Launch Review: Babylon’s Fall is a dull and cynical service game
At launch, this is dated, consistently dull and features the most average PlatinumGames combat we can remember
Disclaimer: This is a launch review of a large service game that is likely to receive significant post-launch content. As such the game experience is likely to evolve as the game’s developer adds and changes its systems over the following months and years. This review is accurate as of the launch window.
In the future, Babylon’s Fall will almost certainly be frequently used as an example of how not to launch a live service game.
Not only does it fail at the most basic elements, such as a visual style that’s incredibly unappealing, or a mission structure that is somehow both dreadfully short and tedious, but the game also tries desperately to establish itself as a live game, filling your screen with as many opportunities to micro-transact as it can, despite the fact it actually costs $60 to purchase.
Co-developed by PlatinumGames and Square Enix, Babylon’s Fall is a third-person action RPG that has players grouping up with up to three others as they hack-and-slash their way through hordes of enemies in pursuit of powerful loot. So far, so cliche as far as live service games go.
Upon entering the game you’re greeted with one of the most striking art styles we’ve encountered in many years – and sadly, it’s striking for all the wrong reasons. Babylon’s Fall’s low detail look is supposed to evoke a moving oil painting, but in practice, it’s not been implemented well at all and doesn’t suit the fast-paced, zoomed out action which becomes frustratingly difficult to track.
The game’s sludgy, low-quality characters look like you’ve zoomed in on the crowd of a PS2 racing game. While the world itself isn’t quite so ugly, the whole game has this strange filter that never conveys any tone other than a general blurriness that permeates your time with it. Characters often shimmer endlessly in certain cutscenes, one of many visual bugs we encountered.
Voiced cutscenes also come across as grating. It’s difficult to focus on the nuance of the world-building and lore that’s being set up when every character sounds like they’re auditioning for Masters of the Universe.
PlatinumGames is renowned for its excellent combat systems in games like Bayonetta and NieR: Automata, which makes it even more disappointing that Babylon’s systems prove so mediocre.
The game’s combat can be enjoyable in short bursts, mostly due to its system of allowing you to wield four weapons at a time, which is a good way to cause some mayhem. However, it doesn’t evolve much at all as the game goes on, and the fun of hacking and slashing quickly wears thin. There’s an initially promising dodge mechanic, but it legitimately doesn’t work 100% time, and this is horribly exacerbated when playing with other players.
Enemies have way, way too much health. This doesn’t make them hard, they’re extremely simple, it just means that you’re slapping away at them endlessly. It’s like the game was permanently scaled for four players, but as soon you get more than one player, you might as well sit on your phone while the rest of them batter away.
On PS5, the DualSense integration is so weirdly aggressive that after a few missions we had to take a break because our hands were straining trying to mash through these incredibly spongy enemies.
Babylon Fall’s most significant weakness, however, is its terrible mission structure. You’ll run down endless corridors only to find yourself locked in combat rooms over and over. There are a few encounters per mission that only last a few minutes. It’s extremely disjointed.
“The game’s combat can be enjoyable due to its system of allowing you to wield four weapons at a time, which is a good way to cause some mayhem. However, it doesn’t evolve much at all as the game goes on, and the fun of hacking and slashing quickly wears thin.”
Being a four-player online game, each mission you select will give you time to invite players or be matched with random people. Taking a cue from nobody’s favourite live game Anthem, any loot you find in these missions can’t be equiped or even looked at during missions, instead you have to take them back to the hub and have them inspected.
This is particularly frustrating and destroys any sense of flow. The missions are incredibly short as it is, so having to run back to the mission select post over and over is just grating.
And all of these problems are exasperated by one of the more offensive championing of in-game purchases we’ve seen in a full-price game. Babylon genuinely feels at times like a PS3 game that was unearthed years later and retrofitted with the most aggressive live service ephemera you could think of. From the very start of the game, Babylon’s Fall is throwing its Battle Passes in your face.
This is a $60 game that at launch offers a premium store with more than $150 worth of items to buy, and with what little is offered in the base game these microtransactions stick out like a sore thumb. It has the trappings of a subpar free to play live game that’s chasing the Genshin Impact money, but inexplicably it was developed by two established and usually excellent creators in Platinum and published by Square Enix.
Hopefully, Babylon’s Fall lasts long enough to receive the significant overhauls required to make it a worthwhile endeavour, with the $60 price tag being first in line. Because sadly, at launch, there is no one that we would recommend this game to in its current state.
It’s visually dated, consistently dull and features the most average PlatinumGames combat we can remember. On paper, the concept of a game like this bathed in the studio’s signature style is an appealing one, but sadly there’s nothing about the Platinum shine that’s evident in Babylon’s Fall.
The microtransactions in particular are incredibly grim, the downtime between the dreadfully short and uninspiring missions only further make you question how much more of it you could possibly suffer.
“There is no one that we would recommend Babylon’s Fall to. It’s visually dated, consistently dull and features the most average PlatinumGames combat we can remember.”
Games like Babylon’s Fall should yet another wake-up call for publishers that have seen the waterfall of money that the Genshin Impacts of the world have made and are desperate to dive in.
Games like Genshin & Warzone or any popular live service title manage to make their money because the loop those games create are incredibly enjoyable for players. In comparison, Babylon’s Fall is one of the least enjoyable games we’ve played in a long time.
If Square Enix thought that Marvel’s Avengers was a disappointment, then this game should be seen as ground zero for a complete rethink of its strategy going forward. Compared to Babylon’s Fall, Marvel’s Avengers is a beacon for mission variety, enjoyable combat and distinct visuals. In comparison, this is a soulless, cynical game that you should avoid.
There is no one that we would recommend Babylon’s Fall to. It’s visually dated, consistently dull and features the most average PlatinumGames combat we can remember. On paper, the concept of a game like this bathed in the studio’s signature style is an appealing one, but sadly there’s nothing about the Platinum shine that’s evident in Babylon’s Fall.
- Combat can be fun in short bursts.
- Terrible visuals.
- Dripping in the worst live game tropes.
- Dull, repetitive missions.
- Extremely overpriced.