The combat all follows the same rules: tap the button to do things quickly, or hold it down to charge up the sword, manually aim the gun or unleash more powerful magic attacks. "It's important that you feel it's super-accessible," says Molyneux, "but also that it's incredibly deep so if you're a gamer you feel there's a lot to get out of it." A bit later he shows us some of that depth, moving out of a powerful sword attack to fire the gun behind him in a smooth double-kill action, sending a frog-headed lizard dwarf thing flying in slow motion. "I will get more experience for doing that," he points out. There are co-operative elements to the combat as well, making it worthwhile to coordinate rather than hacking away separately.
Another new button is the "lookout trigger", which works a bit like Gears of War's Y-button. Whenever it flashes and you press it, the third-person camera changes position to highlight the most interesting thing nearby. In our demo, it's a pair of enemies chatting round the corner. Molyneux points out that apart from this, the interface is pretty sparse - largely, it would seem, because a lot of the more obvious gamey things have been rolled up into the world. Why bother with an alert indicator, for instance, when you can just have the dog growl?
As with the first game, everything has consequences. If you choose to be a woman, you have to carry and give birth to your child, which cuts into your adventuring. If you use the game's 'emotes' excessively, it affects perception of you. And as ever, while there is a plot (Molyneux bites his tongue to avoid spoiling it, but does insist that it will "push your morality to the limits"), you're not fenced in. To demonstrate this, he actually hops a nearby fence bordering the farmland you shared with your dead spouse, and starts mucking about in a ditch.
"At the moment, the story is just part of the Fable world. When you finish, the credits roll, but you're free to wander around. You can end up buying everything in the world; every house and every castle. That's a whole mini-game of exploration in itself, because everything works in simulation; if you buy and sell in a certain region, it will affect the house prices."
On top of that, Fable 2 has "got all the normal things you'd expect from a sequel". The world's "ten times larger", with 12 free-roaming above-ground regions and "something like 30" underground ones, plus, "I dunno, 100 more swords, and 200 more pieces of clothing, and all of them are augmentable and there's jewellery and all that stuff - blah blah blah. On the list goes." (Although it might end up being less - let's face it, morale in that part of the office just took a hit.)
Anyway, our time in Molyneux's company is about up, and so we reach the point where we came in: Josh blowing his husband's head off. Just prior to this, as the female avatar and her murderous accomplice enter the lush meadow adjoining the farmland Molyneux owns, his son rushes towards him. "Mum - I thought you'd never come back," he gor-blimeys. "Don't ever leave us alone again." "That's so sad," says Molyneux, sounding soppy. "I'm going to be an adventurer when I grow up," says his son, "and I'll have a dog just like you." All this time, Molyneux is saying, "yes, yes..." wistfully. He loves this world. These people are more to him than toys, there to be shot to amuse journalists. He snaps out of it.
"So I think it's looking pretty cool. It's going to be out this year - holiday season this year. It's really ambitious, there's a lot of stuff in there. There's a lot of freedom in there, and co-oping ends up being much, much bigger for role-playing than any other feature we could have put in." He's not wrong - when you murder someone's creation, you're crossing a line that very few games have really established. Conceptually, it's somewhere close to the idea of taking down massive spaceships in EVE Online; the grief you cause is palpable, with actual, real life consequences, and not just the in-game ones for which Fable's recognised. We can understand why Molyneux wells up about it. Fable 2 is sort of emotional.
Providing, of course, that all this makes it in. We hope it does.
Fable 2 is due out exclusively on Xbox 360 this year.