Ardent PC gamers won't have set foot in Albion for some time. Fable II didn't make it any further than the 360, after all, meaning that the last Fable outing to grace the PC was the original, back in 2004. The third entry in Peter Molyneux's ambitious series has been a long time coming, and Lionhead Studios wants to make sure it's been worth the wait. An in-depth critique of what to expect from quests, structure, narrative and the such - a review, as it's commonly known - can be found here, but for all the new gubbins specific to the PC version, you're in the right place.
Fable III for the PC has been built from the ground up with the computer crowd in mind. As such, there are several things that separate it from its console sibling. A common complaint with the 360 version was that Lionhead had gone overboard with accessibility. Not only were menus, tech-trees and combat strategies stripped back to a bare minimum, but the game was also distressingly easy. Let's be clear: this is still the same user-friendly Fable III experience, but it's also a lot harder - if you want it to be, that is.
Many people - myself included - completed Fable III on the 360 without suffering a single death. During my two hour stint with the PC version, however, I was knocked out an impressive eight times. This is not because I suddenly became afflicted with incompetence, or was struggling with the keyboard and mouse, but because the game comes complete with an all-new hardcore mode. This means stronger enemies, and you'll require much less of a beating before you hit the ground.
Josh Atkins, lead game designer at Lionhead, admitted that using three individual keyboard buttons for three individual attacks resulted in a clunky feel to combat. The control scheme familiar to console gamers has therefore been ditched in favour of one more reminiscent of the original Fable. The mouse wheel cycles through melee, magic and ranged attacks, with a left click used for attacking and the right reserved for defending. It's not as immediately accessible as having three separate buttons, but certainly works much better as a keyboard and mouse alternative. There is always the option of plugging in a 360 pad too, of course.
Graphics, then. Fable III on PC looks considerably better than its console comrade - but then again it should. The texture pop-in and 'Vaseline screen' that plagued the console version are nowhere to be seen, replaced with more defined character models and a smoother frame rate. I spent the duration of my time with the game sporting a pair of glamorous 3D glasses, which does wonders in bringing Albion to life. Teaming up with Nvidia has worked well for Lionhead in the visual department.
In addition to a reworked control scheme, hardcore mode and 3D visuals, the game will also launch with all the content from the limited edition 360 version. Players can look forward to extra weapons, properties, and dog skins, amongst other things - although the Understone and Traitor's Keep DLC will need to be purchased separately. It would have been nice if these were on the disc from the off - especially given the length of time it's taken for Fable to reach PC - but this is a minor quibble considering everything else on offer.
Fable III is available for PC in May.