Fable Fortune plays very much like Hearthstone or Magic the Gathering, borrowing many of the classic gameplay elements. Rather than mana, you have gold to spend on playing cards, which grows over each round. Many cards can’t be played on the first turn they are on the board, etc. etc.
Where Fable tries to differentiate though is with your character, through a levelling and morality system. Each round starts with you accepting a quest (which has a reward when completed), with either a ‘good’ or ‘evil’ outcome, which will change the physical appearance of your avatar as the round progresses. It’s a nice touch.
There’s 6 basic hero types at the moment, all of which have different abilities and playstyles, and over 500 cards. Despite this, the game is pretty balanced, especially for an Early Access title, and there’s also a number of different strategies for success which you can see play out, even as all the new players struggle to get their heads around the types of cards and heroes they want to use.
It’s good to see plenty of depth even before the ‘official’ release.
There are some other elements though to try and flesh out the battling. Individual cards level up, although the game is currently unclear about what (if any) benefit this has.
There’s also crafting, although I think the balance is out here in terms of the resources required. And to be honest, with 500+ cards even in early access to collect, these features are mostly for the very hardcore genere fans.
Clearly, with no meaningful single player content, the crux of the game is the online play. Thankfully matchmaking is clean and simple, and has been pretty quick to date.
Clearly the player count, even in Beta, is good. This hopefully bodes well for the future of the game. To be honest, I think the in-game timer is a bit too generous, and I often found myself reaching for a magazine or an iPad during opponent turns – I’d at least like to see an option for more fast-paced play.
I actually enjoyed the co-op mode just as much (or perhaps even more) than the competitive play. You go up against a single AI, with the humans taking it in turns to play cards and co-ordinate attacks.
But you can use their cards in play too, which makes for some interesting strategic moves, especially when you’re using different types of decks.
One of the best things though is that progression through the leagues is pretty quick.
You’ll get medals based on your performance, and for the first few promotions, you’ll only need to play between 3-8 games, depending upon your skill. This system means you’ll always have players at around your skill level available to play against, even down to this granular level.
It’s also worth noting that the starter decks are pretty poor. Buying into the game in early access grants you access to quite a number of free packs, which will help you immediately build a much better deck, allowing you to be immediately competitive.
Everything has a crisp, clear and uncluttered feel to it in Fable Fortune. The UI and usability have clearly had a lot of thought and effort put into them, which is good to see.
The game rules and cards have clearly written text and good explanations for them, which is pleasing to see. The actual card art and environments are also good, but only out of context. There’s too little about the game which feels classically ‘Fable’.
The art style is pretty much spot on, but there’s too little British humour, and too many missing creatures from the universe. Too many of the cards feel like bland and generic fantasy artwork which could have been lifted from just about any franchise, and it’s this that needs resolving soonest.
There’s the odd chicken or chuckle moment like the ‘over-eager cadet’ card, but these are few and far between at the moment.
The music is perhaps the best area at evoking the feel of some of the original games, but like much of the content, there’s not enough of it currently, and I hope more is added over time.