If you asked me what game caught me by surprise and excited me most from E3 2018, I would say Babylon’s Fall. The announcement trailer gripped me with its visuals and tone while the developer, Platinum Games, excited me. This is the same team that brought Bayonetta and Nier: Automata with their thrilling action combat. The trailer ended with the year 2019 leading us to believe it wouldn’t be long before we dove into this new world.
Babylon’s Fall Development Turmoil
2019 arrived and the game did not. Fans saw a glimpse of what it would look like in the PlayStation’s December State of Play in 2019. The game then went radio silent with no news on development or if the game was canceled. Finally, Square Enix re-revealed Babylon’s Fall at E3 2021 likely expecting a roar from fans eagerly awaiting its release. Except, the opposite happened.
Babylon’s Fall E3 2021 Trailer
Fans criticized the new trailer with its graphics being the top complaint. Platinum Games seemingly moved from a well polished, medieval-fantasy style design to, what many considered, a blurry mess. The devs confirmed choosing an oil painted art-style with brushstroke visuals using canvas-like textures. The character models also showed striking similarities to the popular Square Enix MMO, Final Fantasy XIV. The game held several closed betas over the last year to gauge player feedback and test the game state. After receiving a number of player feedback complaining on this art style, Platinum Games adjusted the graphics to reduce blurriness and pixelation.
The situation surrounding Babylon’s Fall hurt my excitement for the action title. I no longer felt it was a sure-fire hit I originally hoped for. I then received a chance to convince myself otherwise and jump back on the hype train. This came by way of a demo for Babylon’s Fall Square Enix recently released for PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4. It offers players a chance to play the early parts of the game ahead of its release on March 3. I spent over six hours with the game, gathering my thoughts and seeing if I’d be purchasing the game anytime soon.
Babylon’s Fall presents an intriguing story for those diving in for the long haul. Players fight as sentinels, a warrior bonded with an item called a Gideon Coffin. This item allows sentinels to fight using four weapons, one for each hand and two controlled by threads from the Gideon Coffin. The sentinels must fight and climb the Tower of Babel to uncover its secrets while protecting the citizens of the land. I say must fight, because they literally must. The player, and players around the world, are technically prisoners forced by the empire to climb the tower. The reward they receive for climbing the tower is the highest reward they seek, their freedom. While the early stages don’t reveal much details, it keeps you intrigued to find out more.
The boss battles look to be a ton of fun the further you go. In the demo, you will eventually face off against Zenon, a monstrous looking knight. I won’t give too much details as to not spoil his role. However, let’s just say he is not unknown to the empire. This fight requires the player to utilize different mechanics to take him down. Platinum Games set up the story to be tackled either solo or with the game’s desired path with a party of four. Zenon proves to be a formidable foe by himself and even more so when in a party.
Now with it being the first boss, his attacks and patterns can be rather repetitive and easy to manage. However, it solidified to me this game won’t be a simple button mash until all the enemies die. The game’s launcher also showcases a fearsome dragon that players can look to tackle at power level 110-150. For the record, I’m at power level 15. So I won’t get to see this fight for awhile, but I assure it will be just as fun and challenging as I anticipate.
Free Battle Pass For First Season
Live-service games always come with a battle pass. Babylon’s Fall is no different, enticing players to log on daily to climb the pass and gain better rewards. For season 1, titled “The Eternal Ziggurat” which runs until May 31st, players receive the premium version for free. This likely came about due to the negative reaction from the re-reveal, but it’s nice nonetheless.
The pass typically costs 1,000 garaz, the name for the premium currency. I could not find the real-world price for this at the time of writing, but I’d suspect it to be $10 like most battle pass prices. If you’d like to lower that price for the future though, you can do so by leveling up the pass. Depending on your rank at the end of the season, you could lower the price down by at most 500 garaz. Players can level up the pass by completing daily, weekly, and seasonal missions. Completing the five daily quests will level up the pass by one tier.
Repetitive Map Layouts
I’ll start with cutting Platinum Games some slack. It could solely be the early missions. However, I felt I saw a lot of the same looks, pathways, and details in each of the mission maps. Personally, this didn’t bother me a lot. I still would like to see more variety between each mission. The early maps boiled down to: defeat creatures, run down corridor, jump over barricade, defeat creatures, rinse and repeat. I hope the themes of each section of the tower at least looks different to keep me engaged for the long road (or climb) ahead.
