Babylon’s Fall Was A Waste Of Time, Money, And Effort We Need To Learn From

Forget Queen Elizabeth, Square Enix has just announced a far more pressing funeral to take place in the coming months. Babylon’s Fall, after a disastrous launch and lack of support from PlatinumGames, will close its doors on February 27, 2023. While this precise day will mark the demise of this doomed live-service disaster, I have a feeling it’s been dead for quite some time. On arrival it was met with zero fanfare, thrown out into the world to fend for itself.

For months it was held up by a single player, meaning it was impossible to enter dungeons with fellow warriors or make any form of worthwhile progress. PlatinumGames promised that it would continue to improve the experience and deliver updates, but when nobody is waiting for them there is absolutely no point. As expected, they’ve called it quits and will bring the curtain down on Babylon’s Fall in due time. I hope its failure is a harsh lesson in hubris for Square Enix, and how misguided the entire project was from the very start. Nobody asked for it, nobody wanted it, and nobody will care when it’s gone. What a waste of potential.

First revealed at E3 2018, there was a genuine curiosity surrounding Babylon’s Fall ahead of its release. Its watercolour aesthetic was unusually charming, and the act of battling enemies to ascend an increasingly challenging tower held definite appeal given the studio’s talent for character action experiences. Scalebound was sadly cancelled, but would have provided the knowledge to create seamless co-op gameplay with little compromise. Unfortunately, at this moment in time we were painfully ignorant of its live service ambitions and how it would be nothing like Platinum had ever made before. Little did we know it was going to suck ass.

Turns out it was always envisioned as a live service multiplayer title, with Square Enix hoping it would be the start of something new for the studio as it moved away from more traditional single-player efforts. I wrote at the time about how this was a terrible idea, and forcing so much talent to work on misguided products for the sole pursuit of profit was going to result in something mediocre and soulless, and it turns out I was right on the money. This game is bad no matter how you slice it. The combat lacks impact, the world isn’t interesting, and there didn’t appear to be a long-term vision that could have accommodated a continued live service in the first place. You were collecting loot and playing with friends, but none of it felt natural or satisfying to play. Guys, I think this game was rigged from the start.

I feel bad for fans of PlatinumGames who bought this game hoping for a worthwhile outing, or trusted them to deliver on a live service title that under the right circumstances could have broken new ground in the genre. The ingredients were certainly there for it to succeed, with the likes of Destiny 2 and Warframe already showcasing the value of building a personal warrior over a period of years alongside an unfolding story and new expansions. That was likely the aim for Babylon’s Fall, but it was rushed into production and wasn’t ready in the slightest to take on the world. It also went against everything we expect from the studio, and thus the hardcore were naturally apprehensive when a single-player gem could have just as easily taken its place. Instead of a Nier Automata or Vanquish sequel we’re getting this garbage? Of course it was going to crash and burn, there was almost no way around it.

Babylon’s Fall is meeting its end in the only possible way. It wouldn’t survive as a free-to-play experiment, and the support wasn’t there in the first place to make a comeback, so all it can do is walk gracelessly into the night as we forget it ever happened. Pour one out for all those who worked hard on a game for leadership who wanted it to be something that never made sense in the first place. PlatinumGames is known for immersive, satisfying character action experiences that players spend years trying to master, and trying to crowbar that into a live service was always going to end badly. Off it goes, and I hope the industry learns from it.

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