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Babylon's Fall

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Platinum Games
Release Date: March 3, 2022


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PS5/PS4/PC Preview - 'Babylon's Fall'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Nov. 22, 2021 @ 2:00 a.m. PST

Babylon's Fall is an online multiplayer action RPG where you take on the role of a Sentinel and face ferocious enemies and dreadful dungeons alongside companions as you journey to reach the peak of the Ziggurat.

Platinum Games is best known for its character action games, like Bayonetta or Nier Automata. I've always been interested in its attempts to bring that action style to a multiplayer game. I enjoyed Anarchy Reigns quite a bit, even though it never found the popularity it needed to survive, and even Bayonetta 2's multiplayer mode had me addicted. It's exciting to see them trying it again. Babylon's Fall is its first multiplayer-focused game since Anarchy Reigns, and our hands-on time with it has us excited.

The basic premise is that you and some friends choose a mission from the game's hub area and venture into a tower that's filled to the absolute brim with dangerous monsters and precious loot. You go in, get your loot, and leave without dying. Each mission has different difficulties, including how many Estus-like healing potions you can bring in and how many times you can revive from death before it's game over. Having the best possible gear is key to staying ahead of the curve.

Your build is comprised of four weapons that you carry at all times. You don't swap between the weapons, but each is bound to one of four attack slots: light, heavy, and two spiritual weapons. Light and heavy correspond to swift or strong attacks, respectively. You can put a sword in one slot for rapid-fire blows and a hammer in the other for crushing power, or you can slot a bow in one for distance fighting and then a melee weapon in the other for close-range combat. There's a lot of flexibility in your builds, but in the preview build, ranged combat seemed significantly more powerful than melee combat for standard attacks.

Spiritual weapons evoke the hidden power of the other two equipped weapons. The more powerful attacks have greater effects, so a shield may create a barrier, a wand may fire energy blasts, a bow may unleash a flurry of single-target shots or a multi-target spread arrow, and so on. However, each use of a Spiritual weapon drains your gauge, and once it's empty, you're not able to use them anymore.

The trick is that standard attacks refill your gauge, so combat becomes a balance between using powerful special moves and spending enough time with regular attacks to keep the gauge filled. It's an appealing pattern, since the gauge refills quickly. It encourages frequent swaps between moves, so you can get in the maximum amount of damage with a minimal amount of effort. When you get into the groove, you constantly swap between weapons, and it feels darn cool.

Combat will feel familiar to anyone who played the Nier games. In some ways, it feels like an expanded version of Nier Automata's basic combat. You can jump, dodge, weave, combo, and play the game like a standard action game. It has perfect dodges and juggling combos if you care to invest in that path, but you can also play without touching those.

Like other Platinum titles, Babylon's Fall will grade you after combat, from Stone to Pure Platinum. In the preview build, the primary factor in determining when I got Pure Platinum seemed to be how frequently I was attacking. Spend too much down time, and it's easy to drop in rank, but if I constantly moved, swapped weapons, and lay down the hurt, higher ranks came naturally. It really did feel like a Platinum title.

The player's goal is to collect treasure. Whether you're killing monsters or avoiding traps, you're rewarded with color-coded relics. Finish a level, and your relics explode into barrages of loot. A lot of it is trash, but every so often, you get something awesome and rare that you can use to take on harder dungeons. It's the familiar gameplay loop of action-RPGs, but it can be incredibly addictive. Even in the relatively limited gameplay of the preview build, I itched for just one more run. It's easy to see myself wasting hours upon hours perfecting my build and trying to score Pure Platinum on every level.

You can't do that alone. Babylon's Fall is designed for co-op, four-player gameplay. You can go in with fewer than four players, but it feels like something is missing when you do. This is also where non-standard builds seem to shine. Building for buffs or defensive options isn't very good by yourself, but it's an entirely different story when you're aiding three other players. The preview build doesn't provide enough to sink your teeth into, but it seems like there is a lot of potential here. Multiplayer was easy to set up and borrows the Monster Hunter "take a quest from a quest board" mechanic. Having friends along is almost required.

Overall, Babylon's Fall is a Platinum-style hack-and-slash with all the addictive fun of a looter game. The core combat feels solid, and there are a lot of available RPG build options. The core gameplay loop feels very much like Diablo, and it's extremely fun to collect shiny loot to transform into new gear. I'm looking forward to Babylon's Fall when it comes out at the end of 2022 so I can play more and complete that near-perfect build.

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