What Fable 4 Can Learn From The Witcher’s Success
Fable and The Witcher may have very different tones, but there’s still a lot The Witcher 3 can teach Fable 4 about modern third-person RPGs.
The last Fable game released over a decade ago, but with Fable 4 promising to reboot the series many fans of the franchise are wondering how it will hold up in the 2020s. When looking at third-person fantasy RPGs that could steer the game in the right direction, it’s hard to go wrong with CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
The Witcher 3 may have a very different tone to the Fable games, but there are some great design principles it employs that could set Fable 4 on the right track as it attempts to relaunch in a new generation. Here’s a breakdown of what The Witcher can teach Fable.
Questing And Roleplay In An Open World
Fable 4 will be an open-world game. That means fans can expect the main questline to drive them through the story beside a myriad of optional side quests throughout the world. While The Witcher‘s bleak, brutal universe might not provide Fable will much guidance regarding its setting, the way the CDPR game balances its main quests and side quests in its open world could.
In many RPGs, including Fable 3, the player’s main motivation for completing side quests is usually meta rather than motivated in-universe it’s content for the player to see in the game. In the context of the main quest’s high stakes, this can undermine immersion, with the hero running around an open world running errands while that world risks being destroyed. The Witcher 3 makes its side missions make total sense in terms of Geralt’s character and needs. Many of them are witcher contracts, which throughout all the Witcher stories Geralt needs to complete for bed and board. The same is true in The Witcher 3 while Geralt is searching for Ciri. Not only that, but Ciri feels far enough away for most of the main quest that it doesn’t seem immersion-breaking to slow down and explore the game’s different regions.
Fable 4 would do well to find a similar way to make its side quests feel as story-motivated as its main quests. It’s unlikely the next Fable‘s protagonist will be a monster-hunter like Geralt of Rivia, but getting the pacing of Fable 4‘s plot right and finding ways to motivate players to complete side missions in character could help bring the game’s world to life in a way many RPGs struggle to.
Characters And Moral Conundrums
The Witcher 3 does a similarly great job integrating its relationships into the main quest in a way that feels like a step up from older third-person RPGs. Fable 3‘s marriage system was pretty bare-bones, more mechanical than a real story. In contrast, The Witcher 3‘s romance options appear organically throughout the main story, and the characters involved are all central to the plot rather than feeling like part of an optional side-mechanic. This also applies to non-romantic relationships secondary Witcher characters like Dandelion aren’t isolated to side quests but occupy smaller roles in an overarching story.
When it comes to moral decisions, The Witcher 3 rarely lets the player feel confident that they’ve made the right choice. In contrast, the original Fable games often made it very clear which path was good and which was evil. Players should still have the choice to become a cackling tyrant in Fable 4 if they want to, but if Fable 4 is going to immerse players in its major decisions as well as The Witcher 3, it needs to take notes from some of The Witcher‘s most morally ambiguous quests and characters.
Fable may be a very different franchise than The Witcher, but The Witcher 3 still stands out as one of the best-executed third-person fantasy RPGs to come out in the eleven years since Fable 3. With little news from Playground games since Fable 4‘s announcement, however, the new game could be taking the series in a completely unexpected direction.
Fable 4 is currently in development for PC and Xbox Series X/S.