We address the beginnings and evolution of a saga pending return. We also assess how things are with the license currently.
Fable. A name closely linked to the Xbox brand, to the name of Lionhead Studios. One of them will not return, a study whose closure left a great void for enthusiasts of the western role; the other, the protagonist of this article, can see the light as a Phoenix Bird if Microsoft decides that it is time to return. It is surely one of the most demanded licenses in the pools, the image that comes to all of us when we propose editorial reports of possible sagas to recover in the future. Now, is that future closer than ever? Well, desire always weighs more than reality, because the information is rather little.
Why People Want Fable So Much
Before delving into the information, let’s do a little introspection, a look back that allows us to understand why Fable is such a beloved saga and why there are those who remember their original Xbox by this sequence of five letters. It was 2004 when the first delivery hit the stores. A moment of transition for the sector where 3D was already perfectly established. The 128 bits paved the way for the polygons, but the sector was beginning to have a broader and more heterogeneous park of installed users than just a decade earlier. Lionhead Studios, a British team led by the singular Peter Molineux, was the architect of this work. They were not strangers; they are responsible for Black & White, but it was Fable the drop that filled the glass. It caught the attention of Microsoft so much that, broadly speaking, they knew how to identify the talent of this particular study – which seems to carry with it the delays and severe changes in their DNA – so that they would work only for them. On paper, a smart business decision that Fable II would emerge in 2008, this time on Xbox 360.
Returning to the original work, product of the binomial between Lionhead and Big Blue Box, we find a rare, unconventional game, which showed that our actions had consequences. Role, but a different role than what we had surely seen on consoles until now. Molyneux was sincere and promised a unique, wonderful experience for each user. The truth is that they are two adjectives that fit the definition of Fable correctly, because even today it is hard to believe that such a variety of situations were achieved and such an immersive universe. A soundtrack that continues to resonate in our heads, a technical section that made clear the graphic capacity of the first Xbox and, ultimately, the development options for our character. Fable was made to you at the same time that you played the game.
The second part was not far behind. Traveling to Albion on Xbox 360 left a special aftertaste, the always pleasant sensation of facing something with no possible equivalent in between. With not a few revolutions on the way, he highlighted a clear evolution to make the playable section even more fun; without compromising production values where it was noted that it was not exactly short of budget. The comparisons are hateful, and at the time the competition was greater, it was fierce. Bethesda brainstormed and hit the table real hard with The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, so the best way for Fable 2 to distance itself from its competitors was to be true to its style. Be Fable. Perhaps it lacked more than a cooperative mode and interesting stories.
We finished the first trilogy with Fable III in 2010, when we still didn’t know that the end of Lionhead was as close as they surely would have liked. The game said goodbye in style to Xbox 360, also on PC. The pre-industrial era of the Modern Age was left aside and a fully industrial setting was embraced, with the practical effects that this could entail. He was a continuist at a general level, although refined in his own formula and with a greater variety of options. A must-have especially for those who taste the style of the second part, seasoned with an enormous sense of humor. An ode to the role accompanied by a great combat system and a technical section that, today, does not look bad at all.
Aside from Fable: Anniversary for Xbox 360 in 2014, allowing console users to have all three installments natively on a single system, the next step was the canceled Fable: Legends for Xbox One. So let’s talk about Project Milo.
Lionhead Studios fall from grace
Following the excellent original trilogy, Project Milo was conceived as an experience for Kinect. Presented at E3 2009 with Microsoft Game Studios, the title was compatible with Project Natal, which would later be called Kinect. They had put a lot of ideas and efforts into that concept, a house-brand experiment that they later came to recognize as a disaster. After Fable: Heroes as a cooperative minor bet, Fable: The Journey would be presented as the next step, a first-person bet on rails that, in truth, did not fit badly with the capabilities of the Microsoft peripheral. The problem is that it was not a complete game as such, but a brief experience, reflecting the exhaustion of a way of doing things and certain internal problems that would end Molyneux outside the company that he himself had founded three decades before.
That’s when, despite the bad omens, Fable Legends came to the table as an asymmetric multiplayer action game for four players. Closed beta in 2014 and a really ambitious plan to launch on both Xbox One and PC. Everything seemed done, it was finished and it was going to adapt to a free to play business model. However, back in 2016, the delays ended up becoming not only the cancellation of the game but the closure of the studio itself. A true setback that was, in reality, the chronicle of an announced death. “After much consideration, we have decided to discontinue production of Fable Legends and are in discussions with workers for the closure of Lionhead Studios in the UK. We will also close Press Play Studios ”, they argued. A real jug of cold water that continues to hurt for five years later.
