Babylon’s Fall, the troubled live-service action-RPG from action game luminaries Platinum Games, has seemingly hit life support. After two months on the market and a lukewarm reception at launch, Square Enix’s latest effort was reduced to just one player on PC last week. They revealed themselves on Twitter after VGC reported the shocking player count via Steam Charts data. Turns out it was Gfinity journalist Dashiell Wood, who said Babylon’s Fall is a “flawed but charming” game he hopes to convince friends to play with him.
Babylon’s Fall dropped on March 3 for PC and PlayStation consoles but was swiftly panned by critics for its ugly textures, bland hack-and-slash combat, and uninspired gameplay loop. Our own Ethan Gach labeled it the PS5's new worst game, and Steam players ripped it to shreds in plenty of user reviews. The game’s prospects looked so dire that, about two weeks after it came out, Square Enix had to release a statement promising Babylon’s Fall wasn’t a dead game even though its concurrent player count continued to fall off. But while folks have abandoned Square’s newest looter RPG, Wood told Kotaku over Twitter DMs that he finds Babylon’s Fall “interesting” despite its flaws.
“There’s this real underdog charm to this entire experience,” Wood said. “It’s a Platinum game of course and I’ve always been a big fan of their work. In Babylon’s Fall, you can see a lot of their hallmarks. The combat is actually a lot of fun when you get to grips with it and there’s a lot of depth there experimenting with different builds. Your character has a fairly standard class but also a unique ‘Gideon Coffin,’ which has slots that act like your move set. There are practically limitless combinations of items to slot in and each one changes the experience drastically, making for some interesting gameplay.”
Wood said that on the night of May 3, in which Babylon’s Fall saw just a single concurrent player (him), he had logged in a bit before bed to check things out. The game recently wrapped up its NieR: Automata limited-time event, where players could buy and unlock costumes based on Platinum’s genre-blending and hugely successful action-RPG. So, Wood wanted to see what was in the in-game store, only to find the hub world was barren.
“In terms of what it’s like being one of the few people still playing, you don’t really notice unless you’re outside of missions,” Wood said. “Missions are all in self-contained little areas, but there is an undeniable sense of eeriness roaming the hub world. It’s huge and deserted. Right when the game launched, you would see the odd player going about their business at merchants or whatever, but most days now it’s just a total ghost town. It can be fun to wander around, but the scale makes the lack of players even more apparent. Imagine Limsa Lomensa from FFXIV, but totally empty.”
Wood thinks the reason why Babylon’s Fall is empty is two-fold. One: It has “pretty aggressive” microtransactions that can quickly dry out your wallet. And Two: The “dirty, blurry, and muddy” visuals make for an unpleasant experience. There’s also the $60 price tag for what he ultimately called a “disappointing” game. He hopes a cut might entice players to pick it up, especially since it features crossplay and apparently tons of replayability.
Wood plans to finish Babylon’s Fall as he sees it, Balan Wonderworld, and Left Alive as “a nice trilogy” of flawed yet charming games. He estimates he’s got about 25 hours left and doesn’t mind the slog because, as he referenced Tommy Wiseau’s The Room, Wood’s fascinated by the game’s terribleness.
“I’m the proud owner of both the Balan Wonderworld and Left Alive Collector’s Editions. (Fingers crossed [Square] releases one for Babylon’s Fall too…),” Wood said. “You can say what you want about their quality as video games, but there’s something charming about each of them. Obviously I play a lot of games professionally and a lot of AAA games these days are incredibly polished experiences. It really started to bore me after a while so it’s been refreshing to play some titles from the other end of the spectrum. If anything, their flaws make them far more interesting to play and discuss than what the likes of Naughty Dog or Rockstar Games have been putting out. There’s so much to dig into and examine here. Babylon’s Fall is like its own little puzzle box of catastrophic cock-ups.”
As of this writing, Babylon’s Fall‘s concurrent player count is struggling to maintain the double digits, with roughly 50 people playing within the last 24 hours and only eight or so roaming the hub world at this very moment. Of course, all of this is tracked on PC, so it’s likely the console player base is larger.