The Xbox Games Showcase 2023 offered some of the first official Fable 4 information in several years. While it's not clear if actual game footage was shown off, the trailer was made in-engine and provided an idea of the look and style of Fable 4. That's to say, semi-dark fantasy that retains the style of previous Fable games with a next-generation coat of virtual paint.
Again, we're still pretty light on concrete details about Fable 4. But we know it's under development by Playground Games, who also made the excellent Forza Horizon 5. And Fable 4 will be about heroes choosing their own destiny in dryly amusing ways.
So while we wait for more details about what could be a very compelling RPG for the Xbox Series X and Series S, here's what we know about Fable 4 so far, with a heavy dose of speculation thrown in for good measure.
Fable 4 news and rumors
The Xbox Games Showcase 2023 gave us a new trailer for Fable 4, featuring a near-photorealistic version of British comedian and IT Crowd star Richard Ayoade, playing the role of Dave, a vegetable enthusiast.
In the trailer, Dave discussed how heroes get all the attention, hinting at how being a hero will feature in Fable 4, much like it has in previous Fable games. Aside from that and a few humorous moments, not much was given away in the trailer.
However, Lukas Koelz, a lead lighting artist at PlayGround Games working on Fable 4, noted that the footage in the latest trailer was actual game footage. It looks very impressive and could herald true next-gen graphics on the Xbox Series X.
We hope to find out more about Fable 4 as the year progresses, but we expect the likes of Starfield to steal the limelight until September comes and goes.
Fable 4 trailer
The latest Fable 4 trailer is steeped in British humor and uses in-game footage. If that's any indication of the graphics we could expect from Fable 4, then it may be a very good looking game indeed. Check the trailer out below.
Fable 4's first trailer doesn't give much away, though it could be in-engine footage, courtesy of the Xbox Series X's power. But we'd definitely expect an open-world game with an atmosphere that's steeped in British dark fairy tale tone.
Check out the debut trailer for Fable 4 below:
Fable 4 release date speculation
Before you rush to the comments to complain: no, we don’t know when Fable 4 is going to be released. All we know it's in development. Regardless, take this as a placeholder for future updates.
Fable 4 is being worked on but that's about all we know officially outside of two trailers.
We'd not be surprised if 2024 ends up being the rough release window for Fable 4. It will apparently arrive before The Elder Scrolls 6, but that game is almost certainly a couple of years or so away, so don't hold your breath for Fable 4 any time soon.
Fable 4 leaks and speculation
Aside from some minor tidbits of information, we've not had a big information drop about Fable 4 since 2019.
Some three years ago, 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 tyrant Lucien Fairfax.
One notable nugget of information comes in the form of a developer insider highlighting that Fable 4 will be an open-world RPG, not a massively multiplayer online game. There had been some worry that as the game's trailer teased a large world, it would be something in the vein of World of Warcraft.
But while there will be online elements, such as cooperative functionality or limited shared open spaces, the source behind the information told Windows Central that the game most definitely won't be an MMO. As such, we can expect it to be a game with a large world to explore yet with a strong single-player element to it; welcome news for dedicated fans of Fable.
In an interview with The Guardian, Microsoft head of studios Matt Booty noted that such MMO rumors stem from the idea that Fable 4 needs to do something new to the series to keep it fresh but not go too far off the beaten path. An MMO would be one such way to do this, but Fable 4 won’t go down that road.
“With any kind of franchise like that, where you’ve had existing versions, there’s always that balance between what you’re going to bring forward, what still stands up, and what you want to add that’s new,” Booty explained. “It’s like the challenge of making a new Star Wars movie—there’s stuff that everyone wants you to bring along, but then you’ve got a responsibility to that, to new places and I trust Playground has a good vision for that.”
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 as 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.
A brief tale of Fable
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, but thanks to the Xbox 20/20 games showcase, we now know Fable 4 is real and it's being developed by Playground Games.
Could this be a sing that more Fable games are to come? Well, we're not sure yet, but it's just nice to see the Fable series not get consigned to video fame history.
Fable 4 is actually happening
We had been fearful that despite all the above, Fable 4 wasn't going to happen. At least not any time soon; we'd previously said Microsoft isn’t done with the Fable series just yet, but we wouldn’t put much money on it... may be we should have.
The reason for those initial thoughts was that 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 compelling, it will 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.
So now that we know Fable 4 is real, we're quietly optimistic that it will give the Xbox Series X an ace in the hole. Time will tell, likely another 12 months or so.