Preview Fable Legends – Heroes United

Rocky Aug 26, 2014

  1. Ro

    Rocky Guest

    Going into the behind-closed-doors Fable Legends demo room at Gamescom, you could almost feel the collective trepidation from the assembled journalists. And as we sat down to assume control of one of the game's heroes, we adjusted our expectations accordingly. Yeah, we weren't expecting much from Fable Legends, but what we did play wasn't nearly as bad as we thought it might be, although we were left with the sense that while it might have 'Fable' in the title, Legends isn't really what one would deem a traditional Fable game.

    According to Lionhead, Fable Legends is a “very story-driven” game, although we're given only the faintest hint of what that story is during our hands-on. In Fable Legends you'll play as one of a band of burgeoning heroes, 400 years prior to the events of the first game and the founding of the Heroes Guild. You can play the game alone with three AI players by your side, or go all-in for the full co-op experience.

    There are several heroes to choose from in the game, including Inga, a female tank-class character with a sword and shield; Glory, a damage dealer and noble lady performing heroic deeds for power and to fulfil her own ambitions; Leech, a healer who wants to dissect monsters for science; and Shroud, an assassin armed with a crossbow who is now seeking fame having been performing acts of heroism anonymously for years. There'll be plenty of other heroes to play as in Fable Legends, but for this particular hands-on session, these are the four we're presented with.

    Oddly enough, Fable Legends is an asymmetrical multiplayer game in the same mould as Turtle Rock's Evolve, in as much as you're either cast as the solitary player-controlled villain or one of the four heroes. The villain plays the game as a real-time strategy, complete with overhead view, planting traps and enemy creatures ahead of the match commencing. Naturally, the villain wants to strategically place each obstacle in the optimum position to best bring down the team of heroes, and as your machinations unfold in front of your eyes, you can also deploy enemies as the heroes progress, presumably while cackling manically.

    Each match plays out across several phases in a selection of contained arenas. As you progress you'll be funnelled down a set path, with the occasional fork in the road or a barrier to smash through, all while the villain rains down hell using a controller or via Xbox SmartGlass using a tablet. Enemies come in a variety of classes, from the common or garden goblin, to the sneaky, cloaked puck demons who'll spring surprise attacks on your team from the rear without warning. Then there are the huge trolls, whose only weak points are the fasteners on their belts.

    Playing as Shroud, we're able to use his invisibility skill and stun arrows to our advantage, protecting our allies from range. Controls seem initially somewhat on the fiddly side, but thanks to some helpful guidance from the game's Creative Director, David Eckleberry, we're soon using Shroud's abilities like a pro. Well, almost.

    Dealing with groups using Shroud's multi-shot, we try our utmost to stem the tide of enemies, while disposing of traps sneakily hidden beneath piles of rocks, but it all becomes too much for the other team members. As the troll stomps through the group covering them in snot, it's not long before Shroud is left as the last man standing, placing the onus squarely on us to revive the team and rescue our effort from the jaws of defeat. Swigging our last health potion (we started with only three), we make a beeline for Leech, who in turn gets Glory back to her feet. Finally, we evade the troll's mucus to revive Inga, and we're back in business.

    It's during moments like these that Fable Legends proves to be more fun than we had anticipated, and as we chalk up a victory by the skin of our teeth, we understand what Lionhead is trying to achieve. The only trouble is, Fable Legends might be a Fable game in name, but in reality, its resemblance to past instalments in the series is at best cursory. Yes, the verdant green environments and Victorian-style towns and cities of Albion are in keeping with the series' quirky Anglo-centric style, but from a gameplay perspective, Fable Legends is something else entirely.

    Without a doubt, we enjoyed our short time playing Fable Legends, but as a long-term prospect, Lionhead will need to ensure that the game's narrative is compelling enough to support a game that may well lose its lustre fast. What we've experienced of Fable Legends is by no means terrible, but we're failing to see the core components that made the original Fable games such singular, memorable experiences in their own right. We can only hope that Lionhead has something else up its sleeve.




    Fable Legends will be heading to Xbox One, but has yet to be given a release date.

    Source - X360A

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