Stop the presses. Microsoft has announced that Fable Legends, the asymmetrical multiplayer next chapter of Lionhead's parody RPG franchise, will be free to play on Windows 10 and Xbox One.
No, not just available as a demo. F2P.
"You’ll be able to play Fable Legends from beginning-to-end without spending a penny," proclaims the announcement. "That means you’ll have access to the entirety of Fable Legends’ storyline and all of the quests we release this year and forever. Everything in Fable Legends that affects gameplay can be earned by simply playing the game."
There will of course be a premium currency, but otherwise you're free to take on the role of hero or villain for nothing.
Which is absolutely fantastic news, because to be perfectly honest we'd completely lost interest.
Fable Legends' choice of F2P model is interesting, since it most closely resembles League Of Legends or SMITE in terms of structure. "We’ll be launching Fable Legends with a wide array of unique Heroes," Lionhead explains. "At any time, there will be four of these Heroes available to play for free. We will rotate the four Heroes available on free rotation, so you’ll have a chance to play them all!
"Any progress you make with a Hero will be saved, and you’ll be able to pick up where you left off when they appear next on the free rotation. If you find a Hero you love, you can play them whenever you like by unlocking them with Silver or Gold. Once you’ve done that, they’re yours forever." Villains, meanwhile, can use silver or gold to recruit monsters and traps to harass heroes with.
Naturally you'll be able to pick up your progress on either a Windows 10 PC or Xbox One due to Fable Legends' cross-play. The fact that it's locked to Windows 10 is aggravating, but I suppose you can think of it as the new Minesweeper.
I daresay that there'll be some knee-jerk backlash (again, the Windows 10 requirement is... perplexing), but as far as we're concerned, the switch to F2P is a great move. Partly it's a neat extra incentive for gamers buying an Xbox One or considering upgrading to Windows 10, but to be brutally honest, we would never have paid good money to pre-order it and now we won't have to.
Why? Why so harsh, Jon? Two reasons: first of all, Fable Legends has 'spin-off' written all over it, taking an RPG formula and giving it an asymmetrical multiplayer twist that literally no-one in the entire world asked for. Evolve's player numbers are already dropping off mere days after launch; it's a niche genre that only appeals to a small and passionate audience. But whereas Evolve made a big mistake by asking £54.99 for the privilege, Fable Legends has now sidestepped that thorny issue completely, releasing its content at the appropriate price of nothing.
But the second point is just as important: we've had enough of Fable. The series has run far longer than it should; it's a parody that plays itself straight, a joke that wore itself out years ago, a setting that's impossible to care about. A generic poorly fleshed-out universe full of one-note characters with literally THE WORST VOICE ACTING SINCE HOUSE OF THE DEAD 2. Americans don't hear it, but to us Brits, it's like nails on a chalkboard.
Apart from Steven Fry. Sorry, Steven. We love you Steven.
We don't need any more Fable, especially now that its original creator has fallen from grace and Lionhead ought to be moving on. But hey, if it's free, we'll probably try it out.
Who knows, perhaps we'll love it? At least we'll now be able to find out.