Reports suggest the Fable franchise could be returning to Xbox

Less than two years after the closure of Lionhead Studios, Eurogamer is reporting that Microsoft is working on a new mainline Fable game.

According to sources close to the project, the game will be developed by UK developer Playground, best known for its work on the Forza Horizon series. Working from a newly-established office in Leamington Spa, Eurogamer’s sources have said that there will be a team of more than 200 working on the game, suggesting Microsoft is highly invested in it.

Just what kind of Fable might Playground be working on? Well, the report says that the game is planned to be an open world world action RPG with a focus on character and story. As exciting as all of this sounds, fans shouldn’t expect to see the game any time soon. Sources say that the game is still in the very early stages of its development and that the Playground team numbers are being increased in preparation.

Return to Albion

The game that Playground will reportedly be working on sounds rather similar to the vision Lionhead had for Fable 4 before its pitch was rejected and the studio was shut down. Prior to its closure, Lionhead had been working on Fable Legends, a free-to-play service game with a heavy emphasis on online multiplayer.

This was quite a departure from Lionhead’s previous Fable titles and the studio hoped that it would be able to return to creating single-player story-driven adventures when development of Legends was complete. This didn’t happen.

Fable co-creator Simon Carter told Eurogamer that the news left him with “mixed” feelings. Though he said it was great news for the UK games industry and he’d be pleased to return to Fable as a “punter”, he added that it’s “curious” that Microsoft would get rid of a development team that knows the franchise inside out. 

He doesn’t doubt, however, that the team at Playground is “very talented” and will do a “fantastic job.”

A fresh start

It is somewhat curious that Microsoft has taken this sudden shift in attitude towards the Fable franchise. According to Eurogamer, it’s the result of the success of Guerilla Games’ Horizon: Zero Dawn, This single-player story-driven game was a hugely beneficial exclusive for PlayStation and a sign that the future isn’t just for service-based online games. 

Playground is a studio that has done fantastic work for Microsoft with the Forza Horizon series so it’s understandable that the company would turn to them in the hopes of another exclusive success. 

Microsoft has yet to comment on the rumors so there’s no guarantee that another Fable title is actually in the works. However, in early 2017 Xbox boss Phil Spencer hinted heavily that the franchise wasn't dead and would return in some form which certainly creates hope. 

The thought of Fable returning is exciting and given the criticism Microsoft has received with regards to its lacklustre exclusive offerings on Xbox, it’d make sense for the company to revive one of its most beloved worlds. 

Emma Boyle

Emma Boyle is TechRadar’s ex-Gaming Editor, and is now a content developer and freelance journalist. She has written for magazines and websites including T3, Stuff and The Independent. Emma currently works as a Content Developer in Edinburgh.