released on May 02, 2023
Redfall is an open-world, co-op FPS from Arkane Austin, the award-winning team behind Prey and Dishonored. Continuing Arkane’s legacy of carefully crafted worlds and immersive sims, Redfall brings the studio’s signature gameplay to this story-driven action shooter.
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One of the worst games I've had the displeasure of playing through in recent memory, and that's a fact even when excluding all the bugs... it's that bad. It didn't take me many hours before I realised that this is a woefully unfinished product that might have been excusable for an indie dev studio with no experience in making games however with a seasoned veteran in the industry like AAA Arkane Austin it's utterly inexcusable.
The loot progression doesn't make any sense, with a weapon of the highest rarity and quality being awarded to the player at the very start of the game. Weapon level overrides every other factor like rarity so even if a weapon is the highest rarity / tier it's useless if its level is not on par with the player. Every enemy scales with the player level as well which only exacerbates the problem of having every weapon having its damage tied to its level. Damage numbers go up as the player progresses but the amount of shots required to kill stays static meaning it's pointless for this game to even have damage numbers in the first place. As soon as a weapon is too low of a level it gets scrapped, and there's no weapon customisation either.
There is no stealth kill animation, just a damage multiplier when you hit enemies in the back but it functions the exact same way whether you hit them in or out of stealth. The character I chose has special abilities that revolve around stealth and one of the abilities is a raven that scans enemies. Once you irreversibly upgrade it enough it starts to damage enemies in addition to scanning them. The glaring flaw here is that when the bird damages an enemy the player immediately gets taken out of stealth, thereby making the entire ability contradictory.
Enemy AI is extremely low IQ, humans miss shots constantly on midnight difficulty and they aren't able to react fast enough to anything the player does, making them laughably vulnerable to the player just running around getting behind them and hitting them with melee attacks. Vampires are only challenging to deal with in large numbers, when alone they easily get stuck on every object and their attacks are so predictable a toddler could avoid them. Every puzzle/objective is solved the same way every time: by finding a key. Kill enemies --> find the key is the gist of everything you do, no alternative methods of opening doors or approaching any given situation exist.
Both world maps are empty even though they're so small with no enemies spawning if they aren't close to a mission objective. Sometimes enemies will suddenly spawn in a cluster next to the player in an area where they were nowhere to be seen previously. In some places there are invisible walls making it impossible to climb rocks that should be climbable. The game is unplayable on controller with being forced to cycle through every weapon and there being next to no aim assist, but even when aiming with a mouse it still feels janky.
Cutscenes are cheap slideshows with nothing going on visually so all you get is the narration. Memory echoes have identical silhouettes of characters making it impossible to identify or distinguish them visually and you never get to see them anywhere else either.
They really expect you to pay $70 for this disgrace when it's clear that everything about this game is not well thought out in the slightest. This gigantic roll of used up toilet paper should never have been allowed to see the light of day.
Esse jogo ele é tudo que um jogo SEM ALMA pode oferecer >Nada<
I wanted to believe. When Redfall was unveiled in the summer of 2021, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. It didn’t look like the Arkane games I knew and loved, and the trailer didn’t reveal about the gameplay. Yet despite all the unknowns, I felt confident that Arkane would make it work.
As launch day approached the particulars came into a hazy, pseudo-focus. Redfall would feature co-op like Left 4 Dead. It would boast an open world à la Far Cry 2. And yet it would still retain the hallmarks of the immersive sims Arkane had made its name on. This combination of disparate elements sounded incredibly ambitious, and I had no idea how Arkane Austin was going to pull it off, but still, I wanted to believe.
Now Redfall is here, having crash landed between Jedi Survivor and Tears of the Kingdom. And gosh, did it crash hard. It’d be easy to write it off as a complete loss and move on, and yet here I am, digging through the wreckage, trying to ascertain if there’s anything of value among the smoldering remains.
Before I discuss the game itself, though, here’s my take on the pre-launch marketing and the backlash. From the initial reveal until launch day, Redfall’s marketing never made it clear what the game was supposed to be. A looter shooter? An immersive sim? An Ubisoft-like open-world? The marketing was gaming’s version of a Rorschach inkblot test, in which everyone saw what they wanted to see.
When Redfall launched, it became clear that it was a Frankenstein’s monster of all the promised features. Yes, technically it’s a co-op open-world immersive sim, but the individual elements all feel at odds with each other. The game offers neither the immersive depth of Dishonored or Prey, nor the pulse-pounding tension of a horde shooter. It aims for too many targets and misses all of them.
It was also in the unenviable position of being Xbox’s first major game release since Halo Infinite, which came out nearly a year and a half prior. Yes, Microsoft launched many other games in that span – Pentiment, Hi-Fi Rush, Minecraft Legends, a few ports from PS5, and whatnot – some of which were quite excellent. But none of those are the kind of huge AAA game that can draw everyone in. By closing its 2021 summer showcase with an extended trailer for Redfall, Microsoft gave the impression that Redfall was supposed to be “that” game – the one that would stand toe-to-toe with Sony and Nintendo’s offerings.
