By Josh Speer / September 7th, 2017
It’s harder and harder to surprise most gamers. After you’ve been a fan for so many years, it’s easy to become jaded, and not believe that anything can really shock you. The trick is shocking us and also getting and maintaining our attention. With that in mind, perhaps the only game I played at PAX West 2017 that utterly baffled me was VR title Bebylon Battle Royale.
The game is being developed by Kite & Lightning, and I should point out the version I tried was the pre-alpha. There’s still room to tweak and improve it, but what I played was definitely interesting. You might have noticed that the title is Bebylon, not Babylon. The reason for that links back to the premise of the game. Essentially, humans have finally found the long coveted fountain of youth. We no longer need to suffer and die. The catch? The price for immortality is being forever bound in the form of demented infants. As you might imagine, society gets a wee bit warped with a bunch of immortal babies in it, and soon they decide to work out their frustrations in gladiatorial combat. Since they can’t die, the point of the battles is to curry favor. Imagine a bloodsport mixed with social media obsession, and you have the right idea.
To the game’s favor, it was pretty easy to pick up the controls, despite being unfamiliar with the VR headset and controls I used. Combat is loosely inspired by games like Smash Bros., though I also smelled a hint of Twisted Metal and just a drop of reality television parody as well. The way fights work is that you are controlling an avatar which in turn is driving around a robotic go kart with comically extended arms. Using simple button presses, you can string together combos of weak and strong attacks, but that’s not all. By holding down another button, you charge up your taunt, and unlike in most fighting games, in Bebylon taunts are incredibly important. By gesturing with your hands, you can irritate your opponent while charging, filling it up faster and earning more style points. Once it’s full, you can unleash devastating attacks, all which are unique to the individual characters. But if you get hit while charging, you lose your charge, and have to start all over again.
The concept is simple enough to master quickly, though there seems to be some deeper strategy happening as well. I admit I’m curious to see where Kite & Lightning take Bebylon Battle Royale, and how crazy things get. It sounds like the model for distribution will start free and may eventually allow for monetization to help maintain dedicated servers. I hope that this odd premise catches on, since I’ve never played anything quite so strange (that’s a compliment, by the way).
babiesBebylon Battle RoyaledystopiangladiatorialKite & Lightningvehicular combatVR