The always charming Peter Molyneux took some time during yesterday's Xbox 360 Spring Showcase to walk folks through Fable 2. Specifically he was showing off the game's entire introduction, talking up the free roaming in the game a bit more and showing a little bit of fighting customisation.
"We're going to be talking about Fable 2 today of course, next time I meet you we will be talking about our next new project, but today it's about Fable 2," he said. "It's going to be full of bugs and you're going to write some pretty horrible things about it, but it's about time that I show you what the game will feel like from the beginning."
In the Beginning
The game of Fable 2 has an elegant beginning, a cut-scene that follows a bird from a forest to a town, where it lands on a ledge and takes a poop.
"We take a dramatic camera angel and follow that poop until it lands on your head, and that's how it starts," Molyneux said. "It's a lovely starting."
The game begins with you as a little kid in a slum, totally powerless, learning both the city and your controls. Molyneux calls it a half hour of charm.
"My dream is to tell a story you fucking remember," he said. "I want you to remember it, i want it to stay in your mind. How do i do that? I steal a bunch of stuff from my favourite things."
The screen is relatively HUD free, instead most of what you need to know is shown contextually. There is a breadcrumb trail, for instance, that appears on the ground to show you where you need to go next to complete your current missions.
"It's like an in-car navigation system without a voice."
Almost all cut-scenes are interactive in the game, in fact there is less than five minutes worth of non-interactive cut-scenes in the entire game. During the rest of them you can react, by using your D-pad to perform expressions, laugh, frown, even fart when someone is talking. You can evil kill a person in the middle of a cut-scene, cutting it short and drastically changing the missions, Molyneux said.
These choices are what help shape the world, changing it from something created by developers to something very personal. And such choices have drastic repercussions as the years pass, changing not just your character and his or her appearance, but the look of the town, even the region.
"The cool thing about Fable 2 is that it's a role-playing game set in a simulated world," Molyneux said.
The entire world is free roaming too and everywhere in the world can be owned by the player.
Molyneux showed how this world lives even when the main character isn't around. He slipped through the hills and trees of one region until he discovered a gypsy camp. In it the women were dancing, the kids playing, heedless of not having an audience to react to.
"These kids will play out the whole of the fable one story, it's just what they do," he said, following around a pack of children with the camera. "They will be mock fighting, it's a little play they will play. They will go out and kill Jack of Blades. If you get famous enough they'll start acting out what you've done in Fable 2."
Moral choices make a return in Fable 2, but this time around, Molyneux said, they will actually work the way he said they would.
"We made a rubbish job of that in Fable one, there were a couple of moral choices in Fable one but it wasn't what we said it would be," he said. "There are an enormous number of moral choices this time around. To be a good guy we are going to ask you to sacrifice a lot."
The fighting system in the game will be as customizable as the world and your character, Molyneux said.
"You can add flourishes with button holds, you can add contextual buttons, your whole combat system is unique to you," he said.
Each of the buttons will have 15 things you can tie to it. There are eight spells in the game, each with five levels. While that doesn't sound like a lot, Molyneux said that the combination of these different things can make for quite a few different iterations.
"It's truly a dynamic combat system," he said.
There is also the dog, who will help you fight and stay by your side, but as Molyneux has said before, that's really not the point of your pet.
"He is just your dog, he's there for you to enjoy."
Molyneux told us about a play test the team did with a biker, a man who at one point was "absolutely in tears" because of a scene involving his dog.
"That's why he is there."
Molyneux wrapped up the demo by quickly showing how easy it is to drop into a cooperative game with a friend and teasing a yet to be announced secret about co-op play.
"There is another big surprise, a very big surprise about co-oping," he said, before adding that Fable 2 is a "Hell of a game."