Straaight from the Wild West
When Fable was previously shown at E3, there were two demos: an action demo and a story demo. There were complaints about getting half an understanding from a single demo, but these complaints must have fallen on deaf ears. Fable II was also split between an action and a story demo. I played the action demo.
The basics of battle are as follows: there's a button for melee strikes, one for ranged attacks with a makeshift shotgun, one for magic attacks, and one for dodging. The melee attacks could be tapped to make simple combos to knock down opponents. Ranged combat worked in two ways. If locked on to an enemy, the weapon would simply fire at it. If not, the view changed to a targetting system allowing precise attacks. Magic was a little tricky as there were different spells and different levels of these spells. To use a higher level spell, the button needed to be held until the magic spell changes. Unfortunately, I didn't get a lot of explanation about what the spells were, so it was a collection of trial and error. Magic attacks with a single target are unavoidable, even when trying to flee.
I'm glad this wasn't in the demo
Then there was the furry companion. Traveling along with the main character was his faithful dog. This dog would follow the man, being mostly invisible during battle. Occasionally it would detect some treasure and try to lead the man in the right direction. However, if battle interrupted the hunt, the dog seemed to lose the scent of the treasure. After battle, the dog may or may not pick up the trail again. There were also some problems with treasure being above or below something, but this method of hunting gave the general idea of where the treasure should be, at least. As well as treasure hunting, I picked up a ball to throw. Playing with the dog increases the bond between the two. Other options include positive and negative attention, possibly used for training the dog to become more adept at tasks.
Overall, the demo itself was lacking because I felt it was another hack'n'slash game with little more to it than a few gimmicks. Sadly, this isn't the case. I spent some time watching the other demo and managed to get a feel for how the two demos would combine into one game, but a combined demo would have been a lot more interesting.