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Babylon’s Fall commits gaming’s cardinal sin

After spending a couple of days with Babylon’s Fall, I sat in front of my computer in complete silence. My mind was completely blank, I desperately struggled to form some opinion on this game. Then as if it were a sign from heaven, I saw this tweet.

What's Worse: A bad game, or a boring game?

— Nathaniel Bandy (@NathanielBandy1) March 5, 2022

Suddenly everything just clicked with me. Babylon’s Fall commits one of the grievous sins of video games: It is quite boring.

Babylon’s Fall is the latest game from PlatinumGames, the studio that is famous for high octane, over-the-top action games like Bayonetta and Astral Chain. That personal flair is lost in Babylon’s Fall with its slow combat and dull plot. It doesn’t feel like it was made by the same company at all.

The cost of entry

Babylon’s Fall is a hack and slash RPG where players are tasked to ascend the Ziggurat, a massive tower in the city of Babylon. At the beginning of the game, the player character gets a Gideon’s Coffin attached to their back. This allows them to use four spiritual weapons in combat, but it is a death sentence. Players can team up with three other players and tackle each level of the Ziggurat in order to reach the top and earn their freedom. While in the city of Babylon, players can interact with shops, equip new armor and weapons, and accept quests, very similar to other live service games like Destiny 2 or even Monster Hunter Rise.

When I suggest games to people, I often mention the weaker parts as a warning. Sometimes you have to accept the rougher edges in order to appreciate what is good in a game. Dragon Age: Origins has ugly graphics and an archaic battle system, but has a vibrant world filled with interesting characters. Destiny 2 has plenty of mindless and repetitive grinding but has some of the best gunplay in the industry. Babylon’s Fall is filled those rougher edges, but nothing sweet to make up for it.

The best (and possibly worst) thing you can say about Babylon’s Fall is that it’s fine. It’s certainly not good, though not bad either. Just fine. The combat is fine, the season pass is as annoying as any other game with one, and the gear system is just boilerplate.

There is nothing thrilling about this game. For the hours that I played it, I could not even describe a memorable moment. A lot of the levels feel the same, the enemies are not particularly interesting, and there was never a moment of spontaneity. I never had to pivot to a new strategy and I never discovered anything during my gameplay. Every level started and ended pretty much exactly how I expected.

The multiplayer experience is devoid of any mirth or excitement. I ran quests over and over with multiple people and if you told me they were actually just A.I. players, I would believe you. There was no incentive to interact with or to talk to each other. Maybe that changes further in the game, but none of our attacks synergized together, so it felt like we were all playing a solo action game and just so happened to be right next to each other.

A group of Gallu in a threatening stance in Babylon's Fall.

In the shadow of giants

Babylon’s Fall’s release date also did not do it any favors. It is now standing next to giants of the industry. Elden Ring, Pokemon Legends: Arceus, Destiny 2: The Witch Queen, Horizon Forbidden West, and even Total War: Warhammer III were all released around the same time. These titans are battling it out right now desperately trying to grab and keep our attention focused on them and them alone. Babylon’s Fall has nothing to make it stand out, it is buried in layers of shadows by the games that tower over it.

The wild thing that I can’t properly wrap my head around is that this is a game from PlatinumGames, the studio behind Bayonetta and NeiR: Automata. Those games ooze with personality, sing with action, and dazzle players with flamboyant charm and grace. Babylon’s Fall has none of that. There is nothing about it that warrants any attention, positive or negative.

This may concern some, as this is PlatinumGames’ proper introduction to live service games. Last month, PlatinumGames stated that it wanted to focus more on live service games so players can stick with its titles for longer periods of time. There is nothing particularly wrong with that idea, especially if PlatinumGames still plans to work on beloved IPs like the Bayonetta series. However, this is not the best first impression. It feels like PlatinumGames hasn’t fully grasped at what makes live service games appealing, and how to translate its unique flair into games like this.

Babylon’s Fall needs a shot of adrenaline to save it. Content updates and patches on the same level that saved No Man’s Sky will be necessary if it wants to stay afloat. Without that, this game will disappear with no one even remembering a single thing about it besides it being PlatinumGames’ first live service experiment.

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