It looks like Fable 4 is real and coming to PC. If that’s true, it’ll arrive against the unlikeliest of backdrops, with its original creators scattered to the four winds, and the series mostly dormant for the best part of a decade. Not to mention the spotty history of platform choice which meant that the series’ finest hour, Fable II, never left the Xbox. But thanks to the efforts of a new developer and Microsoft’s new policy of releasing first-party exclusives on Windows 10, we’re now confident that chicken chasing is back on the schedule.
There’s still a lot we don’t know about Fable 4, but we’ve got enough to start working out what form it’ll take. In the absence of an official announcement, we’re leaning on plenty of rumour and some of the sleuthing we’ve done ourselves into job listings.
Join us while we dig through the details, discuss what’s likely, and gush openly about what would be wonderful to see in Fable 4.
Hey, we didn’t think we’d ever see this one happen. We’re enjoying it.
Fable 4 release date
An E3 announcement would mark the first formal acknowledgement of Fable 4 from Microsoft, which means no release date is currently forthcoming. The information we do have on the team we believe to be working on the game, however, suggests it’s still early in development - so don’t pack for Albion just yet.
Fable 4 E3 2018
Microsoft will hold their usual Xbox briefing just before E3 starts, on Sunday 10 June at 21:00 BST. That’s the place where they reveal all the new games designed to lure players over to the Xbox One and, more pertinently for us, Windows 10.
A new Fable would be a much-needed coup for Microsoft at this stage, and give console gamers a reason to think twice about buying a PS4 Pro for Horizon Zero Dawn instead. In that sense at least, there’s absolutely no reason why we wouldn’t see a Fable 4 at E3.
If not for the fact that there was a Fable game scheduled for Windows 10 already, Legends, but it was cancelled before ever leaving beta, taking beloved developer Lionhead with it. That would put paid to any chance of another sequel, you would think. But there have been whisperings to suggest otherwise...
Fable 4 rumours
We’ve got the name of a new developer. Lionhead might have been sadly beheaded just a couple of years ago, but reliable leaker Klobrille says that a different UK studio is working on a Fable sequel. Eurogamer, meanwhile, have sources who go one further, claiming the Leamington Spa-based Playground Games is behind Fable 4.
Playground are responsible for Forza Horizon, so have plenty of open-world expertise in-house. None at all with RPGs, of course, but they did open a new studio last year to work on an “open-world action RPG”, according to Gamesindustry.biz. Among their new hires are veterans of Kojima Productions and Rockstar North, which sounds like a potent mix for any open world Fable.
That said, as of May 2018, Playground were still advertising for a creative director and technical director at their new studio. Those are pretty crucial roles for any project, so if we do get a glimpse of Fable 4 at E3, it might not be representative of the final product. But hey: since when does Fable come out exactly as it was first pitched?
Fable 4 gameplay
Skyrim. Dragon Age: Inquisition. The Witcher 3. That’s just a shortlist of the open-world RPGs that have come out since Fable III. The genre has transformed, and in many ways surpassed anything Lionhead ever built. Fable 4 would need to take new strides to catch up to the reactivity of CD Projekt or the palpable atmosphere of Bethesda. That’s not really optional: new standards have been set.
There’s also an opportunity, however. In chasing after the depth and detail of Skyrim, open-world games have started to become more ponderous and less focused. Even Far Cry 5 has side quests and fishing. But Fable II stood out because it offered the fantasy of setting out on an adventure, trekking over rolling hills, defeating a band of hobbes in a mine, and then returning to town all within about 20 minutes. If Fable 4 can boil down the thrills of contemporary RPGs in a more accessible form, it could repeat the sale successes of its predecessors - especially if it can do so in co-op.
What’s more, Fable 4 gets to be something very few RPGs are: genuinely funny. Pillars of Eternity II might take place on the water, but the best you’ll get from it are extremely dry jokes. Fable is willing to mess about with chickens, farts, and playground insults. It’s time for Playground Games to earn their name.