As early as March of this year, Fable designer Peter Molyneux teased to us that the series might take a different direction.
The "See The Future" DLC strongly and bluntly alluded to that new direction as well, and today's press conference in Germany seems to have cemented that into fact.
"Third in a series and second outing on same format can be a problem," Molyneux said. Instead of rehashing a slightly tweaked version of Fable II, the designer wants players to be surprised and "expect the unexpected." For Fable III, that means ruling a kingdom.
A voice-over for the game's teaser sums it up perfectly: "The kingdom of Albion is changing. The land needs a ruler. King or queen. Cherished leader or ruthless tyrant. That future has not been written. The race for the crown has begun."
Instead of becoming a hero, players will start out as the son or a daughter of an Albion hero and become the ruler of all — explaining those recent teasers. For the first half of the game, players will lead a fight against a tyrant king by gathering support, gaining followers and uniting factions and then face the reality of why those things happen in the world.
Players must decide which promises they can keep for their followers, and those choices will not be as easy as they sound.
The developer has been inspired by historical figures like Joan of Arc, Richard III and Genghis Khan.
"Why not be that king or that queen? Your consequences and your judgments affect not just you, but the whole of your land," Molyneux says. The designer wants players to feel the power of their actions.
Like other Fable games, players can play the title for good or evil. Choices include poverty, greed, tyranny, compassion, progress and tradition. Also, like in Fable II, the player's family will have a role in the game. You can expand your castle to please your queen or king, but at the expense of taking money from the pockets of your people. Characters from Fable II will also be appearing in the title.
The landscape of Albion will range from lush green to industrialized to show "dynamic regions" and how they show things like poverty and injustice.
Game mechanic-wise, Fable III allows players to pardon citizens or sentence them to whatever fate they like. It's up to the player to make those judgments. Another new mechanic is called "Touch". Because the expressions of Fable II are not appropriate for Fable III (you are the ruler!), this new interaction allows players to shake hands, hug, embrace and even give a "full passionate snog". "Dynamic Touch" allows players to hold hands and, for example, pull them along to look at the sunset.
"Imagine hearing the cries from a young child in a house," says Molyneux. "You as a hero, a ruler, you storm into that house to save that child." Dynamic Touch will add more to saving that child than simply pressing A to save them, letting you feel the interaction of picking them up, pulling them away, saving them from a burning house. "Being able to touch people as a ruler and see how they react, that's what we want."
According to Molyneux, "You're going to see all sorts on injustices on the road to your rule." That road to rule begins in 2010 when Fable III arrives on the Xbox 360.