Microsoft announced Fables Legends for Xbox One during its Xbox Media Briefing event on the eve of Gamescom in Cologne and Pocket-lint has been taken through a brief demonstration of some of the gameplay, even though the final game will not see the light of day for another year.
The demo was of a pre-Alpha build of some of the in-game action. But even from this showing, Fable fans are not going to be disappointed.
First on the agenda during the showing was the fact that the latest chapter is being developed by much of the team behind previous Fables games, and experienced producers who have loved the franchise since its debut on the original Xbox.
They emphasised that the latest retains all the humour and much of the look and spirit of the originals, but adds next-generation graphics and utilises the online and cloud functionality of the Xbox One.
This time around there will be multiple heroes to play as, co-operatively too. Up to three other players can progress through the story, but you don't have to have real-life compatriots to help out as any of the three extra characters can be played by computer AI.
The mantra is “you will never be alone”.
Each of the characters has different abilities, and we saw four of them in the Gamescom demo. One is a magic user, one a skilful archer, another more like the heroes of previous Fable games, and one a bad-ass female knight much in the mould of Brienne of Tarth in Game of Thrones.
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We got to see each of them perform some killer moves, but they work best in combination. For example, one fired freezing ice magic while another blasted the frozen foes to smithereens. Even the computer AI characters will be able to do this, apparently. Be great if they pull that off.
We were also treated to some stunning vistas of Brightlodge, the town and surrounding areas shown in the demo. The heroes were on their way to find a magic artefact called - to much sniggering from Stewart Lee and Richard Herring fans - the “Moon-on-a-stick”, and the Unreal Engine 4 graphics definitely pop and fizz more than the current generation is capable. Drawing distances are also much better realised.
More will be revealed as Fable Legends nears its completion date next year, most likely at E3 next June, but there was one last tantalising glimpse of another new mode that really elevates the game above its forebears. It will allow a third player to take on console players using Xbox SmartGlass on any compatible tablet or device.
This player will play as the villain. It's not another character as such, more like a dungeon master, as the villain gets an isometric view of the game and can place traps, monsters, even control the main boss on levels.
This will be in separate multiple levels rather than the main story mode, with the victors being recognised after each bout and, therefore, league tables could be set up. A single player could even take on four AI heroes to practise the mode, so there's no need to seek out random players.
In short, we're very excited by Fable Legends, even at this early stage. It looks absolutely incredible, and we're very pleased the British humour and the idiosyncrasies that made the original games so much fun are still in evidence.
We'll bring you more on Fable Legends when we have it, but don't expect to see much until next year.