The credits are rolling right now for Fable 3. I just beat it. I have more than a couple of thoughts I want to spill out, because this ending really struck a defining opinion in me. I’m assuming you already know the premise for Fable 3, and have played at least Fable 2, if not 1 as well.
Changes versus Fable 2
First of all, the extra bit of polish that went onto Fable 2’s engine really helped out. It has the same look of 2, but it feels more put together. There were a couple of “they didn’t fix that?” points, but I noticed less of those then the overall graphical/environment problems I had with 2. The biggest two problems:
1. I could see environment stitching. There were a few times where I noticed the textures for the ground or building had a very noticeable white line between them. It’s obviously a limitation of the engine, because they were in Fable 2, as well, but I noticed it far, far less this go round.
2. More then a couple points of bad hitbox collisions. For those unaware, hitbox collision is where a part of a character, say their leg, interacts with either another character’s hitboxes or the environment. Good hitbox collision is noticed when you NEVER notice it. Bad is when you go “…ok seriously fuck this rock I think I’m stuck on.”
Nothing too drastic, just little problems. When they happened it sucked but they happened rarely enough I didn’t care.
Otherwise the largest changes to Fable 2 was the new interfacing and experience system.
Interactions with NPCs are completely redone, in a far more simple manner. However, with each step along the path of building a relationship with a NPC, you now have to preform quests of some sort. It’s cool for a couple times, but after a while I hate it and don’t care. The old games, you had different outfits and expressions that you could use to make dozens of people fall in love with you all at once, now you actually have to work for each one. I get the idea of that, it makes way more sense then the old system, but in the Fable world I think it’s pointless to pick that as a point of “we gotta be realistic.” I mean, you’re a fucking HERO. If Justin Bieber can get 12 year old girls to flip shit over him, I think a guy that’s trying to save the damned world (for realsies) can do the same.
The new “Sanctuary,” which is literally the new start menu, is pretty neat. At first I thought “ok. this is … cool, I guess.” After about the fifth time in I was thinking “Yeah, I’d of been perfectly happy just having a god damned menu. This walking around to stuff is a little lame.” Towards the end I was used to it and it didn’t bother me. The lack of a mini map, or easily accessed map, made things daunting. Having to go to the Sanctuary, the up to the map to do anything… not fun. Granted, Fable 1 and 2 didn’t have what you could call “accurate renderings of the game world” as maps, but I felt I got more from them than Fable 3’s little 3D Risk map thing. It’s neat, I can see it becoming a popular “main map” format, but I still want a minimap. I know the breadcrumbs kind of make them pointless, but I like having it.
The whole “there’s no more experience” thing is kind of BS. It used to be that as you started the game, quest would grant you 500 experience, and killing things would grant a few XP here and there (or something, I’m making the numbers up to make a point). As you leveled up you earned more. Now, you earn 5 “Guild Seals” and as you get further in the game you earn more. Same shit, new name, new generic valuing. The difference is you have less stuff to spend it on that actually helps you thru the game, and more stuff that in Fable 2 was in books. So, now you just rank up your melee/ranged/magic combat or buy new spells. You also spend (granted, lots less) to upgrade your skills in the jobs to earn money, or to be able to do things like new expressions, dye your clothes, buy/sell buildings, etc. Easier, yeah. Better? Arguably. I say arguably because you earn GS’s by completing quests, killing stuff (much, much slower rate than it should be I think), and ranking up relationships with NPCs. The problem is, which you’ll hear me complain about later, is … there’s not enough things to earn GS’s.
I do like how a few of the spells are now in the form of potions. That was a big complaint of mine in Fable 2. In 1, I’d be blast off two or three spells at a time that were timed spells, meaning I use them, they last for x amount of time, then they’re over. My goal for every fight was “blow Slow Time first, ghost swords if they’re not up already, and fireball or enflame when I need it.” In 2, that still worked, but you had to program your spell casting set in order so that you could “stack” the spells, which never really worked. I ended up giving up on Slow Time in 2 because it wasted more time trying to stack it with other spells. Now, in Fable 3, a couple of the spells are potions, so they “function” like they did it 1. Also, you put on gloves to use your spells, and you can pair them together to make a Fire Vortex or Shock Swords (my two favorite combos, btw). Neat fix, I DEFINITELY used magic more in 3 then I ever did in 2 because of it. I still like Fable 1’s magic system best, because as you leveled up you reached a point where it was super overpowered. I understand why they turned that off, but that was why I liked it. You were so OP nothing ever stood a chance.
I don’t want to spoil anything (or as little as possible, at least), so I’m going to talk about the generics of game play. I won’t talk about the story in detail.
The opening is kind of typical, I enjoyed the nearly immediate “shit hits the fan!” moment. I really don’t think ANYTHING I did in Fable 2 effected the Fable 3 world. From what I could tell, at least. I have 3 or 4 heroes saved in Fable 2, and if it DID use one of those saves, it obviously just picked the first one. At least, I didn’t see anything that let me choose one, and the previous king in 3 was obviously a good guy, which is my main game save in Fable 2.
