Fable Fortune looks to be a must-try for both fans of franchise games and card game veterans. Here's why.

The Fable franchise has been dragged through a lot of mud in recent years, following several unsuccessful projects which deviated from its role-playing roots. After the release of a scaled-down arcade game, an on-rails Kinect experience and a remaster, the series found itself dropping the identity grounded in its earlier titles.

Coming off a rocky few years, the cancellation of the cooperative RPG, Fable Legends, put the future of the series in jeopardy. With the game's creator having closed its doors, the series seemingly found itself lost in limbo without a developer.

It's now been seven years since the last Fable RPG, and fans are clearly clamoring for another experience set in its rich universe. While we've still yet to hear of another true Fable title, Fable Fortune looks to be the next step toward reviving the seemingly abandoned franchise.

Previously developed alongside Fable Legends at Lionhead Studios, Fable Fortune is a free-to-play collectible card game (CCG) built for console and PC. Although never publicly announced, it has been embraced by Flaming Fowl Studios – a team created by former veterans of the Fable franchise. Gaining public interest through a successful Kickstarter campaign, the studio since secured external funding to complete the project.

While the game's final release for Xbox One and Windows 10 is still a little while off, we spent some time with an in-progress version of Fable Fortune. Here's what to expect from the game's Early Access release.

The game must consider its established RPG roots while offering concepts that appeal to fans of the CCG genre.

With Fable's legacy having been solidified in the RPG space, Fable Fortune strives to reach a somewhat different demographic than the main line of games. In response to the success of titles like Hearthstone, which have found a clear following across multiple platforms, a number of big publishers have already begun to invest in the digital-card genre.

However, entering a crowded market, Fable Fortune needs to prove itself as a standalone CCG. Coming from a unique angle of resurrecting an existing franchise, the game must consider its established RPG roots while offering concepts that appeal to fans of the CCG genre.

While Fable Fortune's gameplay doesn't diverge hugely from a common card game formula, clear influences from previous Fable RPGs can be seen across its core mechanics. One of the most prevalent aspects of this is Fable's renowned alignment system, which changes the abilities offered by cards, depending on your morality as a player. This aims to add a new layer of skill to traditional card gameplay, by putting more choice in the hands of the player.

Though some traditional characteristics of digital card games still return, an effort appears to have been made to ensure each attribute of Fable Fortune fits into the Fable universe. From both card designs and their underlying abilities, there are clear influences from the world paved by Lionhead during the past decade.

The game also borrows from the existing narrative established in previous games, making Fable Fortune a welcoming experience for fans invested in the world laid out by the original RPGs. Looking at the current collection of cards, it's clear that each design somehow fits into the overarching lore. Between the artistic approach, setting and the simply quirkiness, Flaming Fowl certainly aims to retain the existing persona associated with the Fable world.

Both PvP seasons and cooperative challenges will be offered, providing access to tiered rewards.

The surrounding online ecosystem which supports Fable Fortune also appears to have seen a significant amount of attention, with a focus on pulling in both casual and competitive crowds. The game's free-to-play model and familiarity to existing digital card games look to make Fable Fortune relatively easy to pick up, with a deeper competitive scene available for those who chose to pursue it.

Both player-versus-player (PvP) seasons and cooperative challenges will be offered on fortnightly basis, providing access to tiered rewards for a limited time period. By earning medals based on your performance, you'll be able to access rewards switched out every two weeks. This system will also be used to push new cards into Fable Fortune, by adding these rewards to the card pool after each season concludes.

With a "games-as-a-service" model, Fable Fortune will rely heavily on microtransactions for its revenue. Although digital card packs will be earnable in-game, real-world currency can also be spent on these randomized packs. This hopes to introduce an enticing route to pursue, without breaking the balance of gameplay. Although Lionhead hopes this will make for a level playing field, that is still to be proven with a real-world community.

Fable Fortune looks like a great free-to-play title for both Xbox One and Windows 10 gamers, offering an appealing premise for both CCG veterans and fans of the Fable franchise. Building up a framework for a competitive scene looks to be promising, provided the team can manage and build up Fable Fortune around the demands of its community.

See at Microsoft

Updated July 25, 2017: Refreshed with links to buy now that Fable Fortune is available in Game Preview for Xbox and Windows 10.