If Peter Molyneux’s popularity has been hurt by his tendency to over-promise, then it was not evident at GDC, where an obligingly rapt audience had queued round the block in order to hear the latest on Lionhead’s sequel to the Xbox’s action RPG. Nor did Molyneux’s propensity for making large claims appear diminished, labeling his talk, ‘Fable 2 – The Big Three Features Revealed.’ It turns out that Fable 2 will have drama, combat and co-op. Who would have guessed?
Of course, Molyneux’s grandstanding aside, it is not the presence of those features but the manner of their implementation that is remarkable. Molyneux has spoken before about putting an entire combat system on one button, and here he reiterated his desire for anyone, even someone who has never touched a joystick before, to be able to pick up and play Fable 2 immediately. It turns out that there are now three buttons – one for melee attack, one for ranged weaponry and one for magic. A game-naïve person might be able to trounce a pack of enemies using only one, but the number of experience points you get from each victory increases as you mix combat styles and use the environment to best effect. And given that combat is entirely context sensitive in Fable 2 the environment becomes an essential part of your arsenal; stand near a wall, hit the melee button and you might flip off it to slam a knee into an enemy’s face. Attack whilst near an object lying on the floor and your character will kick it into someone’s stomach.