The New Xbox Game Pass Tier Gives You The Worst Intro To Fable

Xbox just introduced a new Game Pass tier, giving you access to 25 titles that give you a taste of what the platform has to offer. While it’s heartening to see Fable make the cut after years out of the spotlight, the choice of game is just baffling. Xbox has a new Fable game to promote, and clearly, a lot of time and money is being chucked at the thing. So why would you try to drag in some new players with the worst mainline Fable game ever released?


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I don’t mean Fable 3 either. Sure, it wasn’t as much of an RPG as the first two games, and a whole lot of it was left on the cutting room floor. But it functioned. It’s even fps-boosted on Game Pass and plays remarkably well on modern hardware. It’s also way better than we gave it credit for back in the day, but that’s a rant for another time. No, I’m mad that Fable Anniversary has become the de facto face of this wonderfully British fantasy series when it’s the worst first impression of Albion there is.

Related: Fable Needs To Be British In The Right Way

On paper, this Game Pass choice makes sense. Fable Anniversary is the most recent re-release of the first game, remastered for Xbox 360 in the later years of the console’s existence. But you just have to take a passing glance at it to see it didn’t fare well in the jump to HD. Unlike the charm of the original, the remaster aged very quickly. Sure, the assets are all clearer now, but when it leaves us with weird, wide-eyed NPCs dotted around an unstable world, it’s hard to see it as an upgrade.

Unlike Fable 3, it plays worse on Game Pass than it did back in 2013. The frames per second are boosted, but you’ll have to turn that off if you want anything close to a stable performance. Even that won’t save you from all the bugs – some old, some new. Little things add up, like character outfit previews not working, or all the freezes. Worse of all, sometimes your game will load back up in an unplayable state, spawning you in the Heroes’ Guild in your underwear with no way to interact with anything around you. If you don’t have a backup save, you’ll have to start again.

A man running through Bowerstone, a fantasy setting filled with trees and taverns.

Even putting the technical issues of Fable Anniversary aside, I don’t think Fable: The Lost Chapters (an older re-release of the original game with extra content) would have been the best choice either. It would be better, sure – it’s one of the most beloved original Xbox games for a reason. But the sequel Fable 2 would be the far more fitting choice for Game Pass Core.

On a gameplay level, it is infinitely more accessible to newcomers and has also aged the best in its narrative and presentation. It’s from a time when a better sequel didn’t mean bigger, with Lionhead instead focussing on adding more detail and warmth to the world of Albion. It mixed up the tone, changed almost everything about the setting, and took players out of their fantasy comfort zone as an all-important hero in a guild full of comrades. Now, you’re in a broken world, where no one has the comfort of believing in magic. The deeds of your heroic ancestor from the first game are largely forgotten, with tyrants filling the power vacuum.

Fable 2 didn’t have the long-lasting impact it deserved, but it went against the grain in all the right places. It’s an unsung hero in gaming history, and the best way to gear everyone up for a Fable sequel that – hopefully – does the same.

Snow falls in Fable 2. The hero stands with her back to the camera, wearing a cape.

That isn’t to downplay the first Fable game or its influence. I just spoke to a bunch of its developers and wrote almost 3,000 words about its creation. It’s a masterpiece, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to appeal to the new wave of Game Pass subscribers who hop on the Core plan. It’s a piece of history, but that history can’t be respected if no one’s sure why the series was so adored in the first place. Fable 2 is the far better choice to convince younger gamers that this series was so important, and why, hopefully, it will take its rightful place at Xbox’s side once more.

Fable: The Lost Chapters didn’t need to be fixed. The fact that Microsoft can’t recognise this ten years after Anniversary launched to disappointing reviews is concerning. For many, its existence is just another reminder of the grim fate that befell the hardworking folks at Lionhead, who from most accounts, were working on whatever Microsoft wanted them to, not what was best for the series in the long run. We already know that Xbox regrets what happened to Lionhead, I just hope it’s not setting the new developers over at Playground up for failure too.

But most importantly, if you’re picking up Core membership, don’t start the series on Fable Anniversary. The first game will be there waiting for you when you’re ready but don’t poison the well by picking up the buggy re-release of an already buggy remaster and believing this represents the series. Fable is, admittedly, a hard series to sum up in a single title, but if we have to pick one, it has to be the gem that is Fable 2. One day, I hope Xbox realises that.

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