My heart! It appears to have been gladdened. Lionhead has released a bunch of new info on Fable Legends, the latest Xbox One exclusive to join the ranks, revealing that while it's best enjoyed with other people, you can play by yourself if you like.
That's possible because the game supports a mixture of humans-only co-op, AI-and-human co-op and AI-only co-op. "You can switch easily between single player and multiplayer styles of play whenever you decide, or when a friend signs on," reads a FAQ on the developer's site. "During a quest, you can elect to battle a human or an AI Villain." You will, however, need to be online to play the game regardless, and it's not clear whether Lionhead's plans extend to local co-op.
New to the Villains thing? It's a sort of Battlefield Commander-style mechanic in which a fifth player takes charge of the monsters and hazards the other four face during their adventures. Unlike in other Fables, it's thus possible for antagonists to triumph over the forces of law and order.
"You aren't crafting a thrilling narrative at the end of which the Heroes prove victorious," explains the piece. "Your goal is to defeat the Heroes by any means possible. The most direct way to do that? Relieve them of their lives. After all, what is the point of a bold beginning without a Heroic end?"
Villain players can also concoct diabolical machinations without bothering other players. "As a Villain, you can challenge parties of human players, AI opponents, or mixed groups. After all, as a mastermind of evil, you're ready to swat aside any adversaries."
Here's what being a Villain consists of in practice. "When those pitiful Heroes enter an area, you'll get to choose which minions will be sent into battle and where to place these creatures to maximise their effectiveness. Once the fight begins, you can issue orders for your creatures to execute: telling them where to go, which Hero to attack, and which abilities to use to ensure your evil plans come to fruition."
It's possible to execute villainous strategies via Kinect voice commands (though not motion controls). "Fable Legends does not use the Kinect's motion controls for main gameplay," the post continues. "In the tradition of previous Fable games, we will support mini-games, pub games, and similar activities in our central city area. Some of these may use Kinect's motion controls where it's fun and appropriate."
The game takes place 400 years before the original Fable trilogy, and as a consequence "most" existing characters won't appear - I'm prepared to bet one of the characters who will is Theresa, the franchise's apparently immortal narrator. [Update - Except it turns out she wasn't born 400 years before the first Fable. Thanks for correcting this disgraceful lore oversight, Plamsa.]
Also as a consequence, Albion is a less built-up, more feral and exotic place than it is in Fable 3. "Fable Legends takes us to a time when the land is younger and magic was still rife. Fey, otherworldly creatures lurk just outside the walls of huddling and nervous villages, and these days few in Albion dare to venture into the dark woods at night. After all, it's dark out there and dinner's nearly ready."
The hero types you can see in the trailer - a quick swordsman, crossbow wielder, sorceress and brutal defence specialist - represent a "small sample" of the range of Heroes you'll be able to recruit in-game. As in other Fables, it's possible to customise a character's hair, outfit, weaponry and abilities, though there's intriguingly little sign of the franchise's predilection with moral alignments. Or for that matter, dogs.
Just as well, really - there are far too many dogs on next generation consoles for comfort right now. Anyway, what do you think of all this?