Fable Legends Preview

Shared stories.

It's easier not to think of Fable Legends as having much to do with the Fable series at all apart from the name and the plot. That will make this free-to-play fantasy cooperative asymmetrical multiplayer title (that's a mouthful!) far more understandable, or else you may attempt to make comparisons to main Fable games and tumble into a pit of confusion. Available for demo at GDC 2015 between five players, with one cast as the dungeon-master villain and the other four as party characters, Fable Legends showed that it's well on its way for a polished release.

Asethetically, Fable Legends has a faded fantastical look that reimagines the origins of the Fable universe, in a period of mythology that takes place a few centuries before the first Fable game. It was a time when Heroes were in abundance but needed to depend on each other given that the Heroes Guild had yet to exist. That explains the party-based nature underlying the game's cooperative concept behind the combat.

In practice, it's the Villain's role to defeat the party by whatever means necessary by controlling everything from where redcaps and ogres spawn, where gates appear to slow Heroes, and how traps are laid on the battlefield. Before the Heroes can move onto the following segments of a level, the Villain has a limited amount of time and overall creature points to increase the difficulty of the encounter. As the Heroes engage with the Villian's minions, he can control the placement of enemies on the board in real-time, setting up distractions and ambushes. Since players can be revived after falling in battle, it's worth surrounding fallen Heroes with explosives and resistance to prevent their brethren from reaching them.

Party members, on the other hand, must work together to clear the level; in this case, the town outskirts arranged in a sort of labyrinthine garden layered with stone bridges, foliage, and many wooden platforms where redcaps can attempt sniping your party from higher ground. It's up to the spellcasters and archers to take them out from afar while the tanks and brawlers keep them at bay, but that's only if your party chooses to stay together. Sometimes it's better to spread out and confuse the Villain so that your party can avoid being hit all at once, though it does make each character more vulnerable.

Out of the four available characters, I manned the role of the boxer, Tipple, who mainly punches redcaps into submission and can throw bottles for minor ranged abilities. His main advantage are being able to drink from a mug and restore a portion of recoverable health, and his ultimate ability, Haymaker, which hits an enemy and every other enemy of the same type. The other fighter, Evienne, is a female swordsman who can throw blades and extend the strength and reach of her two-handed sword. She can also create a wall of blades that will deal continuous damage to any enemies foolish enough to wander through.

The other two Heroes form the ranged side of the group, with the archer Shroud who can stun enemies and turn invisible for a short time and the female sorceress Glory who can throw fireballs, set traps, and switch locations with an enemy. While she can switch between fire and acid spells, her Apocalypse power can burn foes caught in its area of effect and will likely be used for groups or a single ogre.

The only trouble with the fighting system is that healing is rather scarce, with only healing potions being to restore lost hit points. Sometimes it's better to fall in battle and wait about a half-minute for the grace period to end, before being revived by another player which recovers half of your total health. This risky method of healing ensures that you don't waste a health potion that's far more useful in the final stage of the level. We'll have to see how the game deals with this curious balance issue.

Fable Legends hasn't been given a release date apart from 2015 and will release on PC and Xbox One, featuring a cross-platform feature where Villains can use SmartGlass to plan an attack before a quest begins.