Lionhead Studios revealed during Gamescom 2015 that their upcoming Fable Legends will indeed be free-to-play as it has been rumored for some time. Just like with any announcement of a free-to-play model, the immediate follow up was defending the position, and stating their commitment to not making it pay-to-win.
One of the main tentpoles of that commitment is the idea that Fable Legends players will be able to “enjoy every element of the game completely for free.” This would include the main story, side quests, and every aspect of the game’s singleplayer RPG storyline. All of this will be included for free with the “Season One” pass. As the name would imply, there will also be future additions to the game in the form of Seasons, but as game director David Eckleberry told GameSpot:
Just like your traditional RPG storyline, it’s mostly linear with some side quests, so all of you have open access to all the quests in all of the seasons that we ever do
The main money making aspect within Fable Legends is the game’s multiplayer. Similar to the recently released Evolve from 2K Studios, multiplayer in Legends revolves around four players (acting as hero characters) taking down one larger human-controlled “villain” character. To start, every player will have four hero characters to play as, but those will rotate every two weeks. If you find yourself particularly attached to a hero and want to use them permanently they must be purchased outright, although exact prices have not yet been disclosed.
Some of the biggest fears of free-to-play games are equipment, XP, and resource items being purchasable in hoards. While items that “directly affect” gameplay can be earned as well as bought with real-world money, experience and items that restore health and magic, such as potions, cannot be bought. Lionhead Studios has been worryingly vague on what it will take to earn these items. In the worst of free-to-play games, this is usually an amount of time that no normal human being would commit. Instead, it’s meant to entice you into forgoing the unfair amount of time required and just paying the dollar amount instead.
Lionhead Studios also released a video featuring Eckleberry giving some more details on the model of Fable Legends.
The most encouraging thing to come from the video is the fact that Eckleberry, at least in words, seems to understand the positive ways to be free-to-play. Summarizing what he says, the most effective form of free-to-play for consumers is to have a game that is fun to play first, and the desire to throw some money at the developer comes shortly after. If Fable Legends can achieve this and not just put all the good stuff behind a pay wall, taking the game to a free-to-play model could end up being the right move after all. Otherwise, it will quickly be forgotten like dozens of free-to-play games before it.
Fable Legends will be available on Windows 10 and Xbox One later this year. Now that the game is free-to-play, it also requires an Xbox Live Gold subscription to access it.