Needless to say, Redfall is not that game.
As a shooter Redfall is passable. The shooting mechanics feel solid enough; the problem is with the people and creatures you’re tasked with taking down. Human enemies are little more than cannon fodder. They come in different varieties, like snipers who do more damage and engineers who set up turrets, but these enemy subtypes never significantly changed how I approached combat encounters. The only way they could overwhelm me was with sheer numbers.
Vampires, meanwhile, are supposed to be more imposing opponents but prove to be one-trick bloodsuckers. Once you internalize the timing of their swipe attack, you’ll defang them with ease. Occasionally other types of vampires appear, and they do put up more of a fight, but they also never forced me to change my tactics in an interesting way. Siphons and Anglers can kill you quickly, but are easy to dispatch from a distance. The Shroud is a nuisance more than anything. Even the Rook, Redfall’s take on Resident Evil’s Tyrant and Mr. X, is easily disposed of with the right combination of special abilities and a stake launcher. Far from striking fear into my heart, encounters with the Rook quickly became little more than glorified gold-tier weapon drop events.
So Redfall fails to impress as a shooter, but what about its immersive sim pedigree? Here, as well, it falls short. Immersive sims derive much of their fun factor from the invisible hand of tight level design, which is the antithesis of an open world. Although on some missions the level design does narrow its focus, recalling Arkane’s past triumphs, even then it usually feels like a pale imitation. I chalk this up to the fact that there are four different characters, each with their own abilities. Arkane had to ensure that every obstacle could be overcome by each character, either alone or in co-op, thus necessitating a lowest-common-denominator approach to level design. If Redfall had been built from the ground up as a co-op only experience, it could’ve had some very smart puzzles, I’m sure. Likewise, if it was a purely solo experience, with a singular protagonist like Morgan or Corvo, I’m confident the developers could’ve sprinkled clever environmental puzzles throughout the open world. As it stands, however, they tried to cater to every playstyle and the results do not impress.
Having read this far, you may think that I despised my trip to Redfall. Yet surprisingly, nothing could be further from the truth. Though the enemies aren’t going to win any awards for ingenuity, gunning through packs of them still had its charms. Once I tweaked the controls to my liking, I was able to pull off slick moves, like sliding past cultists and mercenaries while shotgunning them in the face. Was this any more effective than running past them while shotgunning them in the face? Probably not. But it sure was fun!
And how about the game’s namesake? The town of Redfall exudes a distinct sense of place, one that is rarely found in games. It reminds me of the small towns I’ve visited on the coast of Lake Superior. Boutique shops, lighthouses, hilly hiking trails, cargo docks, churches – it’s all there. When I hike up to one of Redfall’s peaks and look down, I see a real place. That many of the homes are fully explorable and filled with the journals, diaries, and other documents we’ve come to expect from an Arkane game is just icing on the cake.
Yes, Redfall does feel rather empty. Sometimes you can run for minutes without encountering any enemies. While this isn’t ideal, I must say that simply increasing the enemy density is not the right solution. I played Far Cry 2 a few years back, and my lingering memory from it is the ridiculous enemy respawn rate. Having to deal with the same encampments again and again was torturous. I’m glad that Redfall offers quiet moments of respite and largely allows me to explore at my own pace.
There’s also the matter of the narrative. Simply put, the backstory of Redfall is more interesting than the story in its present. As you work your way through the game, uncovering scraps of evidence and watching phantasms replay past events, it often feels like you’re chasing ghosts. The real story has already happened and the missions you go on are essentially McGuffin quests that help you uncover the truth.
As is the case with the world design, the reason for this rearview-mirror narrative design comes down to the game’s open-world nature and the presence of four player characters. It’s hard to craft a compelling, forward-moving narrative when you need to tell it nonlinearly through the eyes of four characters. That being said, I did enjoy hearing the tale, even if the flashback scenes felt long-winded at times. And if you squint, you’ll still spot inklings of classic Arkane environmental storytelling. The most memorable bit for me was in a scene featuring Charles and Claire Beck as children. Go search by the fireplace and you’ll see what I mean.
Yes, Redfall is a disappointment on nearly every level. Making a four-player open-world immersive sim would’ve been a tall task for any studio, and I’m not surprised that Arkane Austin’s stab at it fell far short of expectations. And yet despite all these flaws, I still found myself enjoying Redfall. Staking vampires while going for a hilly afternoon hike, breaking into buildings by throwing my teleporter through the window, and sifting through documents in a church basement were just a few of my favorite moments – moments that are unique to this game. Though it’s not the AAA immersive sim blockbuster I hoped it would be, it does have undeniable charms. My hope is that after the worst bugs have been patched and the game drops into budget-bin territory, more people will be willing to wade through the wreckage of the game’s crash landing and uncover Redfall’s secrets for themselves.