End of Battle Stats Pop Up Too Often
Babylon’s Fall breaks each mission up into chapters. These chapters are capped off by blocking off the pathways until all of the spawned enemies are killed. Once you do so, the game pops up a screen detailing the chapter is completed and then calculating a score based on your performance. This wouldn’t be such a bother if it didn’t happen around five times per mission. It feels way too often when a mission can take around 10 minutes to complete.
I would much prefer the stats to pop up at the missions end. It could still show my performance for each of these chapters when doing this and not break the flow of the mission. I understand why Platinum Games does it by way of the former, as you get a rating for each chapter. That chapter rating impacts your overall mission rating and the rewards you seek. I just prefer to see the mission not feel so jittery, allowing me to flow one battle into the next.
No Voice Chat
A minor gripe, but a gripe nonetheless. Babylon’s Fall centers around cooperative battles, especially the boss battles as I mentioned earlier. So an in-game voice chat makes perfect sense to coordinate when these fights come. Yet, Babylon’s Fall offers none. Players can communicate through emotes and gestures, but I cannot fathom throwing out a “help” emote while a 30 foot sword crushes my character’s face. I understand other games like Destiny 2, Final Fantasy XIV, and the likes do not include in-game voice chat. Players must jump into a party chat to coordinate and that is a simple fix for Babylon’s Fall as well. I just would prefer for this cross-platform title to have the option in 2022.
Platinum Games are masters of action combat. Nier: Automata, Bayonetta, and Astral Chain grip you with the over-the-top combat and style it presents. So it shocked em to find that Babylon’s Fall doesn’t quite live up to this legacy. Don’t get me wrong, the combat is still fluid and sets up some real options to express your own style. It’s just much slower than I anticipated. The longer I spent with the game, the more comfortable I got with this slowed down pace. I also learned various combos to maximize my damage with my four weapons. I still longed for the combat to be sped up just a tiny bit. The recovery from striking your enemies feels like an eternity coming from Platinum’s previous titles. I hope they cut this down just a bit through future updates, but I won’t be upset if they don’t.
Matchmaking Not Very Simple
Party up with friends and go slay some monsters. Simple enough, right? Not so much. I convinced a couple friends to download the Babylon’s Fall demo over the weekend so I can test out the online matchmaking and see the online performance. I saw no impact to performance when playing with others. My PS5 is plugged directly into my router to get the fastest internet performance I can get. So I’m not sure if using Wi-Fi changes this, but I’d assume not given I played with a number of people and likely at least one played this way.
However, when trying to go on a mission with my friend it got a bit tricky. See there is no way to directly create a party with your friend like you can in Destiny 2 or FF XIV. I added my friend to my friends list, but when I click on his name after to send a party invite, I found none. I only found I could inspect his gear, see his profile, or invite him to a private HQ. The HQ is the main hub of the world. You will find players running about in between missions if you load up normally. However in a private HQ, you can invite and limit it to only those you want.
I explain this because how I learned to party with a friend requires you to do these steps. 1) Have you or your friend ready up for a quest. 2) The other player must use the quest board and select “Party Quests”. 3) Select your friends quest and go on your merry way. While this isn’t overly complicated, I’d prefer they introduce a party system to then you or your friend can just ready up the quest.
The Potential Is There
As I stated in the heading for this paragraph, Babylon’s Fall has potential. Platinum Games brings a legacy of great story and combat. Square Enix knows how to handle online games, look at FF XIV or even FF XI. They’ve already laid out a roadmap for season 1 detailing new game modes, a Nier: Automata collaboration, and additional story. The biggest question mark is, will gamers care? Will the player base stick around to support this game and see this thing through? You don’t have to look hard to find people still tearing the game apart from what many envisioned when the title was first announced back in 2018 to what we see now.
Releasing the demo for people to try out before buying was a smart move by Square Enix. It gives players the chance to see does this game deserve their money. For me, I’d say yes if you are a fan of Platinum Games. Yes, if you are a fan of Square Enix and trust them to support this game with quality content and updates. However if you do not fit in these segments above, give the demo a chance.
Keep in mind, this is an online cooperative action title. It’s meant to see you come back again and again. So those who only dive in for an hour or so will likely leave feeling dissatisfied. A completely understandable feeling as well. Though I hate when people say this, Babylon’s Fall is a game you need to play for several hours if you truly want to know if you will like it. As I stated earlier, I played the demo for six hours. If you asked me in my first hour, I’d tell you it was okay but nothing too exciting. After six hours though, it’s something I really hope fans get behind so we can at least see the story it tells.
Babylon’s Fall releases on March 3 for PS5, PS4, and Steam. Those who purchase the Deluxe Edition can begin playing starting today.
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