Once upon a time, the Fable series was a core part of the Xbox identity. It was never quite so popular as Halo, but it was unquestionably a part of the Xbox brand. That might soon be the case once again, according to a report from Eurogamer.
According to the site, Microsoft is making a “significant investment” into Fable, and that studio Playground Games is currently staffing up for development, “with some 200 people set to work on the game.” The game is set to be a “story and character focused open-world action RPG,” Eurogamer writes. The title is currently in very early days of development, so we shouldn’t expect to hear anything about it just yet, especially with Microsoft’s recent experiences with the cancellation of Scalebound and the delays and confusion surrounding Crackdown 3.
Rumors of a new, non-Forza game coming out of Playground first surfaced last February. The studio has been known so far for its work on the Forza Horizon branch of the Forza series, so the idea was a bit of a surprise. After seeing how Killzone developer Guerrilla Games handled the shift from grimdark shooter to the bright, naturalistic Horizon Zero Dawn makes the sharp shift an appealing notion. Apparently Microsoft thought so, too, as that PlayStation 4-exclusive title acted as partial inspiration for the move.
Also surprising is the resurrection of the Fable series. If this report proves true, then it comes less than two years after Microsoft shuttered Lionhead, the studio responsible for creating the Fable games. The Fable titles have always had a uniquely cartoonish and raunchy tone that may be hard to replicate. If it is indeed Fable that Playground is working on, it may be a very different game than the series we’ve come to know, not just in genre and mechanics but in humor and visual style.
While it feels a bit strange to see Microsoft resurrecting the license that belonged to the studio it canned just a couple years ago, it might be a great move for the series. While the first couple Fable games were a blast, things had gone downhill from there. The series shifted from expansive RPGs built on player decisions (and chicken chasing) to a beat’em up, a collection of minigames, a Kinect-focused game called Fable: The Journey, and finally a lackluster digital card game called Fable Fortune. Fable Legends was cancelled when the studio was closed down. While it’s tough to say for sure, it seems likely that Microsoft didn’t know what to do with the license and was just throwing the popular name at every initiative they could think of over the years. With a different studio working on it and a pile of successful games under its belt, maybe they’ll be able to get the kind of attention needed to do something interesting with the license.
At this point, we can look forward to hearing about this game in 2019 at the earliest. Maybe even 2020. But for longtime Fable fans, that’s more to look forward to than they’ve had in a while.