The Fable reboot has all the British banter of the original, and it's a huge relief to see

RESIZED fable 4 screenshots
(Image credit: Playground Games/Microsoft)

A hero boots a chicken and sends it hurtling through the air, clucking angrily as it soars toward the majestic silhouette of Fable's kingdom of Albion. The hero pauses to admire her work, but the villager nearby just shakes his head. "Yeah, well done," he says dryly, and continues to push his wheelbarrow.

A new trailer for the medieval fantasy RPG kicked off this year's Xbox Games Showcase, making good on the cryptic teaser caught on Twitter last week. Vindication aside, it was so good to see developer Playground Games (who has taken on the franchise, following the closure of Lionhead in 2016) recapturing the tongue-in-cheek, crass humor of the original trilogy in a way that could only be done by a fellow UK studio. Playground's Fable is looking like a cleverly-remade adventure, promising a slick new experience that combines classic references with modern day gameplay.

Albion my way

Fable 2005 - chicken chaser

(Image credit: Lionhead Games)
Ones to watch

Assassin's Creed Mirage screenshots

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Fable's a long way from release, but some of the other upcoming Xbox Series X games are due out any day now.

I'll admit that I was a late bloomer when it comes to the Fable games. I was 10 when the first one came out, but having grown up in a staunchly PlayStation-only household, entering Albion for the first time in my late 20s still offered a hilariously quirky, unique magic to it that I'd not experienced before nor since.

Brimming with broad regional accents, countless Britishisms, and self-referential silliness underpinning every mission, it became apparent within the first five minutes that dry English humor is at the core of Fable's DNA. Lionhead Studios had worked these elements in so effortlessly that I can understand why skeptics raised their eyebrows at the reboot announcement; what if the new studio missed the mark and took the whole thing too seriously? And coming from a team known for developing the open world Forza Horizon series, how would it approach a fantasy RPG with such a strong legacy?

Thankfully, Playground absolutely understood the assignment, enlisting the silliest, most British actor you can imagine to feature in the latest Fable trailer: The IT Crowd's Richard Ayoade. It lets us see just how well-placed Playground is to deliver the goods, paying homage to what Lionhead achieved in the past, all while showing off the solid foundations it has laid for a new adventure.

I came here to drink milk and grow pumpkins

Fable 4 trailer - Dave eyes down the hero after they interrupt his interview

(Image credit: Playground Games/Microsoft)

The mockumentary-style trailer cleverly frames Playground's rendition of Fable around our understanding of the original, as told from the perspective of Richard Ayoade's agriculturally-minded Dave the Giant. As he answers the overarching question – what do you think about heroes? – his responses are intercut with scenes of one such self-inflated braggart hero going about her daily life. And what a life it is.

Something about watching a hero swigging ale at the tavern, punting chickens over hills in a callback to the Chicken Chaser hero title, and getting called a "wanker" by a random villager is so very Fable, pointing to how heroes in the series are far from perfect and are always being judged. That's because despite their heroic deeds, these champions aren't always village darlings, and one stray choice could deem you a bad actor and instill fear in the hearts of all you meet.  

The judgment of your hero in accordance to their actions is integral to the original Fable's constantly in-flux morality system, and I think even modern games like Hogwarts Legacy could still learn a thing or two from it albeit the dated semiotics of "blonde hair equals good, dark hair equals bad". To that end, it's hilariously on point for Dave the Giant to point out the less glamorous side of what it means to be a hero, or even the fact that you'll have to fight to earn the devotion of Albion's villagers.

Fable 4 screenshot - the hero at the tavern drinking ale and cheering

(Image credit: Playground Games/Microsoft)

This is something of a blessing, given the irritating hordes of adoring villagers swarming you in the first Fable should your morality meter sway drastically to the side of good. The propensity for your character to be a bit of an annoying showoff, or a straight-up evil cretin, was always on the cards, and I have hopes for Playground to bring back a new and improved version of the morality system.

The question of who the actual hero will be is commented upon, too. "You see, I'm not here to slay legendary beasts," says Dave as he addresses the camera. "I'm here to conquer the vegetable. Not a euphemism," he clarifies pointedly. He then goes on to suggest that he himself is the true hero, what with his impressively large green thumb and the gigantic pumpkins he's cultivated to prove it. "The age of the heroes is over – this is the age of innovation," Dave proudly proclaims, before being rudely interrupted by that no-good hero knocking on his door for a boss battle rumble.

Age of innovation

Fable 4

(Image credit: Playground Games)

Something about watching a hero swigging ale at the tavern, punting chickens over hills in a callback to the Chicken Chaser hero title, and getting called a "wanker" by a random villager is so very Fable.

Playground's vision for their Fable as a refreshed yet familiar reboot is seen in their rendering of Albion itself. From the in-engine footage, it looks as if the kingdom is bigger and more graphically-impressive than ever, and as I watched the hero "wafting around with mythical creatures" and enjoying their downtime, I was instantly taken by just how stunning the world looks – if this is truly representative of what Fable's gameplay will look like, then we're in for a treat 

While this new style is certainly a departure from the more charming, storybook-like appearance of the Lionhead games, that isn't totally lost on the new developer. We see this when Dave comments derisively on the "disproportionately high cheekbones and comically massive weapons" pertaining to your average hero: two elements characteristic of first Fable game's art style, but not so much seen here in Playground's more realistic take. Still, those nods to the past are a welcome touch, showing the developer's respect for the original games while taking it in a whole new stylistic direction.

Fable 4

(Image credit: Playground Games)

In a blink-or-you'll-miss-it caption toward the start of the trailer, we can see that the whole thing is "in-game footage" recorded in the game's very own engine. We're treated to third-person combat scenes that could be representative of how it might look to play Fable on release, including flinging magic orbs at bandits "just 'cause, well, they like to rough up bandits, don't they," and of course the Jack and the Beanstalk-like battle with Dave himself.

Flinging mouse traps, dashing through flames, and being picked up by one very annoyed giant as the hero mutters a defeated "oh f–"; Playground's Fable has the tone of the originals down to a T, and adds a few more letters besides. This two-minute trailer is proof enough that the studio has been working on something special in the two years since Fable's announcement, and I'm eager for more of this beautifully revamped medieval fantasy already, even without a hint of a release date. Let's face it: whether it launches in one year or 10, I'll be heading back to the Heroes Guild as soon as Playground lets me.

Check out the best RPGs to play next if you're looking for more fantasy adventures, from The Witcher 3 to Elden Ring.

Jasmine Gould-Wilson
Staff Writer, GamesRadar+

Jasmine is a staff writer at GamesRadar+. Raised in Hong Kong and having graduated with an English Literature degree from Queen Mary, University of London in 2017, her passion for entertainment writing has taken her from reviewing underground concerts to blogging about the intersection between horror movies and browser games. Having made the career jump from TV broadcast operations to video games journalism during the pandemic, she cut her teeth as a freelance writer with TheGamer, Gamezo, and Tech Radar Gaming before accepting a full-time role here at GamesRadar. Whether Jasmine is researching the latest in gaming litigation for a news piece, writing how-to guides for The Sims 4, or extolling the necessity of a Resident Evil: CODE Veronica remake, you'll probably find her listening to metalcore at the same time.