The bad guys are always the most interesting characters in stories. The Joker, Walter White, Tony Soprano, Magneto, we could go on because everyone loves bad guys. Lionhead Studios is well aware of this and their latest release, Fable Legends, lets players take on the role of the villain, and stack the deck against the band of heroes to totally annihilate them.
On one side of the game you have up to four players taking on the role of the heroes. They all have their strengths and weaknesses and range from a dashing Prince Charming type to a deadly Red Sonja-esque warrior. These players go through the game in the classic third person view of the “Fable” series, but playing as the villain gives one a different perspective of the game’s levels, literally.
As the villain, players see the world from the top down, like in your favorite RTS. Before each match starts, the villain is given anywhere from 60 to 90 seconds to fully set up the map how you wish, from moving units to one spot to placing traps in unsuspecting locations. The units at your disposal include a group of orc-like creatures, some bowman, one creature with an especially deadly artillery, as well as an assassin. Each of the characters can be moved around the map with the simple push of a button and they each have a special ability that is achieved simply by pressing the right trigger along with their corresponding button.
When the first round of the demo began, I waited for the players to enter and when they did I sent a legion of goons after them and rained a storm of arrows on top of them. I cant speak to how it looked from their angle, but from above it was a satisfying and brutal attack. As the group progressed through the level was when I really got a mastery of the controls. In some instances on the map the villain is capable of raising up a gate, and if you time it right you can separate the group from each other. Divide and conquer.
The heroes made it through the end of the first round, though not without some scars, and as round two began, I picked up some mines already set on the map and stacked them right at the entrance. I was banking on the other players being cocky and not looking at their surroundings, and it worked. As soon as the players entered it was like they made a beeline directly toward the mines. Combine that with some artillery shots and bam, two of them were incapacitated at the start.
As the group gathered together and continued further into the keep, I did my best to spread them apart by raising some of the gates and trapping them in corners when possible. If you can incapacitate the healer of the group and trap him inside a room then youre on your way to maniacally laughing over their corpses.
Just when it looked like the players might make it out alive, they approached the final door and my very own troll emerged to fight them. Though he moved quite slow, the troll features enhanced attack and health from the other units on the board and utilizing support units and some trickery against the heroes was when I realized that apparently this game had quickly turned me into a super villain.
Fable Legends is the kind of video game that Dungeons & Dragons players see in their heads. While some are banded together in a heroic pose, looting dungeons and fighting monsters, another is setting up the game and creating a world of challenges for the players. This is the kind of game Ive been waiting for, and I cant wait to embrace the dark side. Its fun, exciting, and its asymmetrical multiplayer is one of the most exciting things Ive seen from a fantasy game in years.
Fable Legends will debut exclusively on the Xbox One in 2015.