Fable 2: See the Future: First Impressions, Part One

Back in February, I played through Fable 2’s first batch of DLC and I thought it was “pretty forgetable. And that will leave me thinking twice about the next DLC – if there is anymore on the horizon.”

Well, there was more on the horizon, but when it was released I didn’t think twice. I picked up See the Future the day it came out. And the first impression?

So far, I love it. Sad to say, but I think the reason I was so down on Knothole Island was because of the question of cost versus content – as in, it was short and expensive, for DLC. It feels like Lionhead went the other route this time, releasing a pretty lengthy, substantial download for a very fair price.

The first thing that happens when you install the DLC is that a trader by the name of Murgo shows up in the docks of the Bowerstone Market. He sells you a cursed snowglobe. Use the globe, and you get sucked into it – and a decent length adventure.

The Cursed Snowglobe Mission

On the inside, you find yourself in a black-n-white world. The culprits? Brightly-colored (yet shadowy) figures who are sucking the color from the world.

The creatures are blue, yellow, or red. And though I picked up that my skill-focused hero was yellow, my gun was yellow, and my blade was blue – I didn’t quite catch on to the fact that the three prime skills were coming into play with the world’s coloring. In other words, blue shadows can only be defeated with melee weaponry, red shadows with magic, and yellow shadows with ranged weaponry. As an additional clue, the blue shadows use melee weapons themselves, the yellow shadows fire guns, and the red shadows use magic (which is quite awesome since no other monsters use time control magic; it makes them quite fearsome).

And I have to laugh at myself for not picking up on it much more quickly. In QA at BioWare, if the designers had pulled something like this I would have criticized them for accusing the gamers of being imbeciles. They would have responded that you can never be clear enough, and they would have been right. Yes, I will admit that I spent at least 20 seconds shooting at the blue shadows before realizing that I had to match blue-with-blue and use the melee weapon. Duh! 🙂

The rest of the globe world consists of pressing forward, fighting through the waves of monsters before defeating the final encounter and restoring color to the world.

The Cursed Skull Mission

Back at the market, Murgo now offers to sell you a cursed skull. Using the skull transports you to an errie land of the dead. When you arrive, an actual, giant skull tells you that it’s trapped and only a hero can rescue it. It begs you to travel through the area to find wisps, and bring them back to him.

The wisps themselves are trapped in various locations that are sealed by magic statues. The statues, like statues in Fable 2’s main adventure, require you to do a specific pose – matching the appearance of the statue. However, the extra twist here is that you have to wear a specific costume, too. For example, you might have to dress as a Hobbe and then do the point-and-laugh emote.

The brunt of this quest entails getting three costumes and proceeding through the magically-locked doors to the wisps, then leading them back to the skull – while fighting monsters all along the way. Like the snowglobe, the map is well designed and looks great (much like Knothole Island, actually; both DLCs ramp up the pretty factor). And also like the snowglobe, the mood and setting were particularly well done.

When I commented on wanting some new game mechanic or twist, in Knothole Island, this is exactly what I meant. In other words, while Knothole Island was fun and looked great, it felt like more of the same. See the Future, with the multi-colored shadows and costumes impacting the quests, felt like something new.

More Still to Come!

I’ve spent a bit of time playing today between the two aforementioned adventures, but I haven’t seen all the content. I think I spent too much time collecting all the hidden dye and statues in order to get achievements (I’m up to 50 achievements now). :p

There are, apparently, three major facets to this piece of DLC – the first two the snowglobe and skull, with the third piece the Colliseum. I will make sure to write up a second review as soon as I get to it.

A Fable 2 Retrospective?

First, I have to admit that See the Future has completely renewed my interest in Fable 2.

After beating Fable 2, I started up a second game but started playing other games and forgot about Fable. In anticipation of playing the new DLC, I fired my second playthrough up again to strengthen my character a little. Then, after I got the DLC, I was too caught up in the main quest to check out the new content. Finally, after first meeting up with the Hero of Skill and acing every round of the Crucible (all perfects, 762 seconds total I think), I decided to check out the new DLC. Which, in turn, has gotten me more into simply playing Fable 2 – as opposed to a desire to burn through the new content and quit.

Yes, after this surge of playing I’m reminded of many of the things that seem like they should be flaws: the easy combat, the gobs of money and nothing to spend it on but expensive houses which only generate more money, the shallow interaction with people, the limited character development and ease of experience-point gains, and so on – but somehow it doesn’t matter. It’s just too much “casual” fun.

It really is a game that has a great level of depth to it, but that you can pick up and play for short stints or long ones.

I especially love that all of the missions can be finished in something like 30 minutes. Since you cannot save during a mission, the shorter duration never leaves you feeling like you’re trapped in a lengthy quest and needing to set aside blocks of time to play. Similarly, the fact that you earn money even when you’re not playing is a brilliant design decision as it encourages you to get back to the game – if only to see how much money you’ve earned (again, even though there’s nothing to buy, but that doesn’t even matter) and buy a few more houses with your new stash of wealth.

Fable 1 did a lot of things right, but there are some huge improvements in terms of the gameplay between 1 and 2. It’s impressive.

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