GC 2009: Fable III Announced

You are the ruler of Albion. Will you be beneficent or merciless?

August 19, 2009 - During Microsoft's Gamescom 2009 press briefing Lionhead's director, Peter Molyneux, announced that Fable III is coming in late 2010. Checking his hyperbole as much as possible, Molyneux went on to promise a sequel far bigger and more ambitious than Fable II. It would have to be: You are, after all, going to be ruling all of Albion.

Fable III begins by reading your Fable II save. You play as the son or daughter of your Fable II hero. Albion has changed a bit since we last saw it, though all the details of this change aren't yet known. You don't begin Fable III as the ruler of Albion. Instead, you spend the first half of the game gaining support so that you might lay claim to the throne. This requires you to make campaign promises to people and different districts of Albion. Keeping those promises once you are in charge is going to be a whole different matter.

It may sound like you are nothing but a politician. Don't worry. There's still plenty of fighting to be had. In fact, Molyneux says that you are seen as a hero type of ruler, comparing your character to Star Trek's Captain Kirk. No word on whether Fable III is adding hot green chicks to the populace.
Choice and consequence are still major elements of Fable III, though your choices will have far more dramatic effects on Albion. You control the spending across the land, choosing how much to tax each area, what to spend. You decide which parts of Albion thrive and which might suffer. On top of this, you have the duties of a ruling dignitary, hosting important people from other lands. Albion is not the world, after all, it's just a single continent. And in Fable III, other countries will be involved in the story.

No ruler would be complete without someone sitting beside them in the throneroom. Your King or Queen will have a spouse at their side, urging them to make decisions. Your family plays a bigger role in Fable III. Apparently the first big innovation in Fable III is having someone nag you. He or she will be helping you shape the land. It will be a tough task balancing tyranny and compassion, progress and tradition.

Molyneux revealed two new gameplay mechanics being added to Fable III. The first is called Judgment. What would a ruler be, after all, without the ability to judge his subjects? People will come to you in court and plead their case. You may be called on to settle disputes or rule on a man's guilt. To help judge people, you can go out and investigate. These sound like side quests, with your hero something like the Scooby Doo of Albion. Of course, there are plenty of opportunities for corruption. We imagine bribery may occur or that, despite the evidence, you may rule against someone just to be a jerk. You have the power. What you do with it is your decision.

More interesting is the second feature addition, called Touch. The first layer of this is easy enough to get a handle on. Gone are the silly expressions of Fable II. Instead, you can now choose to kindly take the hand of a fair maiden you've just met. The next time you meet, perhaps it is a warm hug. And slowly that can evolve to a little bit of the down and dirty. Then there is the Dynamic Touch system. In Fable II, if a child were crying you might be told to press A to sooth them. In Fable III, you have far more interactive options. You can actually cradle them in your arm to give comfort. Dynamic Touch also allows you to reach out to anyone you see in Fable III. Hold hands as you watch the sunset or give a reaffirming tap on the back to an ally. Molyneux did not speak of how this mechanic is inputted, but it's possible this will utilize Project Natal.

Molyneux is giving a talk at GDC Europe later today, where he will discuss Fable III in more depth. Keep an eye on IGN for any new details revealed at that talk.