The last proper Fable game was Fable 3 released on the Xbox 360 in 2010, following up on the success of 2008’s Fable 2 on the same console. The third game in the Fable series was reasonably well-received but didn’t win the critical acclaim of its predecessor or the original Fable.
The departure of legendary game developer Peter Molyneux and other key developers from Lionhead Studios resulted in a change of direction for Fable’s studio and its ultimate demise in 2016, despite it being owned by Microsoft. This left Fable in a semi-state of limbo.
There were spin-off Fable games in the form of Fable Heroes, a beat ‘em up game for the Xbox 360, Kinect-centric exploration and spell-slinging game Fable: The Journey, and Fable Fortune, a free-to-play digital card game that was launched in 2018 for the Xbox One but then discontinued March 2020. None of these Fable games garnered much acclaim, arguably sinking the series.
In 2013, hope was kindled with a teaser trailer for Fable Legends. It showed a five-player Xbox One game that had four people playing as hero characters and one player being a form of dungeon master villain sending enemies to attack the heroes. But the closure of Lionhead meant Fable Legends got cancelled.
That brings us to E3 2018, where Xbox boss Phil Spencer implied that what could be Fable 4 may be in the works. Spencer didn’t leave fans much to go on, so we’ve done a bit of digging to bring you what we know about Fable 4 so far, including a heavy dose of speculation. But come with us on that journey to find out more.
Fable 4 release date
Before you rush to the comments to complain: no, we don’t know when Fable 4 is going to be released. And we don’t even know if it’s truly under development, though a leak on Reddit a year ago claimed to reveal a deluge of information about Fable 4’s setting, game mechanics, and main themes. Regardless, take this as a placeholder for future updates.
If we were to guess, we’d say Fable 4 is still a couple of years away. From what we understand it’s being developed by Playground Games, the developer behind Forza Horizon 4, but there’s been precious little word from the studio about where it might be at with Fable 4. We suspect if Fable 4 was further along in development some more tidbits of information may have escaped the studio.
All that being said, Xbox Game Studios could be keeping a tight grip on its developers to ensure the game they are working on only gets revealed when Microsoft wants them to be shown off. We’d love to see Fable 4 get teased at the July 23 Xbox Series X exclusive games event, but we’re not going to hold our breath.
Fable 4 leaks, news and rumors
There have been a lot of little hints at the existence of Fable 4, the latest being a placeholder @Fable Twitter account being followed by a Microsoft employee. But then Aaron Greenberg, general manager at Xbox, shot down speculation that this could be a clue that a Fable 4 announcement was incoming.
“I know everyone is hungry for news, but sorry to get your hopes up. These accounts have been inactive for years, it’s standard practice to secure social handles for our IP,” Greenberg said.
I know everyone is hungry for news, but sorry to get your hopes up. These accounts have been inactive for years, it’s standard practice to secure social handles for our IP.June 28, 2020
This poured cold water on the recent fires of speculation. But over the past few years, other clues to Fable 4 have popped up. Phil Spencer has hinted at Fable 4 before E3 2018, with a tweet back in 2017 noting there was nothing Xbox Game Studios had to announce but the Fable IP has “a lot of places it could go.”
However, while that was happening, IGN found that Microsoft has applied for a renewal of the Fable trademark on June 26, with Microsoft also filing an intent to use the application. Microsoft has yet to confirm or deny its plans for the Fable trademark.
In 2018 Don Williamson, the former Lionhead lead engine programmer, tweeted that he knew of a studio working on Fable 4, though he has since deleted the tweet. That studio seems to be Playground Games.
Then in 2019, a massive Fable 4 leak on Reddit popped up around E3 2019, though the game was never showcased. The leak detailed how Albion, the land of Fable, has been completely destroyed by an asteroid called down by a mad king who took control of The Spire, which Fable 2 fans will remember was something you needed to wrest control of from Tyran Lucien Fairfax.
Fable 4 setting and gameplay
The asteroid impact results in “a land reduced to fables” and the leaked information indicated that Fable 4 will take place on another continent. Oh, and there will be other planets too, as the Heroes’ Guild and enigmatic character Theresa have to take shelter on a different planet that can be accessed via a Demon Door — think portal to another world or area.
As odd as that sounds, the leak implies that Fable 4 will have a similar medieval setting to the first game, with Fable 2’s muskets and pistols replaced by more swords and sorcery. Multiplayer is also expected, likely in the form of co-op exploration, though there’s been no clue to how it’ll be implemented.
More interesting is the suggestion that Fable 4 will be completely open, suggesting a larger open-world game than the previous Fable games. Players can allegedly ignore the main quest to become a hero and instead go around building towns.
But if they do pursue the quest, it will apparently involve time travelling and will see the return of the first game’s antagonist Jack of Blades. As this is a Fable game, there’ll be in-depth character creation and likely a lot of moral choices to make that influence how people perceive the player’s character. It should look pretty good as well, as it’s tipped to use Unreal engine (possibly the new Unreal Engine 5 we’ve already seen in action on PS5).
What we want from Fable 4
Unlike Skryim or recent Grand Theft Auto games, the Fable games have always been about giving you a reasonably constrained open world packed with things to do rather than places to explore and story to uncover. While we don’t want to lose some of the charm and silliness Fable games offered us, such as buying out whole towns or marrying multiple people and watching as they had arguments in the street about you, we’d like to see a bit more depth with Fable 4.
A larger open world with more space to run around and the ability to effectively go further into places your character may be poorly equipped to deal with is something we’d like to have the option to do. And some deeper side quests with results and consequences that leave a mark on the world would also be appreciated.
We’re not expecting the same level of plot depth as The Witcher 3, as that wouldn’t suit Fable. But a little more flesh on the story and sidequests would be great.
It would also be neat to be able to manipulate the world in the ways like Peter Molyneux promised the original Fable would have, such as being able to cut down a tree and see it grow back if you come back years later. The power of the Xbox Series X and Windows 10 PCs should have no trouble making this a reality.
Combat in Fable could also be improved, making it feel more kinetic and strategic rather than a slightly floaty mix of hammering a couple of buttons and cycling through enemies until they hit the deck. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild proved that depth could be added into combat with various parry, dodge, and weapon moves without making the game complex or too like Dark Souls.
Finally, we’d like to see the dog make a return. It was a core and excellent part of Fable 2, but its role was somewhat diminished in Fable 3.
So Fable 4 could instead give the dog more of a part in the game, maybe allowing you to sic it onto enemies in the vein of D-Dog in Metal Gear Solid V.
Fable 4 might not happen
Despite saying all the above, there’s still a chance Fable 4 might not be in development and the leaks and rumours are simply residual bits of a cancelled project. We reckon Microsoft isn’t done with the Fable series just yet, but we wouldn’t put much money on it.
Fable 3 also came out at a time before Skyrim, The Witcher 3 and Breath of the WIld set high watermarks in how open-world fantasy games could be delivered. Arguably, in a world with such games, a new Fable game might feel a tad archaic.
Playground Games could shake-up the formula, but then there’s a risk it might not feel like a Fable game. Sure, some fans would be happy for more of the same. But to make Fable 4 worth the investment from Xbox Game Studios, it would need to tread the line between being faithful to the series yet having something new and fresh to make it compelling and keep people from going back to yet another new console version of Skyrim.
We’re quietly optimistic that Fable 4 will be made to help give the Xbox Series X an ace in the hole. Time will tell, likely another year or so, unless Microsoft has a surprise at its upcoming Xbox 20/20 events.