A Questionable Turning Point
Fable Fortune is a turning point in the controversial Fable series and yet another entry into the collectible card game genre (CCG). It will release in Early Access on July 25th.
As one would expect, Fable Fortune plays similarly to other card games. You choose a hero, create a deck, and test it out against other players online. There are currently six heroes, with two more to come. Each has their own special ability and a set of specific cards based on that ability, as well as a general pool to pick from. Since the game will release in early access, some of these heroes could use balancing. Players using Sand the Prophet, for example, can design a deck around boosting one specific card so powerful that it can kill a hero in two hits. Fortune will be free-to-play, so once more players join in these balance issues will be easier to find.
Each turn players lay out cards, use skills, and attempt to outsmart their enemies. Cards and abilities cost gold, of which you’re allowed a certain amount. Each player rotation this number goes up until the cap of ten. The goal is to take the hero’s health down to zero. Some cards and spells have extra effects that come into play once destroyed or placed into guard, among other statuses.
Sound familiar? It should if you’ve ever touched this type of game. Everything I’ve mentioned so far is standard CCG fare, of which Fable Fortune is an all right, if not unmemorable entry. Where it tries to differ is in the Fable series staple feature: its morality system. At the start of each game, you choose a quest to work towards. These are simple tasks such as "spend a certain amount of gold" or "use four cards with more strength than health". These goals are met naturally as you play, and you won’t adjust your style much to accommodate them.
Completing a quest gives you the option to put a point into good or evil. Your benefits from this choice are based on your Hero and hardly differ. You're then given a deck-specific trophy card to use at will.
While morality is a core part of Fable, here it feels tacked on. The choice you make has an insignificant impact on the overall match, and it serves to break the flow more than add to it. This is a real shame, especially because this is the only part of the game attempting to stand out from other CCGs.
Winning a match nets you some currency and experience. Losing gives you a less amount. The currency is used to buy card packs, which are also available via micro-transactions.
Game modes consist of ranked matchmaking, two-player co-op, and an event game type with some twist on the normal mechanics. There’s also a training mode that doesn’t actually train you how to play but rather pits you in a 1v1 match with an A.I. Fortunately, learning the game is pretty straightforward.
Fortune has a basic form of crafting that has you scrapping cards for materials and using those materials to create new and more powerful ones. This is fairly limited in its pre-release state so I haven’t had too much experience with it.
Fable Fortune has no story. The only story “elements” it has are the cards and heroes based on the series’ lore. Even then, a lot of Fable lore is fairly generic fantasy. I think the game would benefit from some sort of story mode a la Hearthstone. One will likely be added later on.
The most successful CCG’s have little touches of personality spread throughout. Hearthstone has intractable environments to play with while waiting for your turn. Magic the Gathering has memorable characters and a complex lore to draw from. Fable Fortune, in its current state, has none of this.
Personality Traits... Or Lack Thereof
From the eerie lack of music during matches to the static nature of the playing field environment, almost every opportunity to establish an atmosphere is missed. Fable has been criticized for a myriad of reasons, but one can’t deny its personality. What other series lets you serenade a group of villagers with a ukulele only to fart in their faces and flip them the bird? Fortune lacks any of that trademark style that drew us into the Fable games in the first place.
Both the cards and the heroes are pretty mundane in design, with few distinguishing factors from other fantasy properties. Again, this is more due to the lore it’s drawing from than the fault of the game’s artists, but it still takes away from the experience.
I experienced a few crashes during my time with Fortune, but this is to be expected. Some loading screens can take a while, even running a minutes time. Also, I’ve had issues with cards not placing down after selection and animations getting stuck.
Once I had cards unlocked and my deck fleshed out, I definitely enjoyed trying out the different heroes. Despite missing a lot of the bells and whistles, Fable Fortune still invokes the same strategic thinking as any other CCG. Yet, that’s the exact reason you may want to look elsewhere. If other established games have more features and personality added on to this core set of mechanics, why not play them instead?
Fable Fortune is a passable entry into the saturated market of Collectible Card Games. Though I’d argue most of what works is because of the genre staples rather than anything unique the Fable name brings to the table. I’d say Fortune is worth checking out. While there are better alternatives, those still dedicated to the Fable brand will find enjoyment here.
Fable Fortune is coming to both the Xbox One and PC and will feature cross-platform play between the two. Fable Fortune releases into Early Access on July 25th.