Xbox Series X this 'Holiday 2020', we're at least hoping that Fable 4 will be a part of the console's future.

It is apparently in development at Playground Games, the studio that has brought you the glorious Forza Horizon series. We know that courtesy of a huge Fable 4 leak that emerged a while back, which revealed that a massive chunk of the gameplay, and core themes, may have changed, including that the game is likely set across multiple planets, and could even involve time travel. Madness. 

Interestingly, Xbox's Phil Spencer has an answer as to why we didn't see Fable 4 at E3. He says Xbox wants "to make sure that when we talk about things to come, whether it’s Fable or not, that the team feels very solid about what they are doing. I will harken back to … the Marvel MMO. Anybody remember us announcing a Marvel MMO? We didn’t even have a team that was signed that would do the Marvel MMO." Sounds like Microsoft learnt their lessons from that mistake, as Spencer goes on to talk about how his team decides when is the right time to officially confirm which games are on the horizon. 

"Running a studio organization and making sure we’re talking about games at the right time, when we know what we’re trying to build - I’m not making any comment specifically about Fable; it’s about anything in the portfolio ... that we have … some idea of when it would come out" is a priority, says Spencer. "The thing I love about our [E3 2019] show was 60 games and the first party games - I could tell you when those all were shipping, and I can play those games, most of them here, and can put my hands on them and make promises."

So, with that in mind, here's everything we know about Fable 4 so far...

Fable 4 E3 2019 leak hints that major changes on the way

Ok, time to run down what got included in the Fable 4 E3 2019 leak. Apparently Albion has been destroyed by an asteroid that got wished into existence by a Mad King who took control of the Tattered Spire, the Will-fuelled tower from Fable 2 that granted the person who controlled it one wish once it was built. So now it's down to you to use time travel to save it… we think. 

Theresa and the Guild are hiding away on another planet that you can access via a demon door, but if you want you can ignore the entirety of the main quest and never become a hero at all. Players can also build their own towns in the completely open world, which ties into the main quest (unsurprising for anyone who's played any Fable games), plus the character creator is majorly in depth. For those who were miffed about the guns in Fable 3 and 2, you can rest assured that there are zero guns in Fable 4. Oh yeah, and there's finally multiplayer! The whole thing is being made in Unreal Engine, so it should look pretty as heck. Now we just need to see it in action… 

Perhaps this leak should come as no surprise, as in January this year Eurogamer managed to get a scoop on the fact that Fable 4 actually exists but won't be being made by Lionhead. According to the report, which comes from ‘sources close to the project’, the next Fable is in the works by another UK-based developer, PlayGround Games. Earlier this year the studio, which has made its name by creating the Forza Horizon series, recruited more developers for its new second office in Leamington Spa, with the aim of creating a team of around 200 to work on Fable 4. 

Fans will be pleased to hear that the next Fable will follow the cues set out by previous games in the main series, with Fable 4 set to be another open-world action RPG focused on story and characters. 

The Fable 4 rumours don’t stop there though

Eurogamer's report was backed up by an Xbox Live API leak that emerged a little earlier this year, which suggested that a Fable game with the codename Wisdom is in the works, again by a UK developer. 

A former Lionhead Lead Engine Programmer, Don Williamson, also posted on Twitter that he knew a UK studio was working on Fable 4. He stated he thought the choice was “interesting”, but later deleted the tweet. WCCFTech managed to capture the tweet though, which read:

“Mmm ok, having no inside information, I totally know who's building Fable 4 now. Interesting choice…”

He later replied to another user who asked whether the studio was based in Brighton, another UK locale, but he said there wasn’t a studio capable of the task in that area. 

The Fable 4 release date is probably a long way away

Now it's looking increasingly likely that Fable 4 will get an official E3 2019 announcement. The Xbox is struggling a little with exclusives nowadays, beyond Sea of Thieves, Crackdown 3 and a handful of indie titles, so it would be a huge boon for gamers to know that something else is en route.

Will there ever be a Fable 4 PS4 release?

Now here’s something we’re definitely sure of. You’re never going to play Fable 4 on PS4. The IP is owned by Microsoft, and because of that you can put all your money on the fact it’ll be exclusive to Xbox One and PC when it does eventually arrive.

The original Fable creators have mixed feelings about a sequel

Seeing as the original team behind Fable is no more, it’s understandable that the folks behind the original series have some concerns about a sequel being made by an entirely new team. 

