Fable II: The Gunslinger

 October 14, 2008 - Fable II is just a week away and to celebrate, we're giving you five days of coverage. Yesterday, we looked at hand-to-hand combat. Today, we examine guns in Albion.

The original Fable didn't have guns, but Fable II takes place more than 500 years later. This is a swashbuckling age where pistols are as common as swords. If you prefer to be a traditionalist, there are crossbows available for purchase. Just don't expect to impress the ladies with a bow and arrow. A gun gives you swagger.

Ranged weapons are relegated to the Y button. If you want to shoot someone, tap Y and you'll whip out your pistol (or rifle or crossbow) and take a shot at the target. As a hero, you're quick on the draw, enabling you to easily mix ranged shots in with your magic and sword attacks. You can cast three fireball spells, then leap at an enemy with a sword slash, then snap-shoot him in the gut.

Guns are classified in the same way as melee weapons. The lower-end guns are rusty, followed by iron and steel, working up to master and the very rare legendary weapons. Augments can also be slotted to make your gun more powerful. In fact, there is no distinction with augments between melee and ranged, making all magical gemstones interchangeable with every weapon.

Each gun/crossbow has several stats that note its effectiveness in combat. Damage, damage type (bullets or arrows), attack speed, ammo capacity, reload time and range are all included for your consideration. Keep in mind that you never have to buy ammo and never run out of ammo in Fable II. Ammo is always such a nuisance in RPGs, so Lionhead took it out altogether. The punks of Albion always know there's another bullet in the chamber. Ammo capacity refers to how often you must reload. Since reloading takes time, this can slow the speed of your ranged attacks. Pistols have worse range and do less damage than rifles, but they also require less reloading. If you want to be able to get off a number of quick shots, then a pistol should be on your hip. But if you prefer capping enemies from across the river, then a rifle should be slung over your back.

Improving your skill with ranged weapons is crucial if you intend to follow the ways of the gunslinger. Your talent with a gun is tied to your Skill abilities. There are three areas where you can spend your experience in Skill: Dexterous Styles, Accuracy and Speed. Accuracy increases the damage dealt with ranged attacks and speed improves how quickly you reload your weapons as well as the speed of melee attacks. It's Dexterous Styles that end up being most beneficial, as each level adds new functionality to your gun.

Level 1: Roll
With weapon drawn, tap A to roll out of the way. While this doesn't help at all with attacking an enemy, it's crucial if you want to focus on ranged attacks. You can't block with your gun out -- roll dodging is the only option to avoid being hit.

Level 2: Aimed Ranged Attack
Hold Y to enter Aim mode. You can manually aim the gun with the left thumbstick, which helps to target objects as opposed to enemies. With great skill, you can get in some headshots, but it's not always easy. Don't worry, greater help is on the way once you earn more experience.

Level 3: Zoom
Holding Y not only enters Aim mode, but it now zooms in to give you a better view of the target. This is helpful for those who like taking out enemies from long range with a rifle.

Level 4: Sub-Targeting
This is where the magic happens. While in Aim mode, hold the Left Trigger to bring up the sub-targeting cursor. Move the Left Thumbstick and you'll target specific body parts. Shoot the gun out of a bandit's hand, blow a Hollow Man's head off from 50 yards, or pop a Balverine in the crotch. (Yes, Wolfman has nards in Fable II.)

Once you achieve Level 4, you are pretty much the deadliest person in Albion. You will wreak a mighty vengeance with your gun. One of the most effective ways to take on enemies is casting Time Control to slow time. With enemies moving at a snail's pace, take out your gun, sub-target your enemies and take their heads off in an orderly fashion.

Ranged combat is just one-third of combat. Check back tomorrow, when we take a look at the final element of combat, magic.