Fable Fortune Early Access Impressions – Albion Reborn
Fable is resurrected but in Early Access as a CCG. And it fares pretty well despite the competition.
Fable has always held an odd spot in my mind. It was never the traditional computer RPG that defined classics like Baldur’s Gate or more recent classics like Divinity: Original Sin and it wasn’t quite as deeply open world as Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series. Still, there was a certain charm, equal parts grim and witty, to the world of Albion. When Microsoft decided to pull the plug on Fable Legends, it felt like the contemporary fusion of humour and action that the series would bring to present day gamers was lost.
Now we have Fable Fortune, a collectible card game from Mediatonic and Flaming Fowl Studios developed with Microsoft’s blessing. If you’re a stickler for the world of Albion, then this is the closest you’ll get to revisiting it.
"Those who’ve played Hearthstone or even Gwent will know the drill."
The utter charm of the game’s art-style sticks out and looks incredibly sleek even in the game’s Early Access state. For people like me who never really got into the Fable universe, many of the more elaborate references may go over their heads. At this stage, there isn’t too much of a story to cling on to but I can appreciate the personalities on offer.
As noted, Fable Fortune is a collectible card game. Those who’ve played Hearthstone or even Gwent will know the drill. Earn card packs, customize decks or choose from six pre-made deck types that are represented by heroes. There’s the Gravedigger, Knight, Alchemist and Shapeshifter among others, each possessing their own cards. Heroes have the distinction of possessing special abilities and can also earn unique cards. From there, you enter a battle, choosing four cards to start with.
Three Gold is doled out at the beginning of the match which is used to dispense your cards onto the field of battle (better cards require more Gold, which is earned as the battle progresses). Each card has an Attack and Health rating along with unique functions. Some are straightforward like Stunning Slash which deals 1 damage to an enemy unit and applies the Stun effect. Others like the Debt Collector deals damage to a unit and upon surviving, provides a single piece of Gold to you. Coupled with the sheer range of cards for each hero type (with over 250 cards in total) and varying play-styles, there’s quite the diversity at launch.
"What is about Fable Fortune that sets it apart from the pack? As it turns out, quite a lot."
You can also customize decks, choosing a hero type and selecting the cards you want. This allows Neutral cards to come into play as well and Fable Fortune will let you save up to eight decks in this fashion. Of course, for any hardcore CCG player, this is all standard fare. What is it about Fable Fortune that sets it apart from the pack? As it turns out, quite a lot. Along with training, you can either indulge in PvP or enter a co-op challenge.
The co-op challenge is meant for PvE players and cobbles two players together as they battle a single AI “boss” of sorts. Organize tactics with your partner is the key to winning. If you’re not in the mood to actually talk to your partner, it’s possible to tap cards on their deck as suggestions to play. This is a pretty unique approach but if you don’t want to listen or become incapable of communicating, then you’ll both ultimately lose.
Other unique features include the ability to choose quests before starting a match. There are three to select from at the start and they’re pretty simple to execute. Spend gold on units, use your hero’s ability a set number of times and so on. By the time the quest is resolved, you can choose a Good or Evil path which either confers extra damage to an ability depending on a target’s health or grants life drain if a target is killed respectively.
"Fable Fortune may not reinvent the wheel when it comes to collectible card games but it offers a unique universe with compelling mechanics…"
Prove your allegiance to either side three times and it will be possible to morph some cards for more noble (or diabolical) purposes. This provides even more variety to the experience and is a neat little twist to the established CCG formula. While choosing a specific path doesn’t exactly have as far-reaching moral effects as in the Fable games, it’s still a unique property that gives Fable Fortune some added flavour.
As an Early Access game, Fable Fortune still has a lot of content planned like a proper Tutorial System, more arenas and bosses, more cards, daily bounties and so on. What’s currently here is pretty well polished though more in-depth tutorials would have certainly been appreciated. Also, while the co-op challenge is a unique and fun mode that rewards coordination and teamwork, I did wish for a 1 v 1 mode against the AI just to operate on my own. Even a questing mode with its own story would have been a major plus. I am looking forward to the Special Events though which offer unique rules to further mix up gameplay.
Fable Fortune may not reinvent the wheel when it comes to collectible card games but it offers a unique universe with compelling mechanics, strategic card battling and a rewarding system that benefits all hero types. Whether this will convince those who aren’t normally into CCGs to actually give them a shot remains to be seen. For those who are interested, Fable Fortune is very polished with fairly good performance. I’m looking forward to how it shapes up over the coming months especially when it makes the transition to open beta.
This game was previewed on PC.