Fable's morality system is undeniably one of the main hallmarks of the franchise. Lots of games let players choose sides and act in either good or evil ways, but Fable takes it to great lengths, tying even the most basic player option to morality and vastly altering the player's appearance based on their alignment. Considering how important morality is to Fable, then, it seems inevitable that Fable 4 will include it in some shape or form. Since Playground Games needs to establish its presence as the IP's new developer, Fable 4 will probably have a very different take on the system, but it'll almost certainly be in the game somehow.
Playground may stick to the convention of working with morality, but it shouldn't feel pressured to work within the limits of Fable's traditional concepts of morality. On the contrary, it would be best if Fable 4 vastly reworks the system. Rather than limiting players to choices that are either good or evil, Fable 4 should examine different types of behavior individually and assign players more complicated moral values, resulting in complicated player characters with the capacity for both great good and great evil. Fable's binary morality system should inspire the franchise's future, rather than define it.
Fable's Morality Needs An Update
At the time of the original Fable trilogy, a largely two-sided moral system worked just fine, since it was the standard perception of video game morality systems. Fable's concepts of Good and Evil really helped establish a unique identity for the franchise. However, it's been a long time since these games have come out, and iconic RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons have since reexamined their in-game ethics systems, sometimes stepping away from them entirely due to their problematic social and political roots. Fable's old black-and-white perspective on the world worked well in its time, but considering how the game industry has changed since then, it's woefully out of date.
Rather than putting all of the player's actions into broad categories of Good and Evil, Fable 4 might want to divide player actions into a few different ethical categories that result in distinct personality traits. For instance, Fable 4 players might have distinct moral scores such as Greedy vs. Generous, Bloodthirsty vs. Merciful, Arrogant vs. Humble, and so on. Fable 4's main quests and sidequests could offer unique scenarios that affect these moral values individually, and the various unique combinations of scores in these values could unlock all sorts of unique items, quests, and NPC interactions that hugely empower replayability.
Complicating Fable's moral scores in this way may seem counterintuitive, but Fable is no stranger to blending alignment values. Both Fable 2 and Fable 3 combine the standard Good and Evil value with Purity and Corruption, as well as a number of other contrasting values. Purity and Corruption diversified morality a little by separating the player's day-to-day behavior from their broader, more impactful actions, but Lionhead Studios' specific notions of pure and corrupt behavior were also broad and vague like Good and Evil. Playground Games would be wise to use the skeleton of Fable 2 and 3's multiple moral sliders to create several truly distinct patterns of behavior that players can create for their character.
Playground Must Leave Its Mark on Fable
Playground Games is probably tempted to stick to the traditional Fable morality scale as a means to win over the franchise's long-standing fans, and it certainly has the potential to conceive of more mechanically and narratively compelling notions of Good and Evil than previous Fable entries. It'd also be a pretty safe more, considering Playground's lack of RPG experience. On the contrary, though, Playground should innovate on Fable's morals as much as possible in order to show how Fable is entering the modern age and becoming part of Playground's repertoire. Fable 4 can't just rehash everything that worked in its predecessors; it needs to be distinct. More ethical values for players to weigh would be a step in the right direction.
Fable 4 is in development for PC and Xbox Series X/S.
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