...In the no-no zone.
How much longer is it going to be before Peter Molyneaux ends up in jail? First he designs the virtual young boy, Milo, for people to play with using Project Natal. Now as if that wasn't enough, he wants you to touch people! Okay, so maybe they're not real people, but don't let that technicality fool you. He wants you to get emotionally attached to these imaginary friends in this imaginary world he's created for you. And that's just what he intends to do in Fable III and its new “touch” mechanic.
[image1]Touch is a feature inspired by cult favorite Ico, which had your bull-horned avatar leading a young girl through a maze by hand. Mechanically, Touch functions in a very similar way, but in Peter's version there can be "good" and "bad" touch, and if the last Fable taught us anything, I'm almost positive that's going to end up being a double entendre. But for now, let's assume it means something more innocent.
The demo first showed an example with the main character scolding his daughter for wandering off, then lifting her up in his arms and throwing her up into the air to cheer her up. The next one was a bit sadistic, though. The main character grabbed a hobo and, instead of giving him some spare change, dragged him by the hand kicking and screaming to a factory where he was sold.
That said, there are a lot of factories in the latest rendition of Albion. The Evil King Logan lords over the land and enforces his rule with an iron grip. Ten children die laboring every day and poverty runs rampant. As the child of Fable II's hero, you have the ability to change things for the better... or worse. But that's nothing new.
[image2]What's different this time is that you're only halfway done once you've overthrown Logan. On your way to the throne, you're going to sign papers that say you'll agree to do certain things once in office. And just like any other politician, once you're in office you'll have to the choice to keep these campaign promises, or say screw it and throw whomever you made a concession to in a dungeon.
Combat is smooth and HUD-less now. Instead of a health bar, the screen color informs you when you're about to die. Just like in most modern first-person shooters, the screen gets a red glow around the edges and everything goes black and white. New finishing moves have been added as well for the all-so-important cinematic flare.
But that's not all that's changed. Many of the problems that plagued the last game are gone, and many of its RPG elements have been streamlined. Before, only your physical appearance would change based upon how you decided to play through the game; now everything morphs instead of leveling up in the traditional sense. Kill a lot of innocent people with a giant hammer and it starts dripping blood. Beat up some hard-shelled monsters with a scythe and watch it grow spikes. The weapon will even eventually get named after you, and you'll be able to trade it for other custom weapons online.
[image3]There is no experience to speak of, no orbs scattered throughout the land to collect, no menus with which to tweak upgrades. Instead, you'll receive followers based upon your decisions and your effectiveness in combat.
Multiplayer will now allow you to play co-op with your character in your friend's games and vice-versa. “Everything you can do in your own game, you can do in co-op.” That's directly from Peter's mouth. Good news for anyone who felt like a ghost adrift in another person's world in the last one.
And what about Mr. Molyneaux's claim that people would hate his big Fable III announcement? He says that making a game in which you're given such power, as opposed to the traditional hero's journey formula found in most titles in the genre, along with the FPS elements would upset some folks. But really, all I've seen so far looks to innovate the genre with a unique and interesting approach that we've come to expect from Lionhead Studios. Now we'll just have to see if he can finish a game to his satisfaction for once and avoid going to jail for his “busy hands”. Look for more information on Fable III as we get closer to a release date sometime in Q4 2010.