Fable 4 better have real estate mechanics so I can buy giant Richard Ayoade's house once I've defeated him

Fable 4
(Image credit: Playground Games)

Considering the current state of the British economy, it's fair to say I've resigned myself to never getting on the property ladder. But while I'll be a forever renter in reality, there's a distinct possibility I'll have a chance to live out my land lording fantasies in Fable 4, should the devs at Playground Games allow it. Yep, real estate mechanics are a thing in the Fable franchise. What, you didn't know Fable was part-management sim? Let me tell you a story about RPG property ownership.

I went back to the Xbox 360 recently to play Fable 2 in wake of Fable 4 announcements, and remembered that it was not only possible but highly lucrative to form a portfolio of owned properties and rinse my tenants for all they're worth. It's one of the best ways to earn a few bob – and yes I will be using British slang here, because Fable. Previous Fable devs, Lionhead Studios (RIP), introduced real estate mechanics way back in the franchise's infancy with the original game, though the necessary steps for acquiring said properties was, uh, kinda brutal.

Home and away

The franchise's property acquisition system had humble beginnings in Fable 1, with viable homes dotted about the map sporting for-sale signs in the front yard. Simple enough. But for properties not currently on the market, you had to actually evict the tenants by force in order to lay claim to the property. That meant dragging them out of their front door at swordpoint, or luring them outside the city to kill them and steal their assets. What can I say? Medieval times were rough.

Once you'd purchased or stolen your spot on the property ladder, it was a matter of collecting your dues. Rent would be left outside each occupied home for you, the landlord, to pick up by hand. Gathering up bags of coin left outside by your tenants is neither the most practical nor the safest way to go about rent collection, and to make matters worse, leaving your earnings uncollected for three days would cause players to miss out on any future payments – presumably due to limited space on the doorstep. You could also buy shops, if you were so inclined. These were much more expensive and yielded a pittance in rent in comparison to buying-to-let, but that balanced out in the form of juicy discounts store discounts.

Anyway, suffice to say that Fable 1's real estate mechanics were clunky at best. Fable 2's were thankfully a little more refined: no more forcible evictions (unless you wanted to move in yourself), and no more GTA-style "get out, this is mine now" altercations. Just click a button and the property is vacated – much more realistically impersonal. The silly swag bags were done away with, too. Even in your absence, your income would tick over in real-time and notify you of your gains when you switched the game back on. You could swap out furniture, and even increase the rent by up to 100% – though it would really mess with your moral alignment. You could even rob the checkout counters at your owned stores, if you were that kind of boss.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

We don't just want to fantasize about being a hero of the realm, we want to earn passive income while we do it

Fable 3 kept the land-lording trend going with further improvements, adding even more ways to decorate your properties. Managing your portfolio through the interactive map was made possible, but you had to repair properties before their condition reached 0% or tenants would stop paying rent. 

As for Fable 4, I can't wait to see how new developer Playground might have improved the real estate mechanic this time around, should they decide to keep it. And I really hope they do. It's so much more interesting than buying a house in a game like Skyrim, for example, where acquiring property in every city and decorating your humble abode(s) can feel a little lifeless. Being the greedy, corrupt, would-be property mogul that I am, I relish the idea that Fable 4 might keep real estate mechanics – and you can bet I'll be putting a deposit down on giant Richard Ayoade's house once he's out of the picture. Goodbye Dickie, hello humongous money bags.

In short: money shouldn't sleep. I want my digital assets working for me while I go off into the wilds and hero it up in the new Fable game. In fact, why don't more RPGs have real estate mechanics? Lionhead Studios understood us as a fanbase. We don't just want to fantasize about being a hero of the realm, we want to earn passive income while we do it. Take notes, Playground!

From Fable to The Witcher, the best RPGs will have you exploring mysterious new worlds.

Katie Wickens
Freelance writer

Katie is a freelance writer covering everything from video games to tabletop RPGs. She is a designer of board games herself and a former Hardware Writer over at PC Gamer.