Fable II is one of the best games we've played this year and rightly sits highly in the Xbox 360 hall of fame. It lets you be the hero you want to be, performing good or bad deeds, specialise in certain areas of combat and start a family. Choices in a video game have never been so important, but being the ungrateful lot that we are, we're already licking our lips in anticipation of the inevitable Fable III. Desperate for it to be the greatest game ever made (and score a perfect 10 review) we knocked our morally ambiguous heads together and came up with our Top 10: Ideas that will make Fable III a masterpiece.
Combat in Fable II is split between weapons (melee and ranged) and magic. Neither requires much skill. We know Lionhead wanted to create a game that everyone could play, but a steeper challenge and a more complex combat system would go down very nicely in Fable III. It's not essential, and we'd probably settle for a much improved targeting system, but something between the button-mashing combat of Fable II and the complexities of Ninja Gaiden would be brilliant. Some improvements to the magic casting system would also be welcome as the way you organise your spells in Falbe II is a little clunky - not being able to instantly access your most powerful spells did get a little irritating.
9. No loading
This is something we got used to in Fable II, but the loading screens are annoyingly long and too frequent. In Fable II when you walk to the edge of an area you're then teleported to a new area and told how long it would have taken if you were to do the job on foot, which isn't an option. They're basically separate levels - there's no open world walking here, and there's no sense that you've actually travelled there. One area might well look completely different to the next, but you don't get to see how the landscape and environment gradually changes. We're incredibly picky, so we still want the incredibly useful quick travelling, but being able to freely wander about without a loading screen popping up would give Fable III a grander sense of scale. Basically, we want places to be linked by real land we can actually travel through.
8. Better performing game engine
There's no denying that Fable II looks wonderful, with a superb fairy-tale aesthetic and more character than most games can dream of, but it's full of technical problems. The frame rate drops to sluggish levels frequently, your character's animations and those of the NPCs aren't great, and your dog will warp on top of objects far too often. There's also a tonne of detail you'll see being drawn in as you move through the environments, like grass, and the water and splash effects are among the worst we've seen in some time, and they slow down things terribly. The art-style can't be bettered, but we hope the sequel is more polished all-round.
7. Multi-hero co-op
Co-op in Fable II is a wonderful thing, opening up emergent gameplay that will be unique for everyone (in one game you might have a human henchman who disobeys you and slaughters a string of villagers, getting you in dire trouble with the law), but it's not what many people wanted it to be. For a start it's limited to two players. And secondly, the henchman isn't your partner's proper character - it's just someone they play as that can transfer gold back to your proper character. In Fable III we want at least four characters to be able to team up. We also want to go into other people's worlds with our own hero - not a henchman. We want random online gamers to see our unique hero, complete with ridiculous coat and wizard hat.
6. Bigger, badder, more exciting and fantastical enemies
You fight some great enemies in Fable II, but considering this is a game in a fantasy world, there's room for so much more. We want truly epic enemy encounters, the likes of which you rarely see in video games. We're talking about dragons the size of boats, trolls (not tree trolls, proper green ones) as tall as houses and other mythical beasts. Slaying beasts is one of the things you instantly associate with mythical heroes, and we would love some traditional fairy tale beast slaying quests in Fable III. If Lionhead can make these things the size of the biggest colossi in Shadow of the Colossus Fable III could be the greatest game ever.
5. Mounts and more pets
Ask anyone about what they love doing in Oblivion, and there's a good chance they'll mention riding a horse across the open landscape. Fable II has nothing in the way of mounts, but if Fable III is going to be bigger and more open you're going to need something to get around on. A horse is the obvious choice, but what about a flying dog like Falkor from The Never Ending Story? How amazing would that be? Speaking of animals, it'd be good to have more pets. We're fond of monkeys, so we want to be able to play with one at our side in battle, and maybe a parrot for comedy value - Fable II has already touched on the pirate theme so it's not too much of a stretch.
4. Improved ageing
Fable and Fable II are all about your character, with you as the player determining whether your hero becomes good or bad. This is handled exceedingly well in Fable II, but the way your character ages isn't. Just as in the original game you start as a child, but are then whisked forward in time to being an adult. There's no real progression. In Fable III we want to see our character grow, shaped by our decisions and the things we do. It'll be hard to turn childhood into a fun section of gameplay but we think Lionhead can do it. If they can come up with a way to grow old, that would be great too.
3. Make the player care about more NPCs
You can start a family in Fable II - you can have multiple families if you want. That's great, and you can get really quite attached if you spend a lot of time with them, but everyone else in the world means nothing to you. Considering Fable II already has a brilliant family system and a faithful dog companion, we want friends in Fable III. These NPCs will eventually fight with you on your adventures, living and dieing based on your actions and how well you've prepared them for battle - perhaps even going behind your back to have an affair with your wife if you let them spend too much time together. We essentially want the world of Fable III to feel more alive, and having friends is a good place to start.
2. Open World
Fable II is set in a large world, but it's got nothing on the open-endedness of Bethesda's ginormous Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Areas predominantly have one path to follow, with the odd path off to one side to explore if you wish - there's very little in the way of true exploring. Even little things like not being able to walk up a knoll that's barely taller than your dog start to grate after a while in Fable II - there's no jumping in the game - and a little more freedom to go wherever you please would help the sequel no end.
1. A bigger game
Fable II isn't short. The main quest will take around 14 hours to get through, and there's tons more to do before and after the end credits, but it still felt quite short for what is built up during the game to be an epic story. Games like Oblivion have spoilt us somewhat, but we just want more. Getting to the end should feel like an achievement and something only a true hero can do. With Fable II the end is signposted from almost the very beginning and from then on it always felt like it was just around the corner. Fable II is full of quests but we want Fable III to be a real adventure.
What do you think about our suggestions for Fable III? Should Peter Molyneux hire us as game designers? Let us know in the comments section below.