Update, Correction: It does appear that Steam players can play with and against XBox and Windows 10 owners of the game, which is nice.
After seven months in early access to hammer it into ship-shape, RPG-turned-CCG Fable Fortune just about ready for launch. With an official release date of February 22nd, it'll be rolling out on Microsoft consoles and PC as a free-to-play title, with existing early adopters getting a few perks with their Founders Pack purchase.
Hearthstone probably isn't shaking in its boots, but this one does at least look to be a reasonably polished looking take on the 'light' CCG genre, filling its playfield with chunky cardboard stand-ups after summoning, and buoyed somewhat by the whimsical, fairytale-with-knobs-on aesthetic of the Fable franchise.
Fortune at least has a few ideas of its own up its sleeve. As with the RPG series it's based on, you'll occasionally be asked to pick between a Good or Evil resolution to quests, which result in changed character abilities and even altering some cards. Still, it's hard to shake that this is the latest in a long line of would-be Hearthstone competitors, and this one is hanging its reputation on an especially strained brand name. Especially so now that Lionhead, Big Blue Box and a multitude of other Fable-related outfits have closed their doors, leaving a chain of cancelled projects in their wake.
Interestingly, the game is set for release on Xbox One, Windows 10 and Steam. While I'd hope that Microsoft would let down their guard a little, I can only assume this means that Steam-version owners will be locked out of any cross-platform play, only able to interact with other Steam owners of the game. Splitting your community like that before the game is even out isn't going to help a new CCG find its footing in an already brutally competitive market, especially when the game is building its name on the back of Fable of all things. It's hard not to be a little cynical after seeing far more immediately tempting games shut down for less.
It's also not that great of a sign that after taking a quick peek at Steamcharts (which, while unofficial, skims its live data quite accurately from Steam), I notice that the Steam version of the game currently has zero players online, down from its January average player-count of... five. I feel like I'm already carving a final tombstone for the Fable franchise here, and I hope so desperately that I'm wrong, but I guess there's only so much you can do with boilerplate fantasy, strained British humor and a ham-fisted morality system.
Fable Fortune will be out on XBox One/Windows 10 via their shared storefront, and Steam simultaneously on February 22nd. The game will be free to play at launch.