If that Fable 4 trailer is hinting what I think it is, I can't wait for the RPG's morality choices to have a greater impact than hair and eye color

Fable 4 screenshot
(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

If there's one thing the Fable games have always done well, it's enkindle a sense of storybook wonder. In a tale of heroes and villains clashing in a magical kingdom, it makes sense that casting the good guys versus the bad guys might have been an essential part of that storytelling process – once upon a time, anyway.

The latest Fable 4 trailer has me transfixed for numerous reasons: firstly, because it's goddamn Fable and we've only been waiting for it for 14 years. Secondly, because of how incoming developer Playground Games seems to highlight the importance of player choice in its overall proceedings. I am hopeful that the new stalwarts of the series will see fit to reshape and expand one of its most memorable aspects, with moral choices hinted at having actual narrative consequences rather than purely cosmetic ones in Fable 4 – as well as herodom being a lot more complicated than we'd ever imagined.


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Choose your own misadventure

Fable 4 screenshot

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Don't get it twisted: I love going rogue in RPGs, especially when our characters' appearances continually change to reflect their more dastardly actions. From renegade Shepard's glowing eyes and scarred-up visage in the Mass Effect trilogy to the dark magic that emanates from your robes after using Unforgivable Curses in Hogwarts Legacy, it's always exciting to see my ne'er-do-well chickens come home to roost in a visual sense.

But I love it even more when choices in games dictate various story outcomes. I don't need Geralt's hair to turn black and his eyes to burn red in order to know that it was a bad call to sell Ciri back to her father in The Witcher 3, but I'm far more interested in how sometimes, there really is no good choice or evil choice. It's these moments of damned if you do, damned harder if you don't, that really make an RPG feel like a well-rounded and profoundly human experience to me, and I'm keen for Playground's Fable reboot to take that step toward a hint of realism.

Naturally, that's something of a tall order – especially for a series as renowned for its silliness as Fable is. Part of the charm of the earlier entries is how they play on archetypes of heroism; the bad guys are very bad, sending villagers running in fear of your terrible raven-headed image, while the good guys are adorned with halos and radiate a pale white light to indicate utter purity. Achieving a middling or average score on the morality scale makes you kind of a plain jane (or jim), neither terrifying nor angelic on your quest for absolute mediocrity. 

This is something that helped edify Fable as being inherently that: a mythic fairytale, a fable set in a land so far off from our own that only the most fantastical of stories could possibly occupy it. I'm not saying that I want Fable 4 to totally do away with its extreme storybook gradients of good versus evil, but I already feel that the two trailers we have under our belts hint at a newfound maturity. 

The roads less traveled

Fable - Xbox Games Showcase 2024 - YouTube Fable - Xbox Games Showcase 2024 - YouTube
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Fret not: we're still going to be treated to all manner of dry British witticism, potty-humored nonsense, and juvenility in Fable 4, and I'll be the first to riot if we don't get to kick some chickens. But the story beats in the new Fable game seem a fair few shades darker already, especially in the most recent trailer revealed at the Xbox Games Showcase 2024.

Retired hero and coded alcoholic Humphry shows the less glamorous side effects of late-stage herodom. Given his alliance with the female hero, who I suspect will be our playable character in Fable 4, and all his repeated allusions to the impact of "the choices you make", his words and demeanor have me thinking long and hard about what those choices might be. He goes on to indicate that one such hero "made all the wrong choices" – and now, "she's back" to finish the job.

It's just a small hint of the game's potential storyline, but the chaotic RPG player in me that feels compelled to be the devil's advocate at all times is absolutely chomping at the proverbial bit; will I get to make the wrong choices, too? There were no right or wrong choices in those first three Fable games, necessarily; just two different ways of commanding attention and respect, the narrative outcome being largely similar either way. 

Fable 4 has the opportunity to evolve the series' iconic morality system and bring it into the 2020s with style, applying it to branching narratives that potentially unlock darker consequences for our actions. It might be wishful thinking, but I hope choices made in Playground's Fable will have knock-on effects to how the story plays out instead of merely going skin-deep. 

While we wait for Fable's 2025 launch, why not check out all of the other upcoming Xbox Series X games.

Jasmine Gould-Wilson
Staff Writer, GamesRadar+

Jasmine is a staff writer at GamesRadar+. Raised in Hong Kong and having graduated with an English Literature degree from Queen Mary, University of London in 2017, her passion for entertainment writing has taken her from reviewing underground concerts to blogging about the intersection between horror movies and browser games. Having made the career jump from TV broadcast operations to video games journalism during the pandemic, she cut her teeth as a freelance writer with TheGamer, Gamezo, and Tech Radar Gaming before accepting a full-time role here at GamesRadar. Whether Jasmine is researching the latest in gaming litigation for a news piece, writing how-to guides for The Sims 4, or extolling the necessity of a Resident Evil: CODE Veronica remake, you'll probably find her listening to metalcore at the same time.