Flaming Flow Studios timidly took over with Fable Fortune in 2018, a title edited by Mediatonic that tried unsuccessfully to replicate works like Hearthstone. Beyond the anecdote and an endless number of renovations based on mallets and mechanics that did not finish curdling, last March the closure of its servers was announced. Another lower license.
And now that?
That an eventual new Fable may be on the way is something that comes from far away; however, Microsoft has not stated anything in this regard. After Fable III in 2010, the name of Peter Molyneux’s works has sounded a few times in the present generation. It has been speculated with the death of the rights of the series, with a possible contact with Playground Games (Forza Horizon) and, even, that it is The Initiative, the new internal first party study of Microsoft, which may be assuming this responsibility.
It is inevitable for us to resort to the famous statements of Microsoft last October 2017. Almost three years have passed, but we believe it pertinent to take those words as valuable considering who they come from. It was on GameSpot, during the week of celebration of the PAX Aus, when Shannon Loftis, of Xbox, said clearly that in the company they love the license of the British study; she was even immersed in the production of Fable 2.
“Fable catches me very closely and is very dear to me,” he said. The interesting thing came now: “In fact, one of the main reasons [por las que me mudé a Inglaterra] It was to work with the team on Fable II. […] We love IP. I cannot speak at the moment about whether we are doing something with it or not; if I ever get a chance to go back to Albion … ” Obviously, in his day these words gave rise to an endless number of speculations. Would we see it at E3 2018? Here we are still waiting.
We advance a little, now to 2018. January 17, Eurogamer drops a bomb: “Microsoft plans the return of Fable”. They alluded to having sources close to the information and assured that it is Playground who is in charge with more than 200 people working on it. In 2018 they published their latest video game, Forza Horizon 4; so far, there is no hypothetical Forza Horizon 5 announced, so much so that it is the turn of the Motorsport series. According to the British media, the project is so ambitious that it is divided into two teams, the second of which is in the new offices of Leamington Spa, in Warwickshire, England. There was one point highlighted in the report: it was a long-term project, not at all a title we were going to see that year or probably the next.
As early as May of last year, before E3 2019, there was speculation that it ended up being absolutely nothing. There was talk of a next-generation RPG project planned for 2021 with Playground Games at the controls in what would be a reboot. That NeoGAF post from a suspected insider was right on many things, not everything. He spoke of titles that did appear in the conference, only that he was definitely portrayed by pointing out aspects that, far from it, ended up happening. Neither Halo: Infinite nor Fable, nor Xbox Lockhart.
Finally, in October 2019, it was Respawn First who planted a new piece of rumor: Playground Games is working on two titles at the moment, an RPG and Forza Horizon 5. This data, rumor and no information at the moment, cohesive with the chain of previously mentioned media reports, as Fable would fit into the equation.
Is the solution a reboot? Should you bet on a fourth numbered installment? There are voices and tastes for everyone; There are those who believe that the best for the series is nothing more than a reboot, while others believe that not enough time has passed yet to make a clean slate and that the “IV” would not sit badly on the nomenclature. What is certain, and that is irreversible, is that Lionhead Studios no longer exists. Therefore, whoever studies this license will be a new team, different from the original works.
Microsoft has renewed applied to renew the ‘FABLE’ brand
The facts speak for themselves, however, and the Fable brand has recently been revamped. It all started on July 2, when we learned that Microsoft had expressly requested the renewal of this intellectual property. Does this mean that it will be used for commercial purposes? No. Does this mean that the Redmond company is still interested in safeguarding the rights of this IP for eventual use? Absolutely yes. The current status of the patent, dated June 26, is still pending approval under the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office).
Xbox Game Studios event this July 23: the future of Xbox Series X
We may get out of doubt this July 23. At least, we will know Microsoft’s immediate roadmap for the start of the impending new generation of consoles. Those of Redmond have warned that it will be that day at 18:00 (CEST) when the Xbox Games Showcase is held, with even an hour before to warm up engines. For now, we know that there will be titles like Halo: Infinite, which has also ensured that it is present in style.
The event, which we can follow live from FreeGameTips, will have as its main bulwark the work of 343 Industries, which has been in development for five years. But there will be more. Because Ninja Theory is developing that promising Senua’s Saga: Hellbade 2, because we know that Turn 10 Studios is working on a new Forza Motorsport and because the Xbox Game Studios team, a lineup of fifteen teams, have things going. Will we see what’s new from The Initiative? That remains to be seen, but if there is something that interests us especially, it is knowing more information about an Xbox Series X that promises to hit the market in late 2020 at a price still unknown. More than one in this newsroom would sign to release it with a new installment of Fable. However, as we said at the beginning of this special that now ends, for the moment we have to settle for a simple and deep desire.