“I have slightly mixed feelings,” said Fable co-creator Simon Carter, in an interview with Eurogamer. “On the one hand, it’s great for the UK games industry, and very pleasing that Fable isn’t dead; indeed, it will be lovely to play one as a punter, without coming out in hives. On the other, it is a little curious to get rid of the team that is uniquely expert in making Fable, and then try and make Fable. Fable is a weird game, and a tough one to deconstruct for a new team. That said, the team in question is very talented, and I’m sure they’ll do a fantastic job.”

Microsoft has always believed in the Fable IP

In early 2017, long after Lionhead closed, Xbox boss Phil Spencer actually tweeted that he thought the Fable series still had potential. That was about the time that people started to speculate that there might be a little glimmer of hope for Fable 4. It wasn’t exactly evidence back then, but in light of the new information from the various reports, it certainly adds (a little more official) weight to all the Fable 4 rumours. 

What we want to see from Fable 4

Until we have an official reveal from Microsoft, we’ll just be here, waiting to see the chickens and the taverns, and making a Fable 4 wishlist of all the things we’d love to see. 

1. Make combat more epic, but also more personal

Although combat has been great fun in previous Fable games, the next entry in the series could do well to make things a little more grand, both on the large and small scale. Firstly, make some enemies have more emphasis; slow things down at times and make the build up to major fights feel more weighty. It’ll keep fights from feeling mundane over time, and ensure that your decisions really matter when it comes to the bigger characters. 

Of course, that could extend to the scale of battles too. Rather than making you juggle between a half dozen enemies at a time, why not make the occasional battle look like a deleted scene from Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones? It would play into the fantasy adventure thing a little more, and keep your play style on its toes.

And while they’re there, the development team could also add in a little more weapon variety. The emphasis has always been on swords and bows, but melee could do with some attention in Fable 4. Give us staffs or spears, or other new weapon types to hit bad guys with, please.

2. Give the dog a bigger role

This should go without saying, but although previous Fable dogs have been very good boys, it would be better for them to have a little more purpose to the actual gameplay. In Fable 2, he would dig up treasures and help you in battle, with more tricks available if you found the right books. He would also change appearance depending on your morality alignment. In Fable 3, however, he became a smaller part of your journey through Albion. You could pet him, play fetch or discipline him, and occasionally he would find you treasures. 

Having the dog play a larger role in your journey - along the lines of Fable 2’s faithful canine, or Dogmeat from Fallout 4 - would make it feel like a more integral part of the gameplay, rather than just a cute face to greet you every time you start up the game. Although, saying that, that’s okay too. 

3. Make all your decisions matter more

Original Fable creator, Peter Molyneaux, famously always had grand visions of what Fable’s morality system could be, but in reality, the gameplay never quite lived up to expectations or promises. Hopefully with the power of Xbox One X and PC, we could see the morality system - and overall decision making - get a decent overhaul for Fable 4. 

It would also help if your clothing choices weren’t just cosmetic either. Yes, your morality changed your appearance, especially in terms of skin, but your clothes had no affect on your character’s attributes or play style. Maybe in Fable 4 they could.

4. Enlist another all-star cast

The list of voice actors on board for Fable 3 was a dazzling array of talent, from Stephen Fry and Ben Kingsley to Sean Pertwee and Michael Fassbender and even Simon Pegg, John Cleese and Zoe Wanamaker, the voice talent in the game was brilliant. Hearing well-known voices in your game was a huge boon for Fable 3, and if Fable 4 could have a similarly star-studded cast, we wouldn’t mind at all.

5. Bring back the mini-games

Ah, RSI. An occupational hazard way back in Fable 2 and Fable 3 thanks to those job-related minigames that put your thumb to the test, and we’re 97% certain that were they to reappear in Fable 4 that muscle memory would reawaken from its slumber. Each activity requires you to stab various buttons in a certain order (duh), but with each promotion the difficulty increases - mainly by making the button prompts zip across the screen much, much faster. There is the chance to earn some serious gold and when you get really good at it you sort of go into a daze where your fingers act independently, waking up from the stupor with a sack of gold by your feet. Or is that just me? 

6. Keep the silliness

Although it’s easy to go a little over the top - we’re looking at you Saints’ Row - there’s a wonderful place that lies between that and being very boring indeed. And that’s where Fable has always sat, embracing the silliness, the occasional black humour and always, always individually quirkiness. If PlayGround Games, or whoever is making Fable 4, can channel that ethos and charm, it’ll help the series continue to stand out from the other RPGs out there. 

What do you want to see in Fable 4? Let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Twitter @GamesRadar.

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