Kenji Saito and Takahisa Sugiyama talk visual updates coming to BABYLON’S FALL

PlatinumGames directors look back at the development in BABYLON’S FALL and what we can look forward to in Season 2!
Por Jade Oakley

Changes are coming to BABYLON’S FALL. Season 1 (which featured a collaboration event with the iconic NieR:Automata) is coming to an end and Season 2 is about to begin.

So how did we get here, and what’s next?

We sat down with the games’ directors Kenji Saito and Takahisa Sugiyama to look back at development of the looter hack and slash from PlatinumGames, and find out what to expect in the future, including changes to the game’s visuals.

Kenji Saito and Takahisa Sugiyama

Directors Kenji Saito (left) and Takahisa Sugiyama (right)

What’s been the most challenging thing about the development process of BABYLON’S FALL, and how did you overcome it?

Saito: The biggest challenges were the live service aspect and having network play, as these were things that Platinum Games has never done before. On top of that, being hit by the corona virus outbreak meant we had to work in an unfamiliar development environment, so there were challenges in lots of areas for this project.

Sugiyama: This is not something unique to our team, but with the coronavirus outbreak during the development period, we needed to strengthen our remote working environment quite a lot.

Fortunately, we were already mentally prepared to some degree, with the team members split between two locations in Osaka and Tokyo, so that helped. It was good that we managed to work out how to communicate effectively as we worked on the game and push on to the end where everything came together.

Did any games in particular inspire BABYLON’S FALL?

Saito: In terms of the action, we may have taken a certain level of inspiration from all the previous games that Platinum has made.

Sugiyama: From the perspective of BABYLON’S FALL being a service model game, we learned an awful lot from the game design of various live service games. Of course, the core gameplay is very different from those titles, but we used a lot of things from them as a reference for how to put the game together.

1.Screenshot showcasing visual improvements landing in Season 2.

What do you enjoy most about BABYLON’S FALL?

Saito: Putting together character builds using lots of different weapons and equipment.

Sugiyama: Getting all the bits you need to create the character build you want is great fun. I am the sort of person who wants to create balanced characters, but I prefer builds that let you keep attacking without respite, mainly using orthodox swordplay and the like.

Could you tell us anything secret that players might have not spotted yet in game?

Sugiyama: There is not all that much that we deliberately hid! It is not really a secret, but the conversations you have with the NPCs at HQ will change in various ways as the story progresses, so I would be delighted to see players paying attention to the subtle, playful touches that we put into those.

Can you tell us a bit more detail about what has changed in BABYLON’S FALL since launch?

Sugiyama: Since launch, we’ve released around the same amount of gameplay content that was included in the original release. That includes new game modes and equipment to collect etc. We have also made rapid amendments to some areas based on player feedback, such as improving the matchmaking and tweaking the balance of the early dungeons.

There are still many areas we have not done enough with yet, and many aspects that will be hard to change unless we focus our efforts, so I feel there is a great deal of room left for us to meet player expectations as we diligently continue to develop and improve the game.

Could you tell us a secret about what’s coming in Season 2 of BABYLON’S FALL?

Sugiyama: In Season 2 we move the setting away from the Tower of Babylon for the first time, and some will be at the core of the story. There will also be a new weapon type and we hope you’re excited about it - we feel it will allow for some satisfyingly responsive action gameplay.

We will also be running a limited time event, so it’s shaping up to be an exciting season!

For those who haven't played the game yet, what can fans expect from areas in the tower?

Saito: There are different types of gameplay in the different areas of the tower, and I think a lot of the fun comes from putting together different character builds to tackle the different types of quests.

It’s really enjoyable to think up and try out lots of different builds aimed at the different content types, such as hunting down the special rare monsters in Skirmish to claim the equipment that they drop, taking on the Siege mode with its different weekly element challenges, or testing yourself against the high-level Gauntlet and Duel content - they require clever builds and sharp skills to beat!

Gif showing visual improvements to BABYLON'S FALL

2.Screenshot from Elysium – a late game area in BABYLON’S FALL.

What was the deciding factor for the art style in BABYLON’S FALL?

Saito: We debated lots of options and ultimately decided to go with quite a distinctive visual style.

The biggest consideration was to capture the feel of the setting and the style of that setting was very high fantasy, so we set out in a fairly old-school “classic fantasy art” direction with a European oil painting aesthetic.

This employs a palette of strong hues with deep contrasts to create painting like graphics that convey a sense of weight, presence and colour.

Why have you altered the visuals of BABYLON’S FALL now?

Sugiyama: The team had not managed to do enough testing on the graphics, especially the visibility aspect and how that could create stress for players repeatedly playing an action game over a long period.

Based on player feedback, we wanted to deliver as many improvements as possible at an early stage and it ultimately worked out that we could get those fixes out at this time.

Character creator menu in BABYLON'S FALL

3.Gif showcase of visual improvements coming to BABYLONS’ FALL.

How do the reworked visuals enhance the game?

Saito: As Mr. Sugiyama said above, there was previously an issue with the visibility of the graphics causing stress for players as they repeatedly played through the hack and slash style game cycle. That problem should have been reduced now.

We know the team takes feedback regularly in Discord, how is this process helping the team to implement changes?

Saito: When we did our live stream, Mr. Ehara from Square Enix had players who participate on our channel assign priority to the different opinions expressed on the Discord server. We took that information and shared it with Square Enix, and it’s proving very useful for working out what needs fixing or altering.

Sugiyama: It is indeed a big help. Not only do we get to hear the unfiltered voices of each player, but we can also see how many people share the same opinion by the number of likes it gets. There are even fans who offer some very specific and practical suggestions for improvements.

This feedback has let us develop a picture of what the fans who play our game are like and refine our understanding of what they find acceptable.

4.Screenshot of updated character creation menu from BABYLON’S FALL.

What’s the biggest priority for the BABYLON’S FALL team right now?

Saito: We have received lots of different feedback, so we want to prioritise improvements based on that.

Sugiyama: Our first priority is to deliver the exciting play environment that fans are looking for in a hack and slash game. There were a lot of things relating to the repeating play cycle that we only became aware of after actually releasing the game to the public.

Thanks to our players, we have now managed to delineate most of the challenges and issues relating to that aspect of the game, so we can see the path we need to take going forward and will press on to solve each problem in turn.

5. Screenshot of updated menu visuals from BABYLON’S FALL.

How has the initial reaction to BABYLON’S FALL affected plans for development of the game?

Saito: It is our first time developing and amending content after release as part of a live service, so we need to prioritise player feedback above all else. In that sense, it really brings home the realisation that this game is very much a service as well as a standalone product.

I think that player feedback has influenced us massively in terms of how to improve BABYLON’S FALL and make it more fun and exciting to play.

Sugiyama: The reception has had a big influence. For all the issues that are brought to our attention, we have strived to carry out as many emergency fixes and improvements as possible and get them out as early as possible.

We do understand that these measures are still far from enough and will continue to push on with further fixes and improvements alongside all the new content we will be releasing going forward.

Many thanks to Kenji Saito and Takahisa Sugiyama for their interesting insights and for highlighting just some of the changes coming to BABYLON’S FALL!

You can look forward to Season 2 coming very soon - keep up to date with all the latest announcements on: