FA­BLE LEG­ENDS

EDGE - - MICROSOFT - Pub­lisher Mi­crosoft De­vel­oper Lion­head For­mat Xbox One Re­lease 2015

Fa­ble has al­ways been that most Bri­tish of games, a charm­ingly fop­pish ri­poste to the broad griz­zled shoul­ders of Mi­crosoft’s US-cen­tric Xbox lineup. Yet the se­ries’ Xbox One de­but has seem­ingly been made with an out­sider’s view of the Scep­tred Isle. Its clum­sily an­i­mated cast – Ster­ling, the posho swords­man; Win­ter, the Home Coun­ties ice maiden; Rook, the Scot­tish ranger; and Inga, the West Coun­try tank – spout con­text-sen­si­tive wit­ti­cisms as they bat­tle across Al­bion’s fields and town­ships, but it’s hard to imag­ine a born-and-bred Brit sign­ing off on these ac­cents. The fi­nal game will, we’re told, fea­ture many more playable fighters than the slen­der se­lec­tion on of­fer on the show floor; here’s hop­ing the end prod­uct sports less jar­ring voice work.

Yet Lion­head has more fun­da­men­tal is­sues on its plate. Per­haps the big­gest of all is that one per­son in this five­player game has much more fun than the oth­ers. Fa­ble Leg­ends is at its best when you’re the vil­lain, lay­ing traps, rais­ing gates and spawn­ing beasts to thwart the gang of four. The as­so­ci­ated RTS con­trols have been smartly mapped to the Xbox One con­troller, which was the only way to play the game at E3 – pre­sum­ably to counter the as­sump­tion fol­low­ing Leg­ends’ un­veil­ing that villainy would be for SmartGlass play­ers only.

On the bat­tle­field, things are more messy, and we don’t just mean Lion­head’s sig­na­ture wonky an­i­ma­tion. The he­roes might have all the req­ui­site tools for the task at hand – Inga, for ex­am­ple, has a dodge roll, a right-trig­ger melee move, a shield for block­ing and bash­ing, a spell that pro­tects the group from ranged at­tacks, and a taunt to draw ag­gro – but us­ing them is woolly and un­sat­is­fy­ing. There’s no hit­stun, so en­e­mies wind up at­tacks while you’re ham­mer­ing away at them. That would be fine if you could only see what was go­ing on, but it’s hard to pick out move­ments when the screen is full of ar­tillery and sup­port spells. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion is of para­mount im­por­tance, but even the most or­gan­ised teams suf­fer from all the clut­ter.

Com­bat has never been the best thing about Fa­ble, yet for 80 per cent of play­ers, it’s all

Leg­ends has to of­fer. The se­ries’ trade­mark moral­ity sys­tem has been rel­e­gated to a menu op­tion, and, worse, has as good as been made for you by a de­sign team that has com­bined a ser­vice­able sin­gle­player RTS with a clunky four­player dun­geon crawler. A mul­ti­player beta is due later this year: ex­pect lengthy waits as ev­ery­one queues up to be the bad guy.

Fa­ble Leg­ends is unique among Mi­crosoft’s Xbox One lineup in Lion­head’s use of a third­party en­gine. While 343, Turn 10 and Rare have their own be­spoke tools, Lion­head favours Un­real En­gine 4

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