Anyways, I’ve only played thru the game once so far, and I’m not sure what happens when you do evil. In the beginning it REALLY felt like it was leaning more in the direction of the first game. In the first, so many of the quests ended with you earning lots of positive moral points. While building your revolution against the King, the same is happening. Once you ARE king, that’s when you realize that whole idea of being good is kind of meaningless in the beginning. You’re HIGHLY encouraged to turn to the extreme evil side. What pisses me off is, from what I can tell, there’s no middle line anymore. Fable 2 had a great middle road you could always choose in almost every case. The little side quests, crap that doesn’t matter, you had either good or evil chooses. The BIG things though, you could pick a middle road that was neither evil or good. The effect was if you did all good otherwise, you were still all good, and vis versa. When I realized what was happening, I gave up on trying to actually getting shit done but still being good and just went full on good, hoping it would end with some sort of “OHAI SUPER AWESOME NICE GUY, HERE’S SOMETHING THAT’LL TOTALLY SAVE THE DAY!” Guess what never happened? Yeah. There are a few points where there’s a “neutral” choice, but I never picked it because it does NOTHING to help the situation. It probably would help if I were playing evil to not be SUPER evil, but what’s the point then?
So anyways, I think I avoided spoiling, and I’m just gonna bitch about two things now.
1. Total game time played was around 10 hours. Maybe 15, I dunno for sure. The big hitch for Fable 3 is the whole “revolt against the king, then PLAY as the king! LE GASP! SUCH AN ORIGINAL IDEA!” (it is, I guess, an original idea, I’m just not sure it was a good one) The problem I have is that in Fable: The Lost Chapters, even having played it now 5 times or more, I can do nearly the same “completion” rate in … maybe 20 hours, best. Takes longer. The big difference is I’ll complete the game with EVERY spell and piece of gear maxed about 6-10 hours into game play time. That’s mostly because I know the game in and out that well now, but it’s also because there’s FUCKING SHIT TO DO. If I IGNORED entire sections of Fable:TLC I could finish it in 15-ish hours. Fable 3, although there ARE side quests, there’s SO FEW I could hardly max out anything before the end of the game. The whole revolt then king thing? Being the king is about a quarter of the game. I did all of that today in 2 hours, maybe 3. The worst part is WHILE you’re king you sit there and just say yay or nay to something. Of the 4 (was it 5? I’m sticking with 4) game time days that you’re king, you don’t even get to go do shit between them. Your little butler asshole has a day “scheduled,” and once you do the last one you go onto the next schedule. I GUESS I was supposed to ignore the schedule and just go do whatever the fuck I wanted, because it’s an RPG and you know there’s no actual time schedule to keep. Comparing it to Fable 2 is even worse. I think my total played time in fable 2, ignoring expansions, was like 20-25, maybe 30 hours. I’m pretty sure Fable 2 is twice as long as Fable 3, and I’m not counting DLC because 3 doesn’t have any DLC yet. Now, MAYBE I just happened to skip WAY more shit then I was supposed to, although I really tried to only skip things I felt would end in earning me evil moral points. This shit was way too short. I’m SERIOUSLY hoping that playing evil makes for a completely different playing experience, because that’s the only way I can rationally justify such a short game.
2. Did people complain about Fable 2 being too big of a game world or something? Fable 3 is fucking TINY. I know I harped on it a little bit, but there isn’t a GOD DAMNED thing to do in this game, and I can’t help but feel it’s because there’s so few zones that HAVE shit to do. It’s the kind of barren waste land of a map that makes me afraid that Lionhead is planning to just do a shit load of DLC. The problem is that DLC is gonna have to be cheap as hell, if not free, to make me want to pick up Fable 3 again (after I play evil once). They can’t have DLC add to the main story of the game, because that’s dumb (forcing me to replay the game in full just to see it? Yeah right). They’ll have to have a bunch of “tack on” DLC, like Fallout 3 did. DLC that’s completely unrelated to the actual story of the game. The problem with THAT is, unless playing on evil is seriously different, I’m not encouraged by the base game to download expansions. Same problem I had with Fallout 3. I beat it, didn’t like it, so I didn’t touch any DLC.
The following paragraph contains spoilers
What pisses me off about Fable 3 is that, RIGHT up until the point you become king, the game is fucking AWESOME. I was really enjoying myself. Each of the zones you’re in feels really well put together and fleshed out, the characters are well written and there’s AMAZING voice acting. The story feels EPIC, namely when you first land in Aurora. There’s some real greatest there. Everything goes downhill once you’re king though. The pace of what you ARE doing as king is slow and boring, then the artificial pace they put on the world is far, far too fast. You’re king for 4 playable days, but a year passes in that time. When I realized how much time passed so quickly, I thought about how I saw almost the entire game world I could access, and how little there was. I felt like while being king I should of been out in the world, expanding the kingdom’s borders, fighting off bandits from far off settlements, etc, etc. Once you’re at the point where you’re like “OK, well, that kind of sucked but at least this is what the game’s been building up to! Should be epic!” you’re let down. The final fight? I used UNMAXED magic spells to kill the final boss. Just 4 or 5 casts. Not even maxed out, I repeat. The race up to the final boss? Just an annoyance, at best. The whole thing was 100% anticlimactic. Then? The game’s just over. You sit there, you’re surrounded by the NPC’s all patting you on the back for being such a great dude, reminded that although you tried to be a nice guy the kingdom still got shit on BECAUSE you were a nice guy. Then the credits roll. After credits a window pops up that basically says “So like, you were a good dude and all, but because you were a nice guy nearly the entire kingdom is dead. Everyone left? They don’t like you, and you’re gonna be remembered as a shithead king.” Now, while I finished typing this, my guy’s hanging out in the Sanctuary.
I seriously was in love with Fable 3, right up until being king. That whole thing made the game shitty. I HOPE that playing thru again on evil will change my mind. Maybe playing good is a completely different game than playing evil thru out. I doubt it, but it’d be nicer. I also hope that the first couple DLCs are cheap enough that I’ll consider buying them just to see it, maybe they’ll fix something…