- Fable has never had complete character customization, but it may be a good addition to modernize the franchise and attract new players.
- The lack of representation in terms of race, ethnicity, body type, and gender identity options in Fable is ironic given the game’s emphasis on freedom and personal choices. Adding deeper customization could make the new Fable exciting from the start.
- However, character customization could undermine the unique aspect of the series where the player-character’s appearance changes based on their choices, combat, and leveling. Finding a middle ground between full character customization and maintaining the traditional appearance changes would be ideal.
Despite its focus on freedom and personalization, the Fable franchise has never allowed for complete, traditional character customization, at least not in the same way as most western RPGs. It’s clear that Fable has a lot of potential, but it also must perform a bit of a tightrope act, finding the perfect balance between revitalizing the singular charm and style of the classic franchise while modernizing it for the current generation. In service of this end, Playground Games may opt for full character customization, which could be a mixed bag.
Details about the newest Fable game remain sparse, with some reports pointing to potential issues in development. These problems are generally attributed to the fact that Playground Games, previously best known for its work on the Forza Horizon racing game series, has been handed the reins to the game’s development. The fact that Playground Games has not only never worked on a Fable game, but has never worked on an adventure or RPG game in general, has led many to wonder just how much the final product will differ from Lionhead’s original trilogy. Whether Playground Games reintroduces old Fable features or totally overhauls the series’ foundation, some degree of significant change is inevitable, and this may extend to character customization.
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The Pros and Cons of Adding Character Customization to Fable
Why Character Customization in Fable Could Work
More than most RPGs, the Fable games are about expression and character-building. Indeed, with key franchise features like marriage, property management, and aging, it wouldn’t be too outlandish to say that the original Fable trilogy is something akin to a life-sim title melded with high-adventure fantasy. Given this core element of the franchise’s identity, character customization would simply make sense.
There’s also the question of representation and bringing new players into the fold. It’s been almost fourteen years since Fable 3 launched, and although it is often considered one of the best Xbox 360 games, it certainly shows its age. The fact that the game touts total freedom in terms of moral choice, sexuality, and lifestyle, yet lacks the option to play as a person of color, is rather ironic. Gaming audiences have grown, both in disposition and in terms of demographics, over the course of the past two console generations, and character customization could allow for a better role-playing experience, especially for those who may feel alienated by a lack of race, ethnicity, body type, or gender identity options.
The Case Against Character Customization
When considering representation and RPG conventions, it seems like character customization in Fable is a no-brainer. However, unlike other key Fable features that should simply be expanded to compete with modern gaming standards, character customization would represent a marked shift in identity for the series. This is because of the franchise’s tradition of forcing a change in the player-character’s appearance in accordance with their choices.
For example, making evil choices in Fable games will lead to the protagonist getting darker hair, red eyes, and horns, while walking a path of purity and righteousness will result in a saintly halo being formed. Combat and leveling will also impact the player-character’s appearance, with gunplay causing a character to grow taller, melee adding muscle, and magic creating a mystical web of blue veins across the skin. This is one of the most unique aspects of the Fable series, and character customization could undermine it.
With these pros and cons in mind, it would perhaps be best for Playground games to find a happy medium when it comes to character customization. Instead of full freedom with character creation, players could simply make a base character which would then be shaped by the gameplay. At the very least, the option to change the player-character’s race seems like a fairly easy and highly beneficial feature to add in the next Fable.
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