Babylon’s Fall is a game that has been in and out of the news for a few years now. It was first teased by PlatinumGames and Square Enix in 2018 and has been off-and-on quiet since then with only a handful of details about what we were getting in the game. Finally, in 2021, Platinum and Squenix have been a little more forthcoming about Babylon's Fall. It’s a multiplayer hack-and-slash action title in which you and friends ascend up a mighty tower in an artistically striking and stylistic world. Recently, I got a chance to take a few of my first steps in this ascent.
The tower lies before you
In Babylon’s Fall, you play as a being known as a Sentinel seeking to climb a mighty tower called The Ziggurat. There was little detail on why or what this will accomplish in the Babylon’s Fall closed beta, but you are quickly dumped into a hub that hosts further player Sentinels on their own quests up the tower.
The first thing I noticed about Babylon’s Fall is that its environments are quite gorgeous and striking. The whole game from your characters, weapons, and the enemies to the environments and backgrounds has this paint-brushed look to it. PlatinumGames calls it a new “brushwork style” of graphics and I can see why. It’s pretty gorgeous so far.
As for the quest itself, it’s got kind of a Monster Hunter flow to it. You and other random folks are in the hub and can shop for gear and items, sell off unwanted goods, upgrade your gear at the blacksmith, and more. Once you’re ready to roll, you simply check the quest board and start a quest. Others will be able to join you, but you can also run solo if you want. If you want to play with friends, it’s a bit complicated like Monster Hunter, too. You have to get an HQ Code to share with your friends and they can log into your hub. From there, you have to make sure they join your quest when you post it (you can still accidentally leave without them… also like Monster Hunter).
I don’t enjoy how complicated Monster Hunter makes multiplayer lobbies, so I don’t quite enjoy it here in Babylon’s Fall either. Hopefully we’ll see some streamline of that system later on. Nonetheless, once you’re off and on your way, the ascent up the tower awaits.
Scaling the Ziggurat
The quests and action in Babylon’s Fall are a test of survival and resolve. Each quest has you ascending through about five floors of the tower and battling an arena of various enemies on each floor. To do this, each Sentinel is equipped with a device called a Gideon’s Coffin. This device allows players to equip up to four weapons: one set to a light attack, one to a heavy attack, and the other two set to each shoulder button. There are also five classes of weapons in the form of swords, bows, magical rods, great hammers, and shields.
Each weapon class in Babylon’s Fall has its own capabilities depending on where you equip it and some weapons within the same class have unique attacks and qualities. Early on I had bows that delivered charged Piercing Shots, but I eventually also got a bow that fired a spread shot. Meanwhile, I also found a rod that would heal me and a separate rod that casted fireballs and debuff fields. Add in the fact that you can wield two of your weapons in light and strong attack combos while also queuing attacks from your shoulder button weapons and you can develop a near-completely unique combat style pretty much anytime you equip new gear.
As for the quests themselves, the tower traversal sections I got to experience mostly consisted of running through hallways and up stairs until I reached a very arena-like area. There I would fight varied waves of foes and defeat them. Each battle ends with a rating of how you did in gold, silver, and bronze medals. Kill fast, don’t get hit, and vary your attacks and you will be rewarded with a higher rating, more currency, and higher quality gear. Between battles, there is also sometimes light platforming for which you can gain treasures if you explore off the beaten path a bit and each quest ended at a floor where a more powerful boss enemy awaited.
The enemies consisted mostly of goblins-looking fellows with different armaments, swordsmen, insects, and knights. Each had a pattern that took a little getting used to, but I found strafing, attacking, and dodging away was the most effective way to go. That said, it is worth noting that dodge-rolling and the shoulder button weapons make use of the same “spectral bar.” It refills if you land light and strong attacks or do a perfect dodge just as an enemy attack would hit. That said it’s also good to be mindful of using your shoulder weapons too frequently, lest you take a hit. Taking a hit was brutal in Babylon’s Fall’s closed beta because recovery time is incredibly long.
At the end of it all, the game presented me with a trove of the weapons and armors that I had collected, allowing me to sell off useless things and keep what I wanted. As I leveled, I found myself sifting through more of the common gear to get the good stuff, but I genuinely enjoyed seeing all the treasures I could pick out from my journey. Curiously, if you sell at the quest hub shop, you have to sell each item piece by piece. I hope PlatinumGames gives us an option to mark items and sell them in groups in the full game.
More like Babylon’s brawl
So far, there’s a few areas I want to see spruced up in Babylon’s Fall, but it’s got some interesting mechanisms and a gorgeous art style going for it. There are bits and pieces of it that remind me of things I like and don’t like about games like Monster Hunter and Dungeon Fighter Online, but I also think it stands to offer something more sensible in its multiplayer loot grind design than, say, Marvel’s Avengers. This game was clearly meant to allow players to loot the heck out of some quests and build an action combat style that suits them best. I hope to see it tightened up a bit to streamline this multiplayer hack-‘n-slash adventure.
This preview is based on a closed beta PS5 version supplied by the publisher. Babylon’s Fall is set to launch on PS4, PS5, and PC via Steam sometime in 2022 or 2023.