Preview: Fable Fortune – A solid foundation

Fable Fortune was announced all the way back in May 2016, shortly after Lionhead (the studio which developed the previous Fable games) was shut down for good. It had been in development for 18 months at the time, and the team decided to form a new company and continue working on the game instead of letting all of their hard work go to waste. They managed to secure permission from Microsoft to continue using the Fable license and funding for the game, leading us to where we are today. With well over two and a half years of development under its belt, there’s a simple question to be asked about it: is Fable Fortune worth your time?

The answer to that depends on a couple of smaller questions. Do you like Fable? If so, this game was made for you. Even if you might dislike some of the later entries in the series but still enjoy the world that Peter Molyneux and his team created, this game gives you another chance to feel some of the magic once again. Do you like Hearthstone? If not, you’re not going to enjoy Fable Fortune. More on that later. Finally, do you mind paying money for an unfinished game that will go free to play upon completion? You’ll want to wait a bit longer to look into it if you do.

Is Fable Fortune worth your time?

Fable Fortune is a card game that’s filled with what I loved about the world of Albion. The overall feel, the art, the music, all of it is very distinctly Fable. All of that lies on top of a core game that is very familiar for a different reason: it plays a lot like Hearthstone. This isn’t necessarily a negative thing depending on your tastes, but it’s quite clear from the very first training round you play and onward that the main gameplay isn’t too original.

For those who aren’t familiar with how Hearthstone plays, two players start the game off with a deck of cards, with each card requiring a certain amount of points to be played. Your maximum points while go up as the match progresses, allowing you to play stronger and stronger cards. Some cards are exclusive to certain hero characters, and each hero also has a special ability they can use in battle. I’ve just described the core gameplay of Fable Fortune.

Fable Fortune is a card game that’s filled with what I loved about the world of Albion.

It’s a good thing I just did, too, because the game doesn’t right now. This is still a Game Preview title that’s got a long way to go with its development, even if there’s still plenty of fun to be had with it right now. Trying to figure things out on my own wasn’t too difficult, but my (rusty) Hearthstone skills let me figure out the basics immediately.

While Game Preview status does bring along some issues like missing features, Fable Fortune managed to dodge optimization issues so far. I’ve yet to have any performance related issues on either my office PC or my Xbox One, and while I’m yet to test this game on a laptop I doubt that it would have too many problems on lower end hardware either.

Fable Fortune does add its own ideas to the mix to spice things up, but at this point in time they’re fantastic ideas which have decent execution. The main thing you’ll notice is that when starting a match you have to choose from one of three quests. These quests are basic – for example, one is only simply spending gold on units. Once each quest is completed you’ll have two possible resolutions to it: a good option and an evil option. The results of these options vary depending on the character you’re using, but they modify their ability. As a general rule, the good options simply strengthen the ability while the evil options will often add life draining to them.

The good and evil options will change your character’s art as well, which is a nice touch. It’s fun to explore each option to see just how your character will look after using it, but I was let down to find out the good and evil designs stay the same after completing more quests despite the fact there’s three morality levels. While it isn’t necessary, getting to see your character evolve throughout the entire match instead of just the beginning would be a satisfying touch.

They’re fantastic ideas which have decent execution.

Completing each quest will also reward you with a spell card, which also leads into an issue I have with them: each quest choice has the same reward. I never felt any incentive to choose one of the more difficult quests when I knew I’d get the exact same results by picking the easiest one each and every time. Seeing some more variety in both the quests and their rewards might seem like a simple change on paper, but I have a feeling that it would help make each match much more interesting.

There’s currently three modes in the game. A training mode which lets you challenge the AI, an online PVP mode, and a co-op mode which pits two players against a boss. All of them are enjoyable, although it would be nice to have the option to chat with the other person you’re playing with. The co-op mode does balance out the lack of in-game chat by letting you point to cards or units when it isn’t your turn, allowing your silent ally to both send and receive some tactical brilliance – for better or worse.

A noteworthy omission from the current version of the game – although it’s currently on the development roadmap – is the ability to invite your friends to a game. While it is in the works and coming soon, it’s worth keeping in mind if you’re considering telling a friend about the game in the hopes you’ll get to play together the next day.

I do believe this is a game that will be worth playing with that friend, though. By the time that feature arrives Fable Fortune will likely have more than enough changes to smooth out its issues, have more of its own gameplay identity, and maybe even become a game that I can recommend to people who know nothing about the franchise it’s based on. What we have already is a fun game with flaws that come with releasing a game that’s still in development, and I’m excited to watch it grow.

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