Lagging in my awareness of Fable III, I've missed a few details. I caught up yesterday and learned new things about Fable III.
For those coming to this even later than I am, let me toss in some basics. Fable III. It's a big Xbox 360 medieval adventure that mixes the feel of Arthurian legend with Monty Python silliness. Occurs 50 years after Fable II. You're playing the son or daughter of the last game's hero, going on quests and making promises to the people of the land about what you would do if you should one day be king, while your miserable brother (aka the kingdom's ruler) is up to no good. The little-seen latter portion of the game puts you in control of the kingdom and liable to deliver or deny the promises you made in the game's first portion.
It's an action-adventure with numbers removed from the character-attribute-leveling process but with some sort of measure of followers (think Twitter) associated with your advance through the game. It has a swifter combat system that supports brisk weapon-switching, and it has a blink-fast inventory system that appears as a set of interactive closets staffed by a butler voiced by John Cleese.
OK? Back to the things I learned at a Manhattan showcase yesterday for Microsoft's next big things, Fable III among them:
1) There's a game in this game. One of the elaborate side-quests in Fable III sucks your hero into a tabletop role-playing game. Shrunken into a new fantasy world your hero gets new, silly perks and upgrades. I earned my hero "+30% self-importance" as I ran around trying to rescue a damsel in distress. As you play "The Game" the Fable characters who invited you into it can be heard talking about the whole affair. They are the game masters, joking about the rules they've created, debating each other's design decisions, declaring at one moment that this is "the worst game ever," and, most ridiculous of all, doing the voice-acting for all of their characters. A Microsoft Fable representative who showed me the game said the quest lasts a good 20 minutes. It is an example of some of the more imaginative excursions available in the game.
2) You can enjoy some of the benefits of marriage without getting married. I'm referring to money, of course. Fable players who don't wish to marry other characters in the game can still engage in "business partnerships" that will produce some financial advantages.
3) Magic is mixable. Your hero's magical powers in Fable III are associated with magical gauntlets. Because your hero has two hands, he or she can wield two gauntlets which emit a combined, mixed spell. I was shown the results of a spell fired by a hero wearing a fire gauntlet and an electricity one. The emitted blast of fire and lightning, fried its targets in two appropriate ways. Any two magics can be mixed, I was told.
I was also reminded yesterday of some other fun Fable III details that I had heard before: characters in the Fable III world will remark on the Fable II exploits of gamers who played the previous Fable game; the romance system will be a little more complex than last time, requiring the player to sometimes do something other than flex repeatedly to get someone to fall in love with them; the dog, a hero's best friend, is back.
There are plenty more details to be learned. We'll be learning them together soon. Fable III launches on the Xbox 360 in North America